In the corporate world, the business suit is still viewed as the uniform. This means that, when its leaders are representing the firm, others are not distracted by what they wear but rather the intent is to keep them focused on the message.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “But men now-a-days do express themselves in their clothing.”

Yes, times are changing. But the problem is that most people in the upper offices are well over 35 years of age and the majority are still men. They are the ones who make up the rules of business. And they usually view managerial clothing as a corporate uniform. So when a person’s clothing isn’t the team uniform, these men think: “she’s not a team player, she’s not leadership material, she’s not thinking of the organization.”

Which leads to the point that different organizations have different uniforms. Your company may not have the same executive uniform as your best friend’s organization. One company’s formal is another company’s casual. To fit in, you need to look at the star players, those people who have power and influence. See what they are wearing and emulate their dress.

But you might think, “But its only clothing! Clothes don’t mean as much as performance.” Can bare legs, snazzy tops or jeans and sneakers really derail a corporate career? The answer is yes.

Unless a woman recognizes the importance of her wardrobe it is unlikely she will be promoted regardless of how well she performs. Like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, she’s not going to be taken seriously until she changes her wardrobe to one more in line with the corporate culture and expectations. Her clothes are sending a strong message that she doesn’t want to be part of the team.

Even high-ranking business leaders underestimate the messages their clothing says about them. In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Christina Brinkley reported:

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