Published on July 18th, 2013 | by DearFashionista2
Build your own Style Brand: At Work – Part II
How you are perceived by what you wear has never been more in focus than the past few weeks. It is imminent that we develop our own style brand at work.
This is a continuation of a prior post –> Build your own Style Brand: At Work – Part I.
#4 Beautification is important
Irrespective of your specific style, it is of the utmost importance to take care of odds & ends like knuckles, eyebrows & nose hair(!). Nothing causes more damage to your brand like the lack of grooming & making a lackluster appearance.
Below are some of my recommendations to help with beautification:
- Whether your clothes are washed, laundered or dry-cleaned, they should be in good form i.e. no fading, discoloration, stains or wrinkles. It is good to ensure that creases stay intact & clothing keeps its structure and form.
- Getting a manicure is a must. Your hands speak volumes & often are the first contact during handshakes or presentations. A pedicure is required if you like to show-off your legs & feet. Be it Louboutins or Dr.Scholls, it is important to trim & shape your nails. Nail polish is another way to inject some personal style. Use this fun & handy “Nail Polish Picker” guide as a reference.
- Ensure that your hair is well-coiffed or perfectly coiffed to be messy. Everything about your hair & how it is styled should be deliberate.
- Makeup should be understated & age appropriate while minimizing flaws & accentuating your best features.
- Always look fresh & hydrated. Lotion is your best friend – no dry knuckles or knees!
#5 Perfuming at Work
Conventional wisdom says that it isn’t wise to wear perfume that is too strong at work. In spirit, I agree with that sentiment. But, the sense of smell is evocative of many feelings including power & strength. The animal kingdom lives & dies by the sense of smell…and us humans are not very different. So, my recommendation is to layer perfume that it lingers without overpowering the senses.
Layering starts in the shower with gel or bubble bath, followed by body lotion or cream & finished with perfume applied at the pulse points or spraying in the air & walking through it. Each of these products work on different layers of the body and produce an overall effervescence about your presence.
It is a bad idea to mix fragrance notes. Simply put, if those notes didn’t coexist in the ecosystem, they shouldn’t on you! For example avoid layering a strawberry shower gel, jasmine lotion & citrus perfume. The image on the left is a wonderful perfume wheel which provides guidance on how to layer/pair perfumes.
Now, of course, like every other thing, perfume is a personal choice and it can be a hit or a miss. So, seek the opinions of family & friends before launching into a routine.
There are many office-friendly perfumes available in the marketplace as well.
#6 What lies beneath
Yes, we need to talk about undergarments in an article about work, just deal with it! Even superheros are not exempt from underwear talk. Of course, I’m taking my cues from Superman & Wolverine! This gives me an opportunity to unashamedly mention the movie Wolverine & post a picture of Hugh Jackman…hey, is someone complaining?!
From a work perspective, to be clear, undies exist purely for ones own gratification. If it doesn’t, it is a problem waiting to happen. That would be a whole another topic altogether, one which I don’t intend to address, ever! To be crystal clear, VPLs (visual panty lines) are a complete and resolute No-No at work.
My suggestion is to think of the entire ensemble & not just the portion that is outwardly visible. There is no doubt, wearing a piece of clothing that makes you feel great plays to your advantage! Undies are your little secret…and a piece of you brought privately to the table, literally, from your personal style point of view. It is the whole package that contributes to definitely boosting your confidence.
It is really important to think about style, function and comfort level of underwear. Well, not all undies are made the same and the ones we wear to the gym are not the same for a cocktail party or to bed.
For special occasions at work, it is good to wear stockings & shape-wear like Spanx just to elevate your everyday look. Whether be it Victoria’s Secret, La Perla or Hanes, all I’m suggesting is to be very deliberate about choosing them the same way that an outfit is chosen.
Here is my little secret, well no longer a secret after this goes live!
#7 Happy Feet
Assuming that most of us work at least 8 hours a day plus some commute time, our feet are literally living & breathing in our footwear. I myself absolutely love those high-heels, but those are the most unkind contraptions for the feet.
All I’m recommending is putting comfort ahead of style on some days. Alternate wearing a flat, wedge, kitten heels or platforms. Added to that, comfortable footwear helps with posture and definitely with carpal tunnel issues.
Another tip: always have a pair of comfortable and hardy shoes designated for driving/commute. Even better if they have orthopedic qualities to support your driving rigor.
Use this handy guide to understand more about Shoe Structures and Styles.
I have a lot to say about footwear(!) Read this –> Corsets Vs Contraptions.
#8 Wear your Power: the “Art of War” with clothes
Let me start off by narrating a short story. Many years ago, when I was a newly minted manager, an incident occurred at work. An employee of mine, let’s call him Brian, was in a minor mishap. While passing through a construction space, a piece of drywall fell on him, making him collapse & become unconscious for a few seconds. When I heard of the incident I went to check on him & expressed concern at his well-being. And as is my managerial duty, I offered him to take the rest of the day off, if chooses to take it. He responded resonantly with a “Gee, thanks Mom“.
The lesson I learned & have continued to learn is that my feminine qualities like care & compassion are mostly misinterpreted in the workplace. IMO, the worst thing a woman leader can be called in the workplace is “nice”. It is code for weakness & pushover tendencies. Women, oftentimes, have to mask some of our natural traits at work. It is interesting that the very qualities that our friends & family love & cherish yield odd results at work.
My recommendation is to use your style brand at work as a sort of symbolism, an armor so to speak, to curate your feminine qualities. Taking inspiration from Beyoncé/Sasha Fierce or Dr.Banner/Hulk, when you wear an outfit, it would be good to make an attitude & personality adjustment to adapt to your work environment. Gender inequality is a sad reality in the workplace and by no means am I suggesting that a woman behave like a man. I’m merely suggesting tempering & tailoring their personality to further ones career goals.
Below are some recommended reading on this topic:
- The Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu’s Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work by Chin-Ning Chu
- Nice Girls Don’t get the Corner Office
- Enclothed cognition
- Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat