Does dressing the part for work matter?

Author:   |   Date: 30/07/2016   |   Categories: Career Development,

Whether you are looking for a new role or developing new partnerships and supporters for your work, it might be worthwhile considering what impression you are making. 

It is a reality of our world that we are judged on our appearance more than we might think.  We all have unconscious bias that shapes our reality, and one of those is what we associate with qualities such as leadership, professionalism and creativity  

The first step is to become aware of the issue, and then if you feel this might be effecting you,  think about what actions you might want to take to change.

However take it gently, work in baby steps and make sure you are not judging yourself too harshly as this can be a sensitive spot.  


This week our guest Kerry Athanassiou, founder of Style Culture shares 5 achievable tips towards change.

Does dressing up at work really matter? Yes it absolutely does. What you wear to work daily or for your next job interview is more important than you think. Why? Whether you like it or not, first impressions do count.

Whether you are seeking a creative job or any corporate career based around a team of people, your appearance is the very first thing that is noticed and judged about you when entering a room. How you dress daily reflects on how you feel about your job and future. Paying attention to detail means you would like to be taken seriously in the job that you do.

Statistics have shown:

33% of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone.

67% of bosses say that failure to make eye contact is a common nonverbal mistake.

When meeting new people, 55% of the impact comes from the way the person dresses, acts and walks through the door.

65% of bosses indicate that clothes could be a deciding factor between two almost-identical candidates 

Source: The Undercover Recruiter


I recently read in a business review column that: “people will not necessarily make that much of a big deal when you are put together, but they will certainly notice when you are not". On paper you are one amazing intelligent, hardworking individual, but it is the first impression that will make or break the deal and not the super experience you may come with. 

So what do you do to make a strong statement without selling your soul? As a Fashion Stylist, over the years I have had clients of all ages either going for the next promotion or simply they would like to stand out a little more, without looking like the circus has come to town.  Research has revealed that what you wear could affect how you think and even perform.

So let’s start with some simple steps with making small changes to ultimately receive significant difference in our overall day to dress code for work.

1.       Attitude

In many cases it’s not just the clothes that matter. Everything from smiling, eye contact, how you stand or sit, your handshake and even more importantly, obvious displayed tattoos or body piercings may set you back.

2.       The business / company environment

This plays a vital role in how you will dress for work. There is no point in purchasing a suit when you are working for an IT or arts based business, well unless you would like to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

If it is a new company that you are being interviewed for, take a trip in and look around assessing what other future colleagues are wearing. Make sure this is not on a Friday; casual Fridays are interpreted many different ways these days and should not be used as a base for how to dress for work. You may want to call the HR department (should it exist) asking them about the culture around the office. Even when the company is a little relaxed as far as dress code, this is not green light for low cut tops, worn jeans or unkempt hair and nails.

3.       Your current wardrobe

Sadly everything is up for judgement, it is human nature, we all judge to some degree and people in management have an especially trained eye for noticing things most wouldn’t.

If it’s a case of needing to detox, throw away, mix and match your current wardrobe, creating a fresh new look, then it’s time to think about handing over to a professional. A personal stylist is someone that hopefully has had many years of experience working with various body shapes and all ages. A good personal stylist that genuinely cares about your personal image will streamline your wardrobe like an assistant would organise and schedule your week. You can read about it more here if you like. 

Creative professionals sometimes focus on the work and not so much in the daily dress, resurrecting fashion items from 1989 may send the wrong message to your peers that your work has become as aged as the clothes you choose. Ben Stiller created an entire movie on it, funny maybe for a blockbuster movie, but in reality who wants to be laughed at?

Whether you are working in an art studio, design firm, or corporate environment, dressing professional is a must.

4.       Pick your outfits like you would pick your battles

Depending on the industry you are in, don’t go out and invest in pieces that will cost you the earth with no return. What do I mean by no return? If you turned up at Apple or Google wearing a suit, you would stand out like a sore thumb, but a tracksuit wouldn’t exactly go down well in most boardrooms either.

These days fashion giants would have us believe “it’s cheap so buy it and throw it away after the season ends”. By choosing what you wear carefully and investing in quality not quantity with current trends, you will present yourself chic, well put together and even on trend, every time.

Stylist Tip: Clothes that have buttons missing, are pilling or discoloured need to be put aside, donated or thrown away ASAP. There is nothing worse than an energetic vibrant worker that looks tired, scruffy or aged due to the clothes he or she is wearing.  

5.       Personal grooming

Don’t neglect your personal care. You may have a fabulous outfit on but if the greys streaking through the hair needs to be treated and tamed or nails are not clean, it is definitely sending out the wrong message. 

If make up has never been your thing, start with basics. I have always believed in the French inspired “daily basics”.  Remember you want to be noticed for all the right reasons, maybe not appropriate to be wearing purple lipstick if your background is in finance or law, but if you are the artistic type, have fun with colour that complements your skin tone by wearing a statement red lipstick.


Overall dressing the part will not only impress your boss or interviewer, it gives you great confidence in how you personally feel. If you are unsure, play it safe. My feeling has always been it is generally better to be dressed too professional, rather than too casual, particularly if you work in a client-facing environment. Your clothes are there to make a statement about you, let’s ensure that they’re making the right one.  “Dress for the job you want and not for the job you have”.


If you need advice on how to put outfits together or would like to learn more about updating your wardrobe we would love to help. You can contact us here 

xox Kerry @



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