Do you have a career worthy wardrobe?

In January, I wrote about the 12 actions you could take to be a better person in 2015. Each month had a different focus. March’s focus is to spruce up your wardrobe.

clothesAs Mark Twain wisely said, “Clothes make the (wo)man.” Indeed they do. In the workplace people who are dressed professionally gain more respect than folks who dress more casually.

I recently gave a training to a small professional services firm, and while it was casual Friday attire day, one of the attendees wore a skimpy top that didn’t completely cover her midriff. Because of this she did not come across as professional and I doubted potential clients would feel comfortable trusting their business with her.

A reporter I was interviewed by for an article in Real Simple Magazine shared that she had a meeting with a prospective attorney who came to the meet and greet wearing a tank top and flannel shirt with casual pants and flip flops. Despite the attorney having been highly recommended the reporter did not feel the lawyer would take her business seriously so she decided not to hire her.

Make sure you’re not being judged, or worse, losing business because of how you’re dressed. Despite business casual attire being de rigueur in most companies it’s important not to focus on the “casual” part of the term. Professional attire is still required in the workplace. That means what you wear isn’t too informal, low-cut or skin-baring. Your clothes should be in good shape and fit well – not be too tight or too loose. What you wear for the weekend, the nightclub or gym is not appropriate for the workplace.

I encourage you to do a little spring wardrobe cleaning this month. Spend a few hours going through your clothes and getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit, is a little too well loved or that is out of style. If the item is in good condition and is still in style you can donate it to charity. My husband and I like to donate clothes and household items we no longer use to the Goodwill, which is a non-profit organization that helps people with job skills and opportunities. It’s a win win.

Once you’ve gone through your closet make a list of what you need to take your wardrobe to the next level. Are you missing any key pieces – a quality pair of black pants, a classic black skirt, or a nice white dress shirt? Those and other basics are foundational pieces that every wardrobe needs.

If you lack fashion sense or need a professional opinion consider working with an image consultant or personal shopper. Many larger stores have personal shoppers who don’t charge for their services and who can help you put together a coordinated outfit or even a new wardrobe. Or, you can hire an image consultant who will come to your house, assess your wardrobe and can take you shopping to find items that suit you and fit your wardrobe holes.

I hired an image consultant last year to go through my closet and help me put together new outfits from the clothes I already owned. It was amazing! After a four-hour session with her she helped me determine my style and came up with 21 new outfits from my existing clothes. I had a lot of items I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t know what to wear them with. She also identified some essential missing pieces I needed to complete my wardrobe. Working with her was the best money I’ve ever spent.

I encourage you to take some time to spruce up your wardrobe this month. It could be career changing.





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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Annette Bond on March 27, 2015 at 10:59 am

    When we meet professionals and they are dressed appropriately we create a great first impression of that person and move on with business.  But when they are dressed inappropriately there are invisible messages that are being sent and our mind starts to make judgments about that persons character, capabilities, and credibility.  Too much skin showing is a perfect example. It is OK to show skin but choose one area of the body – your neckline, arms or legs – never all three. Too much skin starts to denote, sensual, exciting, magnetic (in a sexual way).  You are the CEO of your career, so be intentional on the way you dress for business. 
    Annette Bond
    Corporate & Personal Image Consultant

  2. ArdenClise on April 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    @Annette Bond So true! Good way of putting it.

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