Dress For The Job You Want
The old adage goes “dress for the job you want”. If you’re a lower level manager and want to be the director, you need to dress that way. If you just started your job out of college and want to be seen well by management, then you need to dress that way.
I see this dynamic play out all the time at my corporate workplace, P&G. I’ve also heard a lot of counter arguments such as, "well, if they don’t accept me for who I am, then I don’t want to be here anyway. If they’re basing a promotion on how I dress, then that’s just totally unfair."
I think the key isn’t to take the saying "dress for the job you want" as so black and white. Obviously, you are not getting promoted if you can’t perform. Period.
The magic happens when you are performing and then people see you walking around the office, in meetings, talking with your team, etc looking the part of someone who is ready to excel. It’s just very hard to see that person at the next level if they are not dressing for it, or even worse, dressing well below their level.
Something I believe in is when you look good you feel good. And when you feel good you exude a confidence - a happiness and contentment that other people can sense. That is the sweet spot where you are performing and also exuding a confidence of “I’ve got this!”.
Even when people are performing well, sometimes they are held back because they are missing that killer confidence. Style can help bridge the gap.
Here are 5 tips on how to dress for the job you want.
1. Upgrade in Your Own Way
Everyone’s sense of style is different. You want to wear what you’re comfortable in and what you feel confident in.
It also needs to be appropriate for your work setting. You don’t want to do a major pivot and then have a closet full of clothes that you just don’t feel represent you. Maybe a little too flashy for your personality?
As you go into the process look around and see people who think have a style that you like. Start from there.
2. Be OK With an Overhaul
I did a big overhaul when I got to P&G because I felt like the clothes I had (pleated pants, baggy shirts, beat up shoes, ratty belt, etc, etc) just didn’t represent where I wanted to go.
I got my MBA as an investment in myself. I had to do the same thing with my clothing. It was VERY hard getting rid of clothes that I had worn for years and also spent a good chunk of money on.
Just remember that you’re rising. You have to let go of what got you there and prepare for what’s going to get you to the next level. This is an investment in YOU!
3. Bring a Friend or Partner Along
I’ve seen that people enjoy helping their loved ones improve with their style. If you have someone you trust (wife, husband, co-worker, friend, mom, etc) that you can trust, then it might be helpful to bring them in on the journey.
Just make sure that they have an eye for what’s best for you! They can be a great resource for tips, running clothes by them for their opinion or just having a supportive person in the dressing room of Nordstrom to say “yay” or “nay”.
4. Be Open
Changing your style a bit after, potentially, years and years wearing the same things can be tough. You’re comfortable. You’re good. You have your go to outfits. What I would push is that if you want to make it to the next level, you need to shift.
If you’re working harder, learning and growing, then your style should do the same. You’re always striving to be better, so your style needs to come along with you! Be open to the change. Switching things up keeps you fresh.
5. Take a First Step
A 1000 mile journey starts with one step. Your style journey can start with one item of clothing. You don’t need to get rid of everything and then start anew. You can take it slow. One piece here. One piece there. Some people just need to pull the band aid off and do an overhaul, but others can take it slower.
Get those fitted pants and see how they feel. If you like them, then get more. Get a polo shirt that has a bold pop of color. If you hate it, then don’t get more. To dress for the job you want, start somewhere though and just go from there. It will be fun! And after some time, you may end up finding you that you nailed that promotion!
About the Author: Mike Droessler is a Brand Manager at P&G working in Digital Innovation and also the Founder of Sloane Men, the maker of the Invisible Undershirt. He attended Wharton for his undergraduate and USC for his MBA. Sloane’s mission is to make guys better. His breakthrough Invisible Undershirt helps them look their best, but he also shares style and professional tips to help men in more aspects of their lives.