Word up, get a lapel.


We have been asked a few times whether our contention that there is a kind of leadership ‘uniform’ is justified.

So, here’s a bit of evidence – and you can find heaps more if you just google. There is no shortage of advice telling women what to wear if they want to lead.

From “The Executive Woman’s Dress Code” – here’s why clothes matter

If you are serious about being promoted … then take heed.

There is one problem that career women face that often goes unaddressed. It is what it means to be wearing the right clothes.

A woman’s wardrobe is an essential component of her presentation. It is as important as her handshake, her eye contact and her attitude.

The faux pas many women make is that they believe their wardrobe is a reflection of who they are. They are attempting to project their distinctiveness and their individuality. Others prefer to wear what is comfortable thinking that this is appropriate since they’ve noticed others in the office also dress this way. And then there are those who want to be known for their style and creativity. They want to stand out from the crowd.

All these women, instead of sending the right message they are signaling to those above that they are not a team player, that they are not ready for promotion.

The mistake is that they don’t view the clothes they wear to work as their corporate uniform.

If you’re like most women, this is eye-opening. Don’t lose the point that the real purpose of “the uniform” isn’t for erasing your identity; its purpose reflects the symbolism that “you’re part of the team.” It creates a visual representation of a common goal and a shared purpose.

In the corporate world, the business suit is still viewed as the uniform.

This means that, when its leaders are representing the firm, others are not distracted by what they wear but rather the intent is to keep them focused on the message.

But wait there’s more.

From the Globe and Mail, an item called “Dress your way to leadership success with these three pointers” – advice given in the piece suggests:

  • Choose clothes that reflect leadership traits— e.g. don’t wear a 10-year-old suit if you’re a young, forward-thinking leader.
  • Being comfortable in your position doesn’t mean yoga pants and tank tops. Women can be most comfortable by choosing professional clothes in the right fit for their body. For an executive, a well-tailored jacket allows for individualization and comfort — without completely ignoring the industry uniform.
  • Details matter. If you’re a leader who encourages and embraces creativity, pay special attention to the details of your personal style — wearing the same “uniform” of black pants and blouse every day doesn’t communicate adventure, risk or creative style.

And even more.

From Forbes Magazine, “ How to dress like the boss” comes the advice:

“Women should invest in basic pieces that can be mixed and matched,” says Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress For Success. No matter the career, building a professional wardrobe starts with the basics—but doesn’t have to break the bank.

“Splurge on the staples,” says Coles. “You want to buy the most expensive, conservative suit you can afford that will be timeless and get you through every interview, performance review and client meeting.”

“Black is the workhorse,” adds Arroz. “Avoid double-breasted jackets (which can make women look boxy, particularly if they’re busty), but don’t shy away from a jacket with an interesting collar or feature.

And finally,

Five Power Dressing Tips To ‘Boss Up’ Your Wardrobe And Empower You In The Workplace – their tips include:

  1. Develop a routine
  2. Go with a blazer
  3. Consider a wide shoulder
  4. Have fun. Personalise your suit.
  5. Go monotone

In these four articles – and all the rest that you can easily find – the suit, or at the very least the jacket, is the go.

This is DATA for our research. Early analysis? Have lapels, can lead. That seems to be it.



One thought on “Word up, get a lapel.

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