Updated: May 24, 2020
With the work environment becoming increasingly competitive, women who positively stand out will a have better chance to advance their careers. Why is that? Because 80% of communication happens before we even speak a single word.
It’s not only what we say (words) and how we say it (tone of voice) that will have an impact on our image, when it comes to credibility, professionalism and trustworthiness. Non-verbal communication which includes clothing, body language and etiquette plays a major role in projecting an appropriate business image.
The tricky part is how to define the word appropriate. What one person might define as appropriate might be seen as inappropriate in the eyes of another. A lot depends on their cultural background, age and personal preferences. To help employees look their best and send the right message across, dress codes provide the necessary guidelines to help get everyone on the same page. But that doesn’t mean we should all look alike or dress in the same way or even, try to dress like men.
"I believe we should have the freedom to choose the style, the colors and the clothes that speak to and for us."
In Belgium, I feel that there’s certainly a lack of dress code guidance/culture amongst female professionals within the corporate world. I believe women underestimate the importance of their image at work. When I look around me, most of the men at work project a professional and polished image by wearing a suit every single day. They have naturally adopted the suit as their work attire. I cannot say the same for women. Of course, this is probably because there are more options available to them. Or maybe because there’s a lack of awareness of the importance of wearing a formal business suit at work. Or perhaps because dress code guidance is pretty much non-existent for women in Belgium.
Many recent studies have demonstrated that the clothes we wear can impact our behavior and level of confidence. This phenomenon is called “enclothed cognition .” So yes, putting on formal business attire makes us feel powerful and helps us to think more broadly. Knowing that women are by nature less confident than men and generally speaking underdressed for work when compared to men, I honestly feel more women should step up their game and dress more smartly when they go to work.
"To succeed confidence matters as much as competence. A formal business attire can help women to increase their self-belief."
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DRESS: Red Ardingly dress from Roland Mouret | BELT: Black leaher belt from Gucci | SHOES: Black leather pump from Stuart Weitzman | BAG: Black Marcie bag from Chloé | SUNGLASSES: Oversize cat eye acetate sunglasses in dark toirtoiseshell from Gucci.