Style Blog

When a dress is more than a dress – how your outfit can support your career goals

When a dress is more than a dress – how your outfit can support your career goals

Has the new year got you thinking about your career objectives? If so, it's a great time  to reflect on your work wardrobe.  

To be sure, your clothes will never define you. You’re so much more than what you wear.

But there are plenty of scientific studies that show that choosing key pieces that make you feel confident and at ease can contribute to your success. The right cut and colour can affect how productive you are, on reaching your goals at work and on whether others perceive you as competent and trustworthy.

‘You can’t not communicate’.
Paul Watzlawick

Creating a great wardrobe for work doesn’t even have to involve spending a small fortune on new clothes. Arianna Huffington swears by one, high quality dress that she’s been wearing to lots of conferences in a row. We applaud her, not least because that makes her quite in line with our sustainability values. Even if, in reality, she just does it because she is too busy getting things done.

Organic Cotton Poplin Shirt (shop here

It has been shown in experiments that if you wear something more dressy or tailored, you perform better in negotiations. And that’s not only because others perceive you as more powerful, although they do. Dressing ‘up’ has been proven to have an actual impact on your performance in tasks.

When you dress with more thought, you tend to be more productive and even more creative – an effect that is useful for any profession. 

Below we’ve distilled the wisdom of expert stylists and image consultants to show you little tricks that help you use your outfit to support your career goals. (For our style tips tailored to your bodyshape, read this article.) 

shirt dress black classic organic cotton

Shirt dress by Mila.Vert (shop here)


It may sound like an obvious point, but be sure to wear clothes that fit you – and we mean, really fit you. This may be something with a tailored fit such as a belted dress or a great blouse, or a really well-fitting pair of black trousers, or style a more loose fitting dress with a skinny belt, or even consider getting a piece you already own adjusted by a tailor.  

‘In the temporal realm of mere mortals, fair or not, people judge us by the way we look and that includes the way we dress.’
Darlene Price

If you’re not convinced by how something fits, leave the store or send the item back. (We offer free returns to our UK customers, as we only want you to buy items you really love.)


Look after your clothing. You probably wouldn’t wear anything wrinkled, stained or very faded anyway. But also be sure to get your favourite shoes reheeled when necessary and to invest in great fabrics. It’s a simple and effective way to keep your look professional and premium, and shows that you care about details.

Dress for yourself…

Even, and especially, if you are able to work from home frequently, dressing as if you were going to a regular office will make you feel more productive, help you negotiate with clients and sound more confident on the phone. Wear clothes that make you feel powerful. So even if you’re building your business from home, save those yogapants for the mat.

…but consider who your client is

If you’re in a client focused role, think about how your client dresses and align yourself a little with that. It can be a powerful way to create connection and trust.

Choose the right colours

Wearing different colours can affect your mood and have an impact on your own productivity as well as being perceived as confident and strong.

Overall, darker colours send out a more confident vibe, whereas lighter colours, such as light blue, appear more friendly. 

Pastel blue ladies shirt

Aida light blue blouse (now on sale, shop here

If you are going into a serious negotiation or highlight your expertise, gray is a classic neutral colour that will get others to focus on what you’re saying. Blue sends out a message that you’re trustworthy and knowledgable. It has also been shown to tend to make you feel more productive.

 look confident in blue

Reversible dress in navy (shop here).

If in doubt, reflect and experiment

Chances are you already have an outfit you get lots of compliments for. What is it about it that makes you look great? The neckline, the way it’s tailored, the boxy shape of a dress that highlights your legs, the colour that brightens up your complexion? Then look for similar, great quality items.

If in doubt stick to classics, a well-fitting black dress made of a beautiful fabric is a great start.

Go ethical

Everything at Sheer Apparel has been produced ethically (read more about our values here). With the majority of garment workers female, that means we also support the decent treatment of other women. So whatever your favourite piece, you can feel great knowing you’re wearing clothes that empower not just you, but also other women. 

Whatever you wear, make it something you feel amazing in.

Find all our pieces suitable for the office here


Leave a comment