One reason I pursued fashion design and production in college was because I saw the power clothing had to empower women. I saw how a well-fitted dress could change the perception a woman had about herself. I dreamed of owning a clothing boutique that was based on shape, not size. I studied body shape and body scanning as an undergraduate and graduate student and knew I wanted to help women find confidence and identity in what they wore, no matter their size, shape, weight, or style prowess.
In a way that dream has come true … and is better than I could have ever imagined.
Today I own a business that helps you discover your brand and then share it with others.
I also get to partner with companies like Rent the Runway and their Campus Reps who want to make work wear easier for women. They know you don’t have time to stay informed on all the trends and go shopping. They know your wallet can’t afford a whole new wardrobe each season. They know the impact a new blazer, dress, or blouse can have on your mood and work day.
Every outfit in this post includes a piece from Rent the Runway’s work wear line. You can either subscribe to their monthly subscription or just rent 1 item at a time with no string attached! When you purchase their monthly subscription, you can rent pieces for the everyday work day, an important interview, work trips or special work events and then return them for a whole new set of clothing!
As they say, “Buy Less, Boss More”!
They have even offered a discount code for those of you wanting to try Rent the Runway.
Before you go shopping I want to change your perception
on your brand and how to style yourself no matter your industry or style.
WHAT you wear, especially in your career, affects your brand.
Here is why…
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Your clothing/style communicates your personality.
You are exactly who you are supposed to be.
You are different from your peers and co-workers.
And thank goodness!
This means your style can look different.
Don’t be afraid to share your personality through your clothing.
Just make sure you are following my 3 guidelines below.
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Your clothing affects you.
Kate Spade New York Daisy Eyelet Dress: Rent the Runway
When you feel put together with a good outfit, great hair, and the perfect accessories –
your mood shifts, your confidence heightens, you smile bigger.
Set yourself up for success – be intentional about what you wear so you can be the best you in your career. This means planning ahead and not waiting until you are standing almost naked in front of your closet, thinking “I have nothing to wear.”
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Your clothing/style affects your reputation.
I am talking about the entire experience of being in your presence. Every detail communicates something about you. People notice the effort you put into your appearance and how you carry yourself. People make small judgements (called Thin Slicing) about others in about 5 seconds. 5 seconds isn’t enough time to share your elevator pitch or tell them who you are.
Those judgements are based on your appearance and how you carry yourself.
Make those 5 seconds count!
HOW you wear what you wear, affects the quality of your brand.
Though I am encouraging you to communicate your brand and express your style, I am also encouraging you to realize the impact it has on others around you. No matter your industry, here are some helpful guidelines when it comes to dressing appropriately while communicating your brand.
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Their Standard is Not Your Standard
Waverly Grey Windowpane Top: Rent the Runway
In a sense, I am saying “Dress for the job or career you want, not the one you have.” When I was in college, I was a part-time student aid for the Horticulture Department on campus. It was a casual industry and department and I was not expected to dress up. Though I could have worn t-shirts and jeans, I wore clothes that I would wear as if it was my full time job. I decided to take the job more seriously. And thus the job took me more seriously, giving me more responsibilities and hours.
In order to know what “their” standard is, you have to do your research. If you are on the job hunt, research the company on social media, research the people who work there using LinkedIn. If you know someone who knows the company, ask them about the culture and dress code.
Then elevate it. If they dress in suits and skirts, make sure you are in line with their style but elevate it with stylish accessories (shoes, tote bag, or jewelry). If they wear jeans most days, you shouldn’t show up in a skirt suit but you shouldn’t be in jeans either. Wear black or colored slacks or a fun skirt with a cute blouse. You can wear flats but know that heels help you walk and stand with more confidence.
Remember, they don’t know anything about you. You haven’t earned your right to wear those jeans Monday-Friday or just on casual Fridays. Their first impression could be how you carry yourself and what you look like when you come for an interview. Or they may have already searched for you and seen your profile picture – what standard was perceived there?
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Get a Second Opinion
Sail to Sable Plaid Tweed Flounce Skirt: Rent the Runway | Blouse: Nordstrom
It’s all about perception and perspective.
Perception is incredibly powerful and can very easily be warped. We have to be self-aware and aware of our environment. We have to be intentional so that we are perceived the way we want to be.
And even with all the self-awareness, maturity, and career experience, we need an outsider’s perspective. I encourage you to find someone who is professionally more advanced than you to review your wardrobe or review your outfit for an important event, day at work, or interview. Put the outfit on and walk into the room for them. I know this sounds silly and simple but it works! Ask them what they perceived of you when you walked in the room in your outfit. Be willing to listen and then adapt as needed.
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Invest in the Basics + Switch up the Details
Make your professional/career wardrobe easy. Don’t let this be your stressor. Don’t let this be the thing you worry about more than preparing for the interview, meeting, or presentation. Simplify your life and your career so you can enjoy it. I do this by purchasing basics that I wear every day (see this blog post) and layering with fun, trendy, or weather appropriate pieces. This also gives the perception of a larger wardrobe and higher level of professionalism.
Ellie Mae Leather Line Jacket: Rent the Runway | Pants: Target | Camisole: Target | Shoes: Chocolat Blu
Then I layer with the fun items. This is why I am endorsing Rent the Runway. You can order items specifically for the season you are in or the need that you have that month. If you LOVE the item, you can even look at the cost of buying it from Rent the Runway. I ordered this black jacket because open front layers are flattering on my larger chest and midsection. I also love the leather strip on each side (very flattering) and the pockets.Though it is perfect in the cooler months, it is a little thick for Alabama’s Spring and Summer so I can switch it out for a lighter weight blazer.
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