When I was playing professional beach volleyball, running around in a bathing suit every day, you’d think I would have been more conscious than ever about my image. But at the start, I was generally oblivious.

In fact, when I was in my first Bud Light commercial, we were told to bring three bathing suits to the set. So the volleyball players stood in line while the costume person – or whatever her title was – picked out her favorite bathing suit for each of us.

When she got to me, I was sitting in the sand reading a book, and she said my not standing up was slowing everything down. If you have ever done a commercial, you know that things move insanely slowly, and the idea that I could slow down something that already moving at the speed of molasses made me laugh incredulously. She also did not like that.

Then I handed over my three suits and she said, “One-piece suits??!!?? Are you kidding me? You brought one-piece suits for a Bud Light commercial?!?!? Do you ever pick you head out of that book? !!? Do you know what this commercial is about?!??! It is not about your one-piece suits!!!

That moment drove home to me how important it is to think about image: what people are expecting me to look like. I always wore bikinis after that. I understood that that was part of my job.

When I started working in corporate America, I had to learn about image all over again. At first, I had no money for clothes, and I bought stuff at thrift shops. One day, at my Fortune 100 company, I wore a sweatshirt inside out, trying to make it look like a sort of dress-up sweatshirt, and my boss sent me home to change. I’m not kidding. I told her I thought it was absurd. She said, “Trust me. You don’t want to have this debate with human resources. Just go home.” So I did. And since I lived two hours from work, I took the day off. But I threw the sweatshirt out.

As my career progressed, I spent a lot of time on image, mostly because there were so few women doing what I was doing that I had no role models for how to dress. I hired a consultant to overhaul my whole look, and then when I was getting ready for my first meetings with venture capitalists, my partner (fifteen years older than I was) sent me to a coach to give me “polish”.

Image must be an issue for a lot of people because in my post about bed bugs, the most popular outbound link is actually ” great work clothes ” . And the post that has generated the most offers to me for free stuff was one about my shoes.

So it will surprise none of you that when CNN invited me to do an interview last week, I thought a lot about what to wear.

The last time I linked to a TV interview I did, a few of you wrote to me to say that I need to be more dressed up. “People who have authority usually wear a suit on TV,” one person wrote to me.

I’m not into the suit. I see it’s a sign of authority but I think it’s outdated to rely on something besides your ideas to get authority. If authority comes from something besides ideas, then the world becomes rankist. That is, discriminating against people in low rank, not because of what they have to offer, but because of where they are in the pecking order.

One thing blogging has really driven home for me is that today, real authority comes from what you say, not your credentials. I am fascinated by this. It’s the grand democracy in the blogosphere that some of my favorite bloggers are in their early twenties. And some of the worst blogs are from people who are actually in positions of huge authority.

The Economist notes that for CNN-type moments, Mark Zuckerberg wears a signature fleece and sandals, and Steve Jobs wears a black turtleneck and jeans. I like those outfits. They’re authentic to those guys. But I’m sensitive to the fact that women need to follow different guidelines than men do. If I dress like the guys, for example, the guys won’t like me.

So, I brought six shirts to the studio for the CNN interview. At the last minute, I decided that the important thing to me is authenticity so I should wear something I love. I chose my favorite black shirt that is sort of an expensive-flirty-dress-up version of a t-shirt. I think it looked good, though I confess to being unable to find the CNN interview online to link to it.

And yes, I know, you are not supposed to wear black on TV. They even tell this rule to all the volleyball players. But that’s for another post.

45 replies
  1. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    One of the key things about TV appearances are that they rarely show the person beneath the waist. So one could, in theory, be wearing beech sandals with a Hermes pullover and nobody watching will be any wiser.

    In general, very interesting post!

    Image also should change with age. What one wore to a corporate job in one’s early 20s is no longer suitable in one’s 30s with an inevitable re-shaping of the body, including the desirable changes brought about by working out over all those years.

