“First Impressions”

Over the course of my life and career, I have heard the following statement countless times, “First impressions are everything.” What you wear to a job interview, office party or business meeting can have a lasting impact on how you are viewed by others. As a business professional, you need to use every opportunity to project yourself in a positive way. You never know when you will come across someone in a position to further your career.

As we enter a new year, what a great time to take inventory of your current wardrobe. Dressing for success means to make sure you wear the appropriate attire for an interview, work AND in your day to day life. What you wear often gives an impression on what you think of yourself. Your wardrobe should reflect not where you are but where you see yourself going. If you want to be a manager, take note to what the successful managers wear. Or if there is someone in your department that seems to rise above the rest, check out their attire as well. More than likely, they are well dressed as well.

This month, we are going to look at some “most haves” that every woman should have in her closet. Keep in mind that your type of lifestyle will determine if you have more business than casual attire, but these are the basics. Even in these challenging economic times, all of these items can be purchased on any budget. You do not have to pick up all the items at once either. Plan to buy and item per pay period, one a month or whatever feels right for you. The objective is to have them on hand.

Women’s Wardrobe Essentials

A Crisp White Shirt
The classic white shirt can be worn under a blazer for an interview, to the office or just in a casual way with jeans. You can find the perfect white shirt anywhere.

Black Skirt
Find a figure-flattering black skirt and you can match it with countless items in your closet to create an instantly polished and chic look.

Lightweight Cashmere Cardigan
Get them in both long and short cuts. They are nice to have in the office just in case you lose the air condition battle with your boss or want to dress up your outfit for a casual dinner with a friend.

Dark Denim Jeans
Find a pair that fits you great, and you’ll be able to dress them up or down. They can be worn with flats or heels. Try to avoid buying jeans with holes and rips in them. They may be in style but they are not appropriate to wear in most settings.

Black Pants
Like the skirt, a pair of well-fitting black pants instantly creates a polished look.

Simple Black Dress
Change up your go-to black dress with fun accessories, and you’ll never be bored. A little black dress can be dressed in so many different ways to accommodate a day or night outing.

Stylish but Comfortable Flats
Women that are on the go can do away with wearing sneakers everywhere. If you need to walk to work or run errands at lunch time, a stylish but comfortable flat is a great alternative. They can be worn with a pant or skirt outfit.

Nice Pajamas
I know I like to wear my oversize T-shirts to bed, but I also like to slip into a nice fitting, comfortable pair of pajamas from time to time. It will make you look and feel good.

The Right Undergarments
Well-fitting, figure-flattering undergarments are the foundation of every outfit. What you wear underneath can have a great impact on how things look on the outside. (The older women use to always tell me that you never want to be caught with holes in your undergarments of you had to be taken to the hospital for an emergency. How embarrassing!)

Khaki Pants
Khakis are great multisession staples that are affordable and easy to update.

Here is my list of essentials that I feel will put your wardrobe in good shape for the New Year. Start simple and expand according to your lifestyle. If money is tight, try shopping at a consignment store or keep an eye out for sales. Stores like OLD NAVY, The GAP and Target carry many of these items at a reasonable rate all year round.

Also, remember that the right accessories such as a belt, earrings and a bag can change any outfit from day to night in a flash. Play around with different colors. But always keep in mind the occasion. For example, simple studded earrings are fine for the office, but maybe you want to wear something more eye-catching when you are out with the girls.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have a closet full of clothes to impress. It is what you do with what you have that is important. If at any time your money becomes tight and you just can’t afford to buy something new, the most important thing to remember is your clothing (including your shoes) should always be clean and in good condition.
Etiquette and a polished image will help you to become more charming, persuasive, and memorable. Don’t allow lack of knowledge to sabotage your business and personal relationships.

Dressing for success is not just something hyped by the clothes manufacturers. It is something that each of you can positively apply to yourselves. Each month, I will give you the answers to the most asked questions around what to wear to an interview, business and social events. We will also cover some topics that may be overlooked such as what you should wear while traveling to a business meeting locally or out of the country. My goal is to help you look, sound and feel your best in this New Year!

Author's Bio: 

Walethia is the founder of Grace and Charm Success System, which includes over 30 unique training programs designed to improve organizational and personal behavior, business and social graces and effective team building. She is also host of Success with Grace and Charm radio show and has been a guest on over 100 other television and radio programs.

She has received numerous awards including the "Total Image Award" for her outstanding work in the image consulting profession and has been featured in Women in Business magazine and other publications.
Walethia resides in Michigan with the man of her dreams is the mother of two daughters and proud grandmother of six.

Visit http://www.graceandcharm.com for more information on the ultimate Grace and Charm mentoring program, ways to accelerate your business and life.