Influence: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself (OED)
I recently attended a workshop to launch Her Career Garden, a dedicated development space for professional women to explore, experiment and discover how to make the most of their unique talents.
The theme of the launch was ‘Be more influential at work’ and the women in the room shared their thoughts on what they thought it was, why they don’t have it and how they could get more of it…..
This got me thinking. How does what we wear affect our influence on colleagues, friends and family? We mustn’t underestimate the importance of our clothes. Virginia Woolf says it best: ‘Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.’ Quite.
Research published by the University of Hertfordshire last year found that what people wear has a significant effect on self-esteem and confidence. This is particularly relevant to women, who are often still judged on their appearance rather than on their performance. I believe improved self-esteem and confidence translates into greater influence.
What are my top styling tips for greater influence at work?
- Understand your office culture and dress accordingly. When you get to the top you can change it!
- If you work in a conservative or corporate environment, invest in a good suit and add ‘mix and match’ pieces
- If you work in a creative or informal environment and wear jeans, keep them dark and unripped
- Skirts should be worn no more than one inch above the knee
- If you wear heels, choose a height that you can walk, sit and move in comfortably
- Inject your personality into your accessories using colour and texture
- The non-negotiables: clean hair, nails and teeth. These small details matter and are vital to good first impressions