    And after a point in time, when one has enough authority, image CAN go to the rubbish bin. I have known of a mega-bank’s Group CFO, who went to sign their largest ever strategic investment deal half way across the world, wearing a suit but carrying his toothbrush and toothpaste in a plastic shopping bag, which he brought to the meeting.

  2. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    In my opinion Image is what sets the first impression – not that original of an idea i know. But how many times have we met someone, made an impression that later we found is totally wrong. I agree with you that your ideas should portray authority and not your clothes. I also think that it’s easier for people to listen to your ideas if you are dressed the part. For instance, you show up for an interview in old jeans and a college sweatshirt when you are the expert on a subject. The audience would have to get over that hump of their first impression before actually listening to your ideas. Too much is put on image – and it’s unfortuanate that some people may not take you seriously soley based on the outfit you have on. I tell you this, I have met plenty of well dressed nin-kom-poops in my day ;) All in all, I love when super powerful people are dressed in casual – it breaks through those barriers that society has built.

  3. Daniel Dessinger
    Daniel Dessinger says:

    I think that in most cases (some exceptions apply), you wear mostly what is expected in order to establish yourself as an authority. Once established, you wear what you want in order to gain further respect by avoiding the appearance of pretentiousness.

    The exceptions are do-it-yourself-ers like Steve Jobs. As long as you’re ridiculously rich and/or powerful, no one cares what you wear.

  4. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    Wear what others are wearing. I went to a job interview wearing a black pantsuit and the people interviewing me wore shorts and flip flops. The interview intself went well but I didn’t get the free-lance job. I wonder if it had to do with looking more sedate than everyone else?

  5. Nina Smith
    Nina Smith says:

    Fun post! And congrats on the CNN interview.

    Joe Lupo, stylist extraordinaire once said, "Often, when we go through transitions in life like turning 30, 40, 50, 60 or changing careers or becoming single or a parent, we suffer from style disconnect. This means that what we are putting out there may not match who we really are inside or it may not match what we want to say to the world with our style – everybody has their own unique style and sometimes we just need to update or fine-tune it."

    I read your post about hiring a stylist and agree that most people need help in this area. We hire advisors all the time: lawyers, accountants, financial planners, life coaches, personal trainers, therapists, etc. How often do people spend money on an image overhaul?

    I have a friend who works in wardrobe (by the way, that's what the costume people are called these days) and she takes me shopping three times a year. I kick and scream at most of the stuff she wants me to try on, but she's quick to remind me what I was wearing when we first met. It wasn't pretty.

    Pay for help. Or ask a well-dressed friend to take you shopping. Every couple of years, we should reassess what's in the closet and make sure we don't suffer from style disconnect!

    * * * * * * *
    Great comment, Nina. And so true about the style disconnect. During transitions in my life –new career, new baby, new city — I have been slow to realize that the style I had honed for the last part of my life was absurd for the new part of my life. It’s good to just assume that with each life change comes a style change becuase what we look like reflects where we are in our life.

    Sometimes people complain to me that this is so shallow, looks are not everything blah blah. But I actually think it’s about being integrated into our surroundings and comfortable with who we are — who we are right now. In life, we change, and that’s good.

    -Penelope

  6. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Hm. This is an interesting topic, for sure. I have to admit, what you wore on your last interview didn’t match up with the image of you I had created for myself in my head. But actually, what you wore spoke volumes to me about who you are and where you are in life. You looked comfortable and put together, but not overly concerned with the rest. Well, you’re a mom who has the ability to work from home. To write, to freelance, to author books. Part of that gig is, you get to wear what you want. Who doesn’t strive for that? It plugged me back into the reality of who you are. So while image is important, I agree that it’s important that your image reflects who you are. My corporate dress code requires a skirt suit every day. So I spice it up with color, accessories and fun, because that is who I am. It works for me.
    * * * * * *
    This is a real eye-opener of a comment for me. I appreciate your honesty, Tiffany.

