• Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

    Posted by in Dressing for Interviews & Promotions, Image Update, Impression Management, Professional Image With | 2 Comments

    This blog post was created in response to a recent article published by The Glass Hammer.  The author, Savita Iyer-Ahrestani, interviewed three women to collect some feedback on their perspectives of professional dress and image in the financial world. The comment that caught my eye was from a New York-based stylist and personal shopper who said that “women have a better chance of climbing the ranks if they celebrate their womanhood rather than trying to hide it.” My concern is some women will read this and interpret it as saying that in order to climb the professional ranks, a woman must  dress to accentuate her curves, exposing more skin and projecting a dominate message of womanhood rather than business acumen. 

    Just to be clear, I don’t advocate a woman hiding her womanhood either. Hiding it would mean that her clothing unattractively covers her body in ways that interfere with the power that lines, shapes and proportions in clothing have on non-verbal communication. Having style will always work in a woman’s favor if it is kept appropriate for the environment and her role. 

    When it comes to presenting oneself professionally, there is a distinct difference between men and women. For men, it’s either the suit and tie or trousers and sports jacket. They more or less have a uniform that communicates a consistent, non-verbal, professional message.  Women, on the other hand, are very inconsistent in their non-verbal communication.

    A woman’s dress tends to change daily depending on her personal style, the weather, and how she is feeling emotionally or physically. She allows these variables to affect her wardrobe decision, which ultimately affects the message she communicates and how others will respond to her.  By becoming aware of nuances in the language of clothing, you will ensure that your styling choice will work for you rather than against you.  In order to differentiate yourself, learn to tailor your professional presence to non-verbally communicate your talent, the value you bring to the table, and most importantly, represent the quality of the work you are capable of producing.

    In today’s competitive work environment, it’s more important than ever that a woman take advantage of all the resources she has at her disposal in order to succeed professionally. What you wear and how you wear it is the most vital non-verbal tool you have for managing your brand and the perception others will have of you.  


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    Diana Jennings
    Diana Jennings is the founder of Brand You Image – a personal branding and image management company based in Southern California. A specialist in non-verbal communication, she brings a sophisticated understanding of people and a passion for growth to those working to reach their personal and professional goals. Typical engagements involve the development of high potential individuals and senior level management in personal brand discovery, image management, social and business behavior, and body language for better communication and interaction with others.

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Vivian Groman » 23. Nov, 2011

As a professional woman in finance I see that there is a “uniform” available to women as well. Black or gray suit with a collared shirt or a simple blouse and black pumps. You can’t go wrong with this uniform but you can go crazy with boredom. At least I do. What I notice is that when we start our career there seems to be a need to rely on the female version of the “uniform”. As we mature or perhaps get more successful or more confident – we can “breakout” more and perhaps be more ourselves. Anyway – that’s just my perspective. Thanks for blogging about this.

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Diana Jennings » 26. Nov, 2011

Hello Vivian, Thanks for your perspective. I agree there is a “uniform” for women as well. However, it doesn’t have to be boring as you may think. The art and science of non-verbal communication through clothing is in learning how far to “breakout” while still maintaining the same message.

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