Sunday, August 16, 2009

Building an Effective Executive Wardrobe

"In an era of corporate downsizing, is "down-dressing" a good idea? Might not managers, given a choice between two workers to retain, subconsciously choose to keep the one who looks more professional?"

--Marilyn Gardner

You have worked hard to achieve the success you have right now. In today's highly competitive world, putting attention on cultivating an executive wardrobe will accentuate the professional image that supports your objectives. While you know that you get only one chance to make the all-important first impression, it is equally imperative to make every day a day that you look your very best, even if you have no meetings except for the impromptu get-together you have in the lunchroom or around the water cooler.

Follow these tips to build an effective executive wardrobe that will convey confidence and competence throughout your workday.

Know the Environment

Office climates are continually changing. Knowing what is considered appropriate for your office environment will ensure that you do not make any expensive mistakes when building your wardrobe. Keep this in mind when visiting another office that might have a different business dress style than yours.

Consider What Activities You Will Be Doing 9-5

If you look uncomfortable doing whatever your job requires you to do because your wardrobe selection is out of place, you will not be taken seriously on the job. Be sure you build outfits into your wardrobe for each activity.

If you are an outside sales rep you will be doing a lot of driving around and pounding the pavement. You may want to select suiting made with natural fabrics, or wear less tailored styles that are easy to move around in.

Start With a Closet Audit

When starting to build an effective executive wardrobe, you need to start by being sure of exactly what you have already - before you make a list of what you need.

Pull out everything in your closet that could possibly be worn to work. Try everything on. Make sure it fits well, that it looks fantastic on you and that it is in good condition.

Build A Baker's Dozen

Your goal should be to have thirteen outfits in your closet. That does not mean thirteen suits. It means that with mixing and matching, your shirts, blouses, jackets, skirts and pants make up at least thirteen outfits that will comprise your executive wardrobe. You do not have to be at thirteen immediately, but it is what you want to work towards.

Start With Your Core Color

Start with at least one great suit that fits you perfectly, and in one of your neutral core colors. Your core colors are colors that are the same as your eyes or hair: black, brown, green, blue etc.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

Once you put together your shopping list, do not just go. Do some Internet research to see what is out there, look for sales and calculate what a realistic wardrobe budget might be. You will not feel good in your new clothes if you have gone into debt to pay for them.

When shopping, remember that quality is important and you are going to spend more for quality. Leave trendy clothes for your weekend activities. Start with clothes that will last for at least a few years.

When in Doubt, Hire a Professional

Consider hiring an image consultant to work with you to define your professional objectives and help you put together your best possible executive wardrobe.

You are now equipped with the knowledge and information to build a wardrobe that can clearly reflect your high level of professionalism. Keep this article with you while shopping or when considering if something is a must have for a wardrobe that will bring many rewards.

Look Great, Feel Great, Be Great