    In the interview Tiffany’s talking about, I wore a v-neck sweater and jeans. And Tiffany says it’s a reminder that, among other things, I am a mom who can work from home. But when Steve Jobs wears a turtleneck and jeans, it’s just a signature look. No one says it’s a reminder that he’s a dad who could work from home, eventhough certainly he could any day that he wants. (Actually neither Steve nor I work from home.)

    I have to think about this. Of course, I just linked to research that said just this — that women need to dress up more than men in order to be seen in the same light…

    –Penelope

  7. Sylvia C.
    Sylvia C. says:

    Good post.
    But, I can’t bite my lip and go without saying I would have told the “bud lite” staff where to shove that book.
    Hmmm.

    Too bad it is assumed that we have to conform in all of these areas. Some, yes. All, no.

    Sure, I wear a bikini, because I think it is more flattering to my body type.

    But you were more accustomed to a one-piece. It just bothers me that you were so easily swayed. Ya know?

    Would you still sway so easily for a beer commercial?

    Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything!
    Wishing you a great day…despite my tone, which might come off a bit harsh!
    :)

    Sylvia C.

  8. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Penelope,
    I didn’t think of it in that light, but you’re right. Why is the relaxed thing a signature look for Steve Jobs and a “mom” look for you? Hm.

    Interesting as well that I read into you “mom that works from home” when that’s not true. Perhaps that’s because I aspire to be able to do that one day and I look up to you, so I want to see in you something that I want for myself. Not that I will or won’t end up being a mom who works from home, just that I’d like to be in a position where I could if I wanted. I’d like to be an author and respected writer, which you are, so maybe I read the rest of my “aspirations” into you. Who knows. I do know that I don’t read much of anything into Steve Jobs, because he as a person isn’t relevant to me and I have no relationship with him. I wonder if that has something to do with it.

    I will also point out that since I work under a very formal dress code, the ability to wear whatever I want to work is something I aspire to as well.

  9. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    But you forget: these guys with “signature looks” are also trying to distance themselves from being considered “mainstream and corporate”. I would think that a “mainstream and corporate” appearance would benefit you, since you want to play up your authority as a career adviser. Most people associate being career savvy with being corporate–even if you would argue that the two are vastly different.

    I would argue that media appearances are intensely rankist. When you go on TV, you are a persona and not a person. A persona wearing the wrong costuming is mistaken for the wrong character. (Sorry for so much heavy analogy.) Thus Steve Jobs dresses like a guy in a coffee shop, Bill Gates dresses like a well-groomed nerd, and Mark Zuckerberg dresses like a college kid with an active social life. It’s the same reason that fire fighters wear their helmets for interviews.

    I don’t necessarily think that you need to wear a suit. That’s not “brazen” enough. But maybe you should recreate one of your favorite outfits from your corporate days. (If you ever start moving in the talk show circuit, then I would definitely argue that you invest in a favorite pair of bright red dress shoes.)

  10. almost vegetarian
    almost vegetarian says:

    I hate the fact that image is important. When I worked in an office, oh so many years ago, I stalled the productivity group for ages by refusing to vote on a dress code. They wanted it to force the woman who dressed like a slut (sequins and spandex) to quit doing it. I didn’t care if she was naked because she was smart and reliable and one of the best co-workers there. It was shallow and pointless.

    Years and years later I work for me. I live in jeans and shirts. And I am certainly as intelligent, albeit far more comfortable and productive, than I ever was at the office job.

    And I earn a helluva lot more now, too.

    Cheers!

  11. Anton Chuvakin
    Anton Chuvakin says:

    “… today, real authority comes from what you say, not your credentials.”

    Isn’t it mildly f-ed up that authority comes from what one SAYS not what one DOES?

  12. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    I agree with Kathryn that clothing is costume, not only on TV but in life.

    Yes, people do judge you on your appearance. That’s all they have to go on, at first. And then the “damage” (if that’s what it is) is done.

    So think of your costuming as a useful tool for controlling others’ perceptions of you. Heh, heh.

    Oh, that that thing about “I don’t care how I look, I just want to be comfortable”? (You hear this a lot in Seattle, where I live.) Guess what. You can look fabulous and be comfortable at the same time. I know, hard to believe.

