In a time when professional attire ranges from Mark Zuckerber’s jeans and flip-flops to a full tailored suit, it’s hard to know where your job fits into the spectrum of office attire. How – exactly – should you dress for work? Do accessories matter?
When I worked at an ad agency, some of the girls – regardless of whether they worked in accounting, human resources, or content creation – would come into work wearing hoodies, jeans and sneakers. It was something that was rather difficult for me to understand. If there are two women competing for the same promotion and they’re both competent and intelligent candidates, who do you think the promotion will go to – the one who comes into work wearing a hoodie or the one who consistently wears blazers?
The attire decisions you make every day may seem unimportant, but they have a compound effect. They affect how people see you and the work opportunities you’ll be given. Don’t get me wrong – your purse certainly won’t march into your boss’ office and get you a promotion. But, your purse should be a power-bag that helps pave the way to your professional success by projecting the right image about its owner (you!). So, what are the top 8 reasons every professional woman absolutely needs a power-handbag?
1. Lancaster Cali Shoulder Bag, 2. Lug Taxi Cab Tote, 3. Lancaster Lana Shoulder Bag
Have you ever seen a woman walk into work with a Snakeskin print bag with loads of silver or gold hardware? Or maybe a bag with metal studs along the borders and a huge dangling logo swaying from side to side? We’ve all seen it, and it doesn’t look professional – it looks attention-seeking. When choosing a handbag to wear to work, leave the Friday-night-handbag at home. Opt for sober colors like black, tan, or burgundy, and make sure to stick with classic shapes and styles. Shoulder purses and totes are great choices when it comes to power purses that do the job comfortably and with style.
1. Lancaster Adele Shoulder/Crossbody Bag, 2. Annabel Ingall Large Isabella Tote
Crazy? Maybe… But it’s true. Dressing professionally, all the way down to your shoes and handbag, has a proven ability to boost your mood and overall confidence on the job. This, in turn, affects your work. Picture yourself feeling confident at work. No seriously, picture it. Feels good right? It definitely feels better than second-guessing your every decision, doesn’t it? Everyone does a better job at work when they’re in a confident state of mind.
This phenomenon has recently been named “enclothed cognition,” which is based on the term “embodied cognition” – the idea that your thoughts are shaped by your body. World-renown motivational speaker Tony Robbins always asks people to take a confident stance for just 15 seconds to see how they feel afterwards. The result? After standing with their legs 2 feet apart and their hands on their waist, they feel more confident.
As per the term “enclothed cognition,” the same is true for clothes and accessories. Diamonds make you feel shiny, pretty and special. Professional handbags make you feel capable, confident and on-top-of-things. You’re ready to take on the world and you’re excited about it – it shows in your attitude and the quality of your work. Show it on the outside, feel it on the inside, and then have the confidence to reach for the opportunities you deserve.
1. Pursebox Modern Crossbody Bag, 2. Lancaster Cali Backpack
Picture a colleague whose clothes are always wrinkled and kind of shabby. Now picture one with sharp office-wear that always looks ready to take on the day. Which personal branding do you prefer? Which would you rather work with? Which would be more likely to be offered a promotion?
Appropriate work-wear also makes others see you as more competent. When you look the part, people believe you perform better – whether or not it’s true. Create and shape your personal brand, then make it work for you. Be known for your professionalism – in your work, your manner and your look. Leave your cute bucket bag and worn-in messenger bag home for the weekend. Grab a satchel or a high-end backpack for your work day. Look good, feel good, do good, move up.
1. Lug Taxi Cab Tote, 2. Pursebox Charmed Shoulder/Crossbody Purse
Your work bag will inevitably carry many of your personal items, and they should be kept separate from your work items. It’s necessary to keep your makeup, hygiene products and Tylenol stashed away in a pocket – after all, you don’t want a tampon falling out of your bag when you reach in for your business cards at a networking event.
Also, if you carry a laptop or work files, you’ll want a bag that can accommodate them. Avoid feeling and looking like a bag lady by carrying your laptop in one bag, your lunch in another, and a small purse on your shoulder. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unnecessary, and it doesn’t make your look or feel like you’re at your professional best.
1. Pursebox Berlin Moto Tote/Crossbody, 2. Status Anxiety Wasteland Tote/Crossbody
Clothing and accessories have symbolic meanings for us – we’re priming our minds to behave consistently with the “uniform” we’re wearing, explains says Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and fashion psychologist (Forbes.com). That’s why it’s important to have different clothes and accessories to wear to work, as well as after work and on weekends.
Changing your purse on weekends from a briefcase-like bag to a crossbody represents that you aren’t in work mode anymore. You’ll feel relaxed during your off-duty hours and work-ready during the week.
1. Annabel Ingall Large Isabella Tote, 2. Lancaster Adele Shoulder/Crossbody Bag
Of course you’ve heard “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” before. Well, it’s true. To find higher-paying and more fulfilling employment or to be offered a new position in your existing company, the executives need to visualize you in that particular role. If your female superiors look professional coming to work all the way down to their purses, so should you.
Neil Patel, who became a millionaire in his twenties and was called one of the world’s top 10 marketers by Forbes, ran a little experiment. He mentions on his blog (quicksprout.com) that he used to wear jeans and t-shirts, but then decided to start dressing up for conferences and business meetings to see what effect it would have. “Once I started dressing to impress,” he says, “successful business owners started to flock to me when I attended networking events, and people listened when I spoke in business meetings.”
It’s no surprise that “like attracts like”. Successful people like to hang out with other people who give off a “successful vibe.” You’ll be more likely to meet the movers and shakers who could change your life and propel your career in your desired direction simply by being inviting to them, by dressing for success.
1. Status Anxiety Some Secret Place Tote/Crossbody, 2. Lancaster Marina Backpack, 3. Status Anxiety Some Secret Pace Tote/Crossbody
Regardless of the wonderful effects of professional attire on your work, you deserve to look and feel your best simply because you just do. Before you leave the house, grab your power-bag and look at your professional self in the mirror. Be proud of who you are and what you’ll accomplish that day. Power women don’t settle for anything in life – you deserve to feel your best at work and always.
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