If a picture is worth a thousand words, executive style is important.
You are the picture. And your appearance will always have the first word, because it’s what everyone sees long
before you have the chance to introduce yourself. Yes, executive style is important. Extremely important.
How you look – from top-to-toe speaks volumes about you. That’s right, from your hair style to your clothes,
your make-up, your manicured nails and to the shoes on your feet. You present a whole picture.
And if you get one thing wrong, you downgrade your whole image.
No matter how good your ideas are or what you have to say, other people will always make comments and
pass judgement on how a woman looks. It is so.
That’s the truth. So why not gain a non-verbal communication advantage by dressing the part?
And look groomed and pulled together from top to toe.
“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick.
Fashion is instant language”. – Miuccia Prada
In the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, what Sheryl Sandberg wore for her panel session was discussed
probably as much as her speech. Read what the Guardian had to say about Sheryl Sandberg and Power Dressing.
Is there now an executive style for successful business women in the form of a tailored dress and heels in
business-appropriate colours? Or can you still do-your-own-thing?
I certainly don’t advocate following the herd of a tailored business dress in a neutral colour for several reasons:
1. Women often have a physical height disadvantage over men. Who wants to be over-looked?
Wearing the same colour as your male counterparts i.e. shades of navy and charcoal, risks Brand You disappearing
into the background. You’ll sink into an ocean of bland uninspiring colours and suiting, lacking any individuality.
CWC style tip: Go for corporate femininity and impact. Always wear colour – sartorially and judiciously.
2. One shape of dress does not fit all.
Not every woman has a ‘size 8 mannequin’ physique, perfect for a tailored dress. Women come in all shapes
and sizes. At CWC we work with some 7 body shapes from the sylph-like to the fuller-figured.
CWC style tip: Wear fabrics and shapes that are created to flatter your frame and body structure.
Don’t forget the devil is in the detail. With your executive stylist and seamstress on speed dial, hem lengths
and fit will be perfect.
“The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress”.
— Hubert De Givenchy
3. A tailored dress may not be in tune with your Personal brand.
Clothes communicate. Whether it is a tailored dress or a trouser suit. Following the herd in one singular
representation of executive style does not allow for your Brand personality to shine through.
“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”
– Marc Jacobs
The key to executive style is presenting yourself in a way that portrays who you are and conveys
the message that you want others to perceive. Flex your dress according to the occasion and your own personality.
Remember it’s often more about looking groomed, polished and pulled together than the individual outfit.
CWC style tip: Flexing your business style of clothing is as important as flexing your business and leadership style.
Busy successful women have little free time to ‘do the shops’ and this is where an executive stylist will save you time,
money and energy by sourcing business outfits and capsule wardrobes, especially for trips abroad.
Investing one hour of your time may give you the confidence to put your own wardrobe together or you may wish
to hand over that side of your business life to someone who does it professionally.
To schedule a conversation with me, Caroline Wolf, click here.
Executive style for women: is it important? You bet it is.
Free download of: The Female Executive’s Handbook
Kim Winser’s article in Forbes first published in 2014 is as relevant today as it was then.
Perhaps more so. Why looking great is as seductive in a boardroom as it is in the bedroom.