  13. Angel Armendariz
    Angel Armendariz says:

    Way to go Penelope…stick to your guns. The whole look thing is so powerful. I think you obviously want to be yourself. Yet, at the same time dress for the role. If you want to dress with a slight counter-culture edge, the corp. old school conserv., the fashionista. I think dressing up is part of the fun of life, business, and psychology. Ultimately, I think you can ask the question, “What effect, or result am I looking for here?” – based on that, you can dress the part :). As a guy, I feel comfortable enough with who I am, in playing different roles via the dress-up theme; I feel it makes me flexible and adaptable. Nonetheless, you are definitely a leader Penelope, by your willingness to be authentic. I congratulate you on that.

  14. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    Great article – and just at a time when I am having HUGE doubts about my ability to project the image I want to with what I wear to work. My job falls in the gap between “front office” and “industrial factory” (I’m a quality manager), so the women in positions of influence dress differently than would be PRACTICAL in my job (anything more than a 2 inch heel? not happening!). I’ve been a manager for a year and a half, and I went from an engineering job (where I wore jeans or khakis and golf shirts or dressy t-shirts to meet the casual end of “business casual”), to this job… where I wear khakis or slacks… and more golf shirts (I was aiming for middle third of the “business casual” range). It was while I was ironing and realising that I have 2 weeks worth of golf shirts that I figured out I have to make some changes. Golf shirts are just not a look that says “woman who wants to go places with this company”! But neither are ruffles.

    Women’s clothing still doesn’t fit in particularly well with the industrial end of corporate (North) America.

  15. PunditMom
    PunditMom says:

    After ten years in TV news, I have to say black is actually OK on air. You’re fine as long as you don’t wear small plaids — they drive the camera crazy! And thanks for the Bud-Lite story! ;) I didn’t like them anyway!

  16. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    Do you have any suggestions on other places to shop? I work two jobs just to pay the mortgage, and shopping at DKNY is just not an option.

    * * * * * * *
    Here are my ideas: H&M, GAP, Banana Republic. Maybe other people have ideas?

    –Penelope

  17. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Penelope,
    I have worked many jobs though I am not very old and in each job, image mattered. While working at a bar as a waitress, I wore the standard issue shirt – but I wore it with the shortest skirt I could wear without being indecent. Why? Because if I didn’t, my tips went down to almost zero. That may not be right, but I wasn’t there to argue about morals. Then working in government, I dressed a notch above all the other interns, and suddenly I was treated much better and invited to watch more important meetings. I am willing to dress the part for my job.

  18. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Excellent and insightful post.

    No matter how much we hope for a society wherein people are judged solely by their ideas, their intellect, and their compassion…it simply is not the case. Our clothes and our appearance speak volumes about who we are and what matters to us.

    I agree with Nina Smith that it would behoove professionals to spend some time and energy (and perhaps money) to ensure that the message that they are conveying through their appearance is consistent with their career/life message.

    My favorites quotes about clothes (one from 1945, one from 1999, and one from 2005):

    " – a good appearance can be an important aid in business as well as social and personal relationships." (Sylvia Silverman, 1945, Clothing and Appearance)

    " – the clothes you don each day make very telling statements about who you are and how you think, the culture you grew up in, and which values you accept and reject." (Suzy Gershman, 1999, Best Dressed)

    "Don't underestimate the importance of dressing well – " (Keith Ferazzi, 2005, Never Eat Alone)

  19. Ted
    Ted says:

    Well, I saw the interview you did on TV recently and never even noticed what you were wearing. Silly me…I was listening to what you were saying. How absurd!

    Anyway, I went back and viewed it again, now paying attention to what you were wearing…I think it was fine. But what I really think is that those old “dress for success” rules really don’t apply anymore. Standards are changing.

    Instead of people telling you what to wear (a suit), I think you should tell us what the new standards are for your generation.

