By Mary Grace Musuneggi
Founder & Executive Director, Single Steps Strategies
As the world becomes more casual, dressing down has become more the code in the work world. The “uniform” of the office is now more likely to be slacks and t-shirts than skirts, jackets and high heels.
But the old adage of “you are what you wear” may still have some value in today’s causal world.
“You are what you wear” asks us to think about what we project to the world, what we think about who we are, and what we want from our professional lives.
When I was young and things were not quite going my way, when I was upset by circumstances or dealing with a difficult life issue, my mother would remind me that all things were possible if I just “got up, got dressed up, and got going.” The actions of moving and doing were a means of working through a problem and heading for a new life experience. But the central part of this theme was that I “got dressed up.” Not just dressed. Dressed up. Getting dressed up ensured I was putting my best foot forward and feeling good about who I was.
Just like the UPS driver and the McDonald’s employee, I have a “uniform” when I get up every day and go off to my work life. I believe that what I wear sets the tone for what I expect from myself, what I expect from my business, and what I expect from my day.
One of my mentors in my early career said more people would become who they wanted to be if they just “dressed for the job they want, and not the job they have.” Work at and look like who you want to be. Shakespeare wrote, “all the world is a stage and each must play a part.” What is the costume you should be wearing for the part you are playing?
In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach tells us “most of us do not think we are carrying on a conversation with the outside world when we get dressed in the morning, but we are.” She also reminds us that Alison Laurie, author of The Language of Clothes, says, “long before I am near enough to talk to you…you convey your sex, age, class to me through what you are wearing. To choose clothes, either in a store or at home, is to define and describe ourselves.”
As we enter a new season, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate our wardrobe—the “uniform” we wear when we go out into the world. What are you saying to the world? What do you really what the world to hear?