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In the morning you didn’t think much when you threw the dress on. Dark blue, knee-length, a bit oversized – inconspicuous, actually. The scene shows: clothes make the man. Or to put it another way: clothes speak volumes. Especially in everyday work. Today there is only an official dress code in a few industries and companies. How other people perceive you is determined by your appearance. “If you go completely wrong when choosing your clothes, you run the risk that others will not take you seriously,” says Linda Kaiser, trainer for business etiquette.

Build trust by choosing clothes

That a bank employee only looks serious if he is dressed appropriately – of course. “Otherwise customers would not be inclined to trust him with their money,” says Kaiser, who is the deputy chairwoman of the German Knigge Society (DKG). The same applies to sales, for example. According to Kaiser, it is important to convey a credible impression with a rather conservative look. “It is important that you look authentic with your clothes,” says Jutta Boenig, CEO of the Society for Career Advice. Even with conservative dress codes in companies, there is often more fashion leeway than before. “For example, a woman can wear a brightly colored dress or, instead of pants with a blazer, a brightly colored frock coat,” says Boenig. “The main thing is that it looks neat and tasteful.” But even if there are no official guidelines, it is by no means irrelevant in which cloakroom employees appear in their everyday work. “Because you send signals with your clothes,” says Yasmin Kurzhals. The HR manager at auxmoney is a member of the executive committee of the Federal Association of HR Managers (BPM).

Casual to overdressed: anything is possible for now

If you want to swim with the crowd, you should be guided by what your immediate colleagues are wearing. Then you can’t go wrong with jeans, sweater and trainers. Such an outfit creates a feeling of togetherness or embodies a certain attitude of the company. If the clothing in a company is rather loose and casual, someone who is chic or even extremely elegant can appear “overdressed”. “He or she stands out from the crowd, which can make colleagues feel uncomfortable and it is more difficult for them to develop sympathy for him or her,” says Kurzhals. The chic seems arrogant to the others and wants to set themselves apart. “Sometimes, however, the chic outfit can also be deliberately wanted because it is intended to create a certain effect, such as sovereignty and assertiveness.” Kurzhals advises you to ask yourself what you want to depict and whether the chosen outfit underlines your own competence.

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Clothing style as a trademark

Stand out from the crowd by consciously coming to work in a casual look, for example in a tracksuit? Kaiser advises against it: “Others might see such an outfit as a sign of lack of appreciation.” For some people, a certain style of clothing is also a trademark. “As a rule, they are very self-confident and aim to be perceived as a bird of paradise,” says Boenig. “That is perfectly fine as long as nothing speaks against it from a company perspective.” If you are new to a company and are unsure, you can find out about the clothing style in advance. “The photos on the career websites of the respective company provide information, for example,” explains Kurzhals. She recommends choosing a more classic outfit in introductions.

Expectations change with position

Everything else results from everyday work. From Kaiser’s point of view, it can also make sense to talk to colleagues about clothing in order to find out what is appropriate and what is not. If you take part in an evening event or trade fair on behalf of your employer, it is also advisable to find out in advance which clothing style is popular. This is often evident from websites or from the respective invitations. If this is not the case, then: “Better to be traditionally dressed than funky,” advises Kurzhals. This is all the more true, the higher your position is. Anyone who attends an outside appointment for their company dressed too casually runs a high risk with regard to important conversation partners. “In case of doubt, this can damage the company’s reputation and thus its success,” warns Kaiser.