I once read that women who wear heels in the workplace are more likely to be taken seriously. Now this was years ago when I first started working full-time, so I have no doubt the stats have changed. Especially with more women rising up the ranks, heels and pencil skirts are less relevant now than they’ve ever been.
But in my personal experience, I’ve realized that it’s not really about stilettos or suit jackets or A-line dresses. It’s about the power of feeling confident and put together at work, and how that affects your colleagues’ perception of you.
Growing up, both of my parents worked corporate jobs. Mom had two wardrobes – one side of her closet was filled to the brim with full suits, button-downs and other work-appropriate attire, and the other side was packed with her “personal” clothes. As I left college and prepared to enter the real world, this is what I anticipated walking into.
To my delight, I quickly discovered that PR – like many marketing disciplines – is one of the cool and trendy industries that rarely requires a strict dress code. My flowy shirts and worn skinny jeans from college were totally acceptable, as were my strappy sandals and Toms.
But what started as a relaxed dresscode for me quickly turned into – as Laura likes to say – “mailing it in” when coming to work. I began working super long hours, requiring me to leave my house in the wee hours of the morning and get home long after dark. My personal time was scarce, as was my sleep. So I would wake up with just enough time to shower, pull my wet hair up in a messy bun and throw on the first thing I could grab with flip flops, and head to the office makeup free and focused on my to-do list for the day.
After about six months of this, I quickly discovered that this was making me unhappy. Here’s how:
We are our best when we feel are best. It’s the reason we dress up for special occasions, right? When you have a good hair day or rock new shoes, you feel like a million bucks. And while I certainly can’t have a good hair day every day (or rock new shoes everyday – Dan would kill me), there is something to be said for putting yourself together.
For me, it is about shoes. My biggest fear is that I look young (which I totally do!) partly because I’m 5’1.5. (The half inch is very important!) So I always try to wear heels as much as I can – even if it’s just booties or a strappy sandal with an inch platform. For others, it might be their makeup or even an entire outfit.
But whatever it is, when you feel confident, you act confident – you are more likely to share your great ideas, feel good when you walk into a meeting, and produce great work. And that is something your colleagues will subconciously pick up on. Plus, people will naturally take you more seriously when you don’t come to work looking like a wet dog. Trust me – it’s worth the extra 30 minutes in the morning.
Let’s get ’em, ladies! Here’s to confidence.