Despite being groomed from the sofa by fashion programmes like Trinny and Susannah?s What Not to Wear, and the like, us Brits still find it difficult to dress for business, a survey has revealed.
The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Best Western Hotels, revealed that 47% of us struggle when it comes to dressing for business meetings and conferences, and one in three of us have confessed to arriving to these meetings underdressed.
Also worrying is the fact that more than a third of us (34%) need help to know what to wear to Christmas parties.
What?s more, with women generally coming under more scrutiny than men for their fashion sense (or lack of in some cases) in business scenarios, the hotel group is keen to make sure women felt they had reliable advice to help them.
In conjunction with top image guru, Karen Kay, Best Western Hotels GB has now launched a dedicated website ? www.bestwestern.co.uk/dressforsuccess – where Brits can get some much needed tips and advice on dressing for business.
As a nation, the research also revealed that we believe we lag behind our European counterparts, with both men and women unanimously voting Italy as the country that boasts the best dressed business people. Nearly half of all men and women (44% and 47%, respectively) voted for the birthplace of style icons such as Versace, Valentino and Armani.
For women, France followed in second place, with nearly a quarter of us saying that Parisians men and women can out-dress us around the board table.
Interestingly, men were more likely to favour the German style of dress, with 14% thinking they scrubbed up best for business, as opposed to a measly 3% of women.
Karen Kay, image consultant, said: “My advice for those attending a conference would be that, even though you?re away, remember you are dressing for a work-related function. It?s easy to fall into clothing complacency when you?re away from your traditional workplace environment, but this is a prime opportunity for management to view the future potential of their staff.
“If you have seminars and presentations during the day, wear business-like attire and treat it as a ?working wardrobe?. If your boss has told you that more informal clothes are acceptable, err on the side of caution.
“For example, I would suggest jeans are risky – opt for less casual skirts and trousers instead. Remember, you still need to make the effort to look presentable, even though you are dressed more casually, so make sure clothes are pressed neatly, shoes are polished and your hair is tidy.”
Karen Kay?s top tips for dressing for success in business
- Look after your working wardrobe. Replace missing buttons, hang up your suit and polish your shoes.
- Get professionally measured and buy clothes accordingly ? if you have recently had a child, your body will be changing, so bear this in mind when buying clothes.
- Pay attention to what those above you on the career ladder are wearing. While it would be freaky to mimic their style in a copycat manner, try and emulate the look in a way that works for you.
- Invest in good quality where it counts: you can get away with a cheaper jacket if you have a great pair of shoes. A sophisticated dress or trendy handbag will do wonders for a run-of-the-mill suit.
- Forget you are dressing for success, not to seduce. Keep your out-of-hours wardrobe separate from your professional attire.
- Be complacent about your clothing. Take a fresh look at your wardrobe every few months and discard anything that is permanently soiled or doesn?t fit. Try new combinations of existing pieces in your closet, too, then add the odd new item to freshen up your style.
- Think you have to be fashionable to look fabulous. What works on the catwalks doesn?t necessarily work in the office. Go for well-fitting, classic pieces that flatter, with a nod to seasonal styling if it is appropriate.
- Wear anything that is uncomfortable. It will show if you are in pain as your shoes give you blisters, or your rollneck is itchy. Likewise, ensure your clothes function without letting you down – ie your skirt doesn’t ride up indecently as you sit, or your cleavage doesn’t spill out.
- Be afraid to go with your gut instinct: if clothes make you feel good, you?ll instantly come across as more confident.