One of the best ways to show your authentic self is through your wardrobe. Your style can say as much about your brand as your online presence. If you’re wondering what to wear to your next networking event, then here is some advice from fashion expert and IAW member Solita Roberts.
Solita advises entrepreneurs and professionals through her business, Style to Impact, on how to build confidence through their wardrobes. She’s worked with TEDX Speakers, lawyers, financial advisors, and more on how to leverage the power of an improved image to increase impact and income.
Break the “Nothing to Wear” Cycle
We have all looked into our closets and said, “I have nothing to wear!” There never seem to be clothes that fit perfectly together or outfits that we haven’t already worn thousands of times. It could be because we are stuck in the same wardrobe cycle and need to break out of our style rut.
Overwhelm – It begins with opening your closet doors and being overwhelmed with the time pressure and significance of the event you are attending.
Decision fatigue – Then it turns into decision fatigue as there are thirty different tops, bottoms, and dresses to choose from.
Guilt & Shame – Sometimes it can start to feel shameful for taking so much time, the effort you are putting into the outfit, or how the clothes look on your body.
Boredom & Frustration – The common partner to overwhelm is frustration at the inability to decide or boredom with the choices that you have.
Buy New Clothes – The cycle often begins again after we buy new clothes to replace old ones that are ill-fitting or no longer as exciting to wear as they once were. It increases the choices we have in our closet and leads us back through the cycle.
Wear Executive Presence
Often our idea of dressing professionally means looking like a stock image. Bland, boring, and forgettable. Executives are the exact opposite. So, here is how you can start wearing your executive presence and be noticed.
Choose a style type
Just like your personal brand, your wardrobe has a certain design style that reflects your personality. If you are an energetic and creative designer, then you might go for vibrant colors and prints. If you are an accountant that likes modern looks, then a tailored pant suit might be your go-to outfit. Find a style archetype that suits your personality and ensure your wardrobe is cohesive.
Flatter your body
The ideal body type does not exist. It is so common, as women, to criticize our bodies when we start to try on clothes. Clothes should make you feel confident and comfortable. So, honor your current body and criticize the clothes for not highlighting your assets. Start by experimenting with different silhouettes you might not have picked out before. The more you try on, the better you will understand your current body proportions and what suits it.
Bland neutrals and depressing colors mean you blend into your surroundings. Executives are groundbreakers, so your clothes should stand out as unique as you. This doesn’t mean you need to start wearing neon to work. Yet, the right colors and patterns can express your personality and brand to those around you.
The best way to show your executive presence at events is to be prepared. Form outfits in your closet that you know make you happy, are comfortable to wear and reflect your professional message. You won’t fall into a cycle if you already have outfits on hand and you can always swap them out if you become bored.
For more tips on networking, read the best follow-up strategy or how to network when you don’t have time on the IAW blog. Plus, find weekly networking opportunities through IAW’s community here.