In the movie The Devil Wears Prada, new college grad Andy Sachs lands an administrative assistant job at a high-fashion magazine. Her frumpy clothes and square-toed shoes leave a bad first impression. But with a little help from a co-worker and a room full of fashion clothes and accessories to choose from, she changes her image and leapfrogs over her co-workers to become the editor’s executive assistant.
Yes, I know this is a movie and not real life. But it illustrates that what you wear expresses to others who you want to be. If you’re going after a high-powered executive assistant job, then dress the part. Think of your clothes as way to communicate confidence, knowledge and professionalism. Here are some more tips.
Purchase high-quality, well-fitting clothes
Most importantly, buy a few basic, good-quality pieces rather than a closet full of poorly made clothes. Look for seams that are high density and do not have loose strings. Choose clothes that are lined and use reinforcement; they will last longer and lay better. Choose dense natural fibers such as wool, silk or cotton.
Be sure your clothes fit correctly and are designed for your body type. Make sure that the crotch and armpits aren’t too saggy or tight, that you’re not showing panty lines, butt crack or bursting out of your bra. And don’t shy away from alterations; a good tailor can work miracles.
Follow what others are wearing
There really isn’t a standard dress code today, so it’s best to watch what others at your company wear. Are your colleagues in three-piece suits or T-shirts and Crocs? If there is a wide variety of looks, choose something dressier than the most casual person and slightly more casual than the most formal. And if you work with clients from other companies, follow what they wear, too.
Dress for your next career move
If you’re trying to get to the next career level, dress for it! What are the successful people wearing? The colleague who just got the promotion you were hoping for – what does she wear? If you want to work for the CEO, learn how the people in the top office dress. Find someone whose style says “I’m moving up,” and emulate them or ask for advice.
But don’t sacrifice your own style. Power-dressing doesn’t have to mean a closet full of black, blue and white. Stick to some basic rules, but feel free to spice up your wardrobe with splashes of color or accessories that highlight your personality.
Clothes communicate confidence
What you wear says more about you than almost anything else. If you want to be successful, make sure your clothing choices say success. Even if you work behind the scenes, don’t fall into the trap and think your clothes don’t matter. Every time you walk into a meeting, run an event or walk to the break room, people notice you. What do you want your clothes to be saying?