Make your wardrobe work for you

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015

There's no denying that women are judged by their appearances. But this doesn't mean that to be successful, happy or loved, we all have to dress in the same cookie-cutter style that ticks all the right boxes. While it's important to be aware of the impression you're projecting with your wardrobe, it is just as important to find your own way of expressing your personality through what you wear.

At the same time, clothes aren't just an expression of who you are - they can actually influence you to act differently. A 2012 study from Northwestern University in the United States introduced a concept called enclothed cognition, which the researchers defined as the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes.

Simply put, if you put on a serious suit, killer stilettos and fierce red lipstick before you go into a meeting, your choice of clothes will have psychologically prepared you to take nonsense from no-one. In this way, the process of getting dressed every day is part of your mental preparation for that day.

Getting dressed every day is an important ritual, says Georgina Simone Rawden, a fashion buyer and trend forecaster. Getting dressed for work motivates me and gives me confidence.

She has the following tips to share for getting the most out of your wardrobe so that it brings out the best in you:

Dress professionally, but add an individual touch
Different industries have varying dress norms, but looking professional applies to all. Make small additions to bring your personality through, like adding accessories, a fabulous pair of shoes, a scarf that stands out or a good quality piece of jewellery that you wear every day that represents your own personal brand.

Avoid the obvious problem areas
There are definitely a few no-nos in the workplace. Anything too tight, too short or too sexy is not a good look, and neither is anything too sloppy or unprofessional. Scruffy T-shits and old jeans do not a good impression make. Jeans are fine in creative industries, but dress them up with blouses, heels and accessories.

Dress for comfort and confidence in a social setting
For casual braais with friends you can get away with just about anything. The best way to dress is by finding a look that makes you feel confident without being over the top, but don't be afraid to try something new.

Rely on the classics
Classics are classics for a reason, so you can always fall back on (and keep wearing) something that doesn't date, rather than having to cycle through an entirely new wardrobe every season. But remember to add a touch of fashion in the form of seasonal colours, prints, bags and shoes to keep your look fresh.

As an extension of this, people are still trying to master the capsule wardrobe, which essentially consists of a few stylish basics that can be dressed up or dressed down with accessories. For instance, white blouses, jeans, anything leather, good heels and good boots can be worn in so many different ways each season.

Focus on the basics of grooming
Being immaculately groomed is not always essential, but having clean hair, fresh skin and a touch of make-up goes a long way to giving you confidence and creating a good impression.

Above all, feel good about yourself
Confidence is often described as the most attractive characteristic, no matter what your gender. So let your clothes be your tools in supporting and expressing your own sense of self-worth. If you feel like a million bucks, chances are you'll project that. 

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