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Discover the new way to... dress for success

BY Kimberly Law, AICI CIP


DRESS FOR SUCCESS what does it mean? These days those three little words cause more confusion than ever. It has been suggested that 41% of Canadians now dress casually for work. With numbers that high you would think casual dressing for the workplace would be easy. Not so. Many people are even more confused than before about workplace attire. Appropriate dress used to be determined by the industry or profession. Now it also varies from business to business. It's up to each company to determine their own standards for professional dress. Unfortunately today, not all do. While some have professional dress policies in place, most do not. In many companies, it isn't uncommon for workers to show up in the same outfits they would wear to wash the car or go to the beach.

With so much diversity, the question is, what should a business wardrobe look like? These tips may help:

Dress to Impress
Notice what your manager and clients typically wear. To impress your manager, dress at the same level or slightly more casual. If he/she wears a jacket, so should you. To impress your client, dress at the same level or a little more formal. If your client always wears jeans, you might want to leave the jacket and jeans at home. Dress for success with a collared top and tailored bottom.

Avoid Image Blunders
Everything has its time and place. Sexy, frumpy, sweaty and vulgar have no place at work… even on casual day. Clothing for specific activities should be saved for those events.

Dress Down with Style
Even on casual days, be prepared. Keep a coordinating jacket handy for unexpected meetings with other managers or conservative clients.

Plan Ahead for Professional Polish
When it comes to your personal appearance, it's the little things that count. Good grooming really does make a big difference. You… and your wardrobe should be in tip-top condition from head to toe.

Add a Little Pizzazz
Take it easy with accessories. They create the look that says, "this is who I am". Accessories give each of us individual style. But remember - in business less is more.

Impress with Less for Less
Yes, it is possible to look professional on a budget. Choose quality over quantity. Buy quality fabrics and timeless styles... the best you can afford. Choose lightweight fabrics - wools, fine cottons, and silks that transition easily from season to season. Natural fibres look and feel more expensive and can be worn all year round.

Think in Threes
Less is better when in comes to colour. Wear no more than three colours at once including accessories. Patterns count as one colour. Styles and colours that mix and match create wardrobe capsules that save you time and money.

Make a Statement in Shades
Have you ever wondered why the traditional navy or grey suit worn with a white shirt and tie became known as "The Power Suit"? A dark or muted jacket worn with a white or light coloured top highlights the face adding authority and presence.

Make a Little Adjustment
Making small alterations to sleeves, hemlines and waistlines or simply changing buttons can make your clothing look custom tailored, and you look like a million bucks!

When in doubt dress up
In business, it's better to be over dressed than under dressed... especially if you are trying to make good impression. Remember consistency is also important. If one day you are wearing a business suit with a collared shirt and the next day you show up wearing wrinkled khaki's with a tired old t-shirt, co-workers and clients will be confused. It takes consistency in your personal appearance to convey an image.

When it comes to professional dress, if it doesn't seem quite right, it probably isn't. Using common sense and tasteful good judgment can create a memorable impression and positive image that will help you soar to the top.

Kimberly Law, AICI CIP is a Certified Professional Image and Etiquette Consultant and principal of Personal Impact International founded in 1999. She is an author and a speaker, and works with companies, men and women helping them refine their look from head to toe and enhance professional communication, to help her clients look and act their very best, always! She is one of only 125 image consultants world-wide and was the first in Western Canada to receive international recognition as a 'Certified Image Professional' through the Association of Image Consultants International ( She was elected to serve as AICI's President Elect for the 2010 - 2011 term. And has been has been featured as a personal image expert across Canada through the media. For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Kimberly Law at tel: 604-298-7228, mobile: 604-626-3907, email: visit or see Kimberly's Media Kit.