Scrap the Suit?

A couple of weeks ago I read an article from the online daily magazine Little Pink entitled Scrap the Suit?  It states, “Today’s career women are breaking the rules of what constitutes a serious business wardrobe – and still being taken seriously.”  This article was not Little Pink’s first article on this subject, and I have read other online magazine articles with similar themes.

I think these statements really do a disservice to individual women and women as a whole.  As an individual, a woman can lose credibility and authority through her wardrobe choices, hurting her chances of being taken seriously.  Thus her ideas are not heard, sales are not made, and promotions not given.

Yes, women have made great strides in the workforce compared to those in our mother’s and grandmother’s day; however there are still marked inequities.  The continuing wage gap between men and women, and the sadly lacking ratio of women in the executive office vs. women in the workforce highlight these inequities.

For that reason I think it’s safe to argue that this new viewpoint hurts women in general, for as growing numbers of women believe it’s OK not to wear a suit, we, as a group, will lose credibility and authority. As a result, this action will hurt our chances of closing the salary gap and filling more executive offices and boardrooms.

I know there are professions, industries, and companies where this statement is true. But there are just as many work environments in which wearing a suit is mandatory.

How do you know which clothes should be worn to give you the most credibility and authority in your particular work arena? Well, the biggest factor to consider is, what is the world in which you travel?  Very few of us are impervious to the needs and considerations of those around us.  None of us live in a vacuum, and as such we need to learn to take our cues from the world in which we move in order to present ourselves to our best advantage.

People in general have expectations of how others should present themselves given their particular professions, industries and based on individual company cultures. People will open up and hear the message of individuals who present themselves in a manner that matches these expectations.

Look around you.  Within your particular profession, industry, or company identify the most successful individuals (both male and female).  Note how these top-tiered people dress and take your cues from there.  If they are wearing suits, then follow suit.  If they are not, then you know that this symbol of credibility and authority is not needed in your particular arena.

There’s more than one factor to consider when determining the most appropriate work wardrobe.  In general, men are promoted based on their potential, coupled with the image they project, whereas women are promoted based on their actual current abilities, coupled with the image they project.

If the powers-that-be don’t see a woman doing the job in real-time, they’ll be far less likely to be promoted.

Consider this example.  When looking for a new home, there are three types of houses available on the market: those that are move-in ready, those with good bones that need some renovation, and major remodels. In the work-place women often-time need to be move-in ready before they’re considered for promotion, whereas men can have good bones but need some renovation.

To assure that your wardrobe choices support the credibility and authority needed in your particular work arena, study my website to determine your own personal impeccable image and personal brand.  Whether the results include wearing suits or not, you’ll know precisely what needs to be worn in order to create both credibility and authority.

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