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New Strategy for Business or business Casual Attire - Seize A Powerful & Confident You!

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

This blog post is inspired by Denise Conroy, Queenmaker on LinkedIn, who posted a vulnerable post on how she faced bullying at her HGTV workplace over her choice of a dress. I was saddened that someone took it upon themselves to casually and thoughtlessly strip away someone's confidence (and power!).

Lioness sitting on a snow covered hill
Photo by Marisa Barrett - Unsplash

It also got me wondering—what does business and business casual attire, actually look like in this fast-fashion, TikTok-trending 21st century? Given that our community thrives on conversations about confidence, it feels essential to have a chat about what business and business casual truly means.

Is it the classic, buttoned-up suit and tie look, complete with sky-high heels that tell the world you mean business? Could it be straight-off-the-runway couture? Or perhaps it's a dive into the menswear section for the controversial pant suit? What is the formula for an empowerment-driven wardrobe?

The Evolved Business & Business Casual Attire - Beyond Suits and Hemlines

"Is that hemline too short?" "Is that V-neck too deep?" "Are those pants too tight or too loose? In my opinion, it's not about any of that. Your business and business casual choices should be less about arbitrary guidelines and more about one fundamental question: "What's my brand?"

Whether you opt for pencil skirts and blazers to convey a calm demeanor or show off a high-fashion look that complements your personality, your choice of business or business casual clothes should make you feel at home in your skin while enhancing your professional image.

When in doubt, ask, "Does this outfit make my brand look strong?" If the answer is "Heck, yes," you're not just dressed—you're impressively branded.

My business/business casual confessional - I broke up with my high heels

A few years ago high heels were my mandatory business/business casual accessory. For me, having that extra 3-4 inches of height felt empowering. Over time, I realized that they were literally slowing me down. I had to scramble to keep pace with longer strides and ended the day in pain and blisters. The mental picture of me lagging behind, even as I rushed to keep up, was more tragicomedy than executive chic. Post Covid, I made the switch to comfortable wedges and loafers. While I might still be 5 foot 2.5, I am now a confident (and pain free!) 5 foot 2.5.

For those who are loving your Louboutins, you can choose to keep them or ditch them. Don't get me wrong - no hate there - Louboutin loyalty is a real thing, and I'm not here to spark a shoe-ffensive. But think again if they are still serving you and/or amplifying your brand.

Your Power Suit in Business and Business Casual Attire - Make It About Your Brand

The "power suit" isn't necessarily a traditional suit. I would rather call it a 'brand suit.' The 'Brand Suit' is wearing business or business casual clothes that truly reflects who you are - your values, your vision, and your uniqueness. The key is to wear something that makes you feel 100% confident and is an extension of you, especially during important meetings.

In Denise's post, she was wearing a beautiful DVF dress. And it made her feel confident. That is the definition of a 'brand suit,' in my opinion.

Question is, what do you do when someone else's 'Brand Suit ,' makes you feel uncomfortable? Well, that's when it's time for some self-reflection. If your immediate impulse is to voice your discomfort, take a breather and consider your motives. Ask yourself, "Is my comment going to empower this person or deflate them?" Most times, it's about our own biases than about their choice of attire.

And the next time you're on the verge of judging someone's 'brand suit,' turn to objective kindness as your north star. Say, 'if what I say detracts from their confidence, it's better to be silent." Instead of spewing unnecessary critique opt for the high road - uplift, delight and empower.

How to Handle Negative Comments about Your Business or Business Casual Attire

Tips for Maintaining Confidence in Your Business Casual Attire

  1. Be Unflappable: Stay poised, knowing you selected your outfit intentionally. If someone says, "That dress makes you look like a party girl," a graceful pivot is the key. Thank them for their feedback, then steer the conversation back to business: "I'm fully confident in delivering on this project. Can I count on your support?"

  2. Trust Your Judgment: Confidence in your business or business casual attire is what matters most.

  3. The Professor Mode: Enlighten the nay-sayers on what business and business casual means in 2023 (it's not 1923!)

  4. Find your Tribe: Build your wolf-tribe. These are people who know your competence and you abilities and are supportive of what you bring to the table.

  5. The HR Trump Card: Unwanted attention on your attire should never cross the line into harassment. Don't be shy to escalate it.

You Do You, And Do It with Intention

Business or business casual attire isn't random threads and buttons; it's really your brand billboard. Once you have defined your brand and are intentionally underscoring it, your clothes can and should reflect that.

Finally, a word about other people's "brands"—especially those with shorter hemlines, flashier prints, or whatever else might send you into Judge Judy mode. Before you provide unsolicited advice, pause and channel your inner Adam Grant. Ask yourself: "Is it me finding this uncomfortable, or is it genuinely them crossing a professional line?" Most times, spoiler alert, it's our own biases creeping in.

When you are ready to bravely stand up for yourself, get this training (it's free!), "Know Your Worth and Fight for It: 7 Simple Steps to Negotiating the Job Offer of Your Dreams," This course offers practical strategies to help you discover your leverage, navigate challenging questions, and be prepared for unexpected obstacles.

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