    I get a kick out of seeing old videos of baseball games (men in suits WITH hats, women in dresses), my mom had a house dress, etc. Life is just more casual these days…what is or is not acceptable is constantly changing. And then there is the issue of personal style (ala Jobs).

    The beauty of the Internet is that you are judged by your ideas…not the superficial aspects of your appearance, such as clothes or your hair.

    BTW, I am sitting here writing this in a stinking, sweaty T-shirt and shorts after having just finished a workout (I was just quickly checking any new email before hopping into the shower). Believe me…you are glad you can’t see (or smell) me at this moment. BUT HOPEFULLY, my comments in this note are credible anyway!

  20. Paula
    Paula says:

    Penelope, you are writing about this clothes thing–for women especially, it remains huge.

    We’re always overdressed (Molloy blue suit and panty hose) or underdressed (business casual? Oh, please!)

    All our shoes are stupid. The choices, as we all know, are 1) hideous and comfortable or 2) sloppy and comfortable or 3) acceptable in appearance but so painful as to be outlawed under the Geneva Convention.

    If there’s a way to get this right, I have seen very few of us hit it. The schizoid closet (golf shirts, blazers, ruffled blouses, T-shirts) is the frustrating result. I think the message from the corporation is “Get Out.” Our answer is: “We’re not gonna.”

    But I bet the women reading this blog could write books on the search for The Perfect Interview Suit or The Business Casual Outfit That Made Me Feel Great…because they’re non-existent species.

  21. MarilynJean
    MarilynJean says:

    As usual, great post. I echo the comments that talk about being comfortable and the struggle with finding what fits you as a person (shape and style) and meeting the standard at the same time.

    What I notice in these overall discussions about dress is that women seem to be under an immense amount of pressure to “look the part”.

    I know men struggle with what to put on in the morning, too, but ultimately Steve Jobs can get away with wearing what he wears not (just) because he is rich, but because he is a man (among other privileges he has). He walks into a room with an automatic amount of credibility.

    Remember the big deal about Hillary Clinton and her “low cut” shirt? Call me crazy, but when did we ever comment about how sexy, prudish inapprorpiate, etc. any of her male counterparts looked? I think this conversation reflects largely on the unrealistic expectations we put on women in their professional roles.

    I especially like what Ted had to say about not even noticing what you were wearing during your televsion appearance. I long for the day when that is a reality for everyone.

  22. Rebecca Thorman
    Rebecca Thorman says:

    I obsess on what to wear to meetings and events. I often buy a new dress or outfit for an event because there’s a certain image I want to project. My friends find this annoying. I take 5 minutes to put on make-up, and 30 minutes choosing an outfit.

    I honestly think it has a lot to do with the fact that when I grew up, we weren’t all that well-off and I wanted to fit in with my rich friends. I never grew out of it. It’s rare I feel my outfit is nice enough.

    I would venture to say people who grow up wealthy, who are in positions of power, or are men, are comfortable and allowed to wear whatever they want. They have that nothing to lose carefree spirit about them that only those types have. Whereas I feel I am playing catch-up and have a lot to lose if I present the wrong image. Or so I’m told.

    Until life is fair, I’ll keep playing the game.

    PS- I am honored to be among your favorites, thank you. :)

  23. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    How about a Coachology for a wardrobe/image consultant? (You can try one out first and give us the inside scoop about the value of such an investment).

    * * * * *
    This would be a good idea. But they are very location dependent. I need to think about it….

    –Penelope

  24. Dean L Heaton
    Dean L Heaton says:

    Being in the fashion industry myself I realise just how important image is. So how would the readers of my site feel if they knew that I write nearly all my posts in a tack suit and slippers? It doesn’t affect the credibility of my information but I wouldn’t want my clients to see me thus. When in front of them, I dress as to how they perceive me as it’s the image of me that gives me credibility in their eyes.

  25. Liza
    Liza says:

    For low cost professional clothing, I recommend outlet shopping for off-season items.

    The Coldwater Creek online outlet sometimes has things very cheap, and every few months runs a 60% off, end of season special. For work, I would stick to their basics — they have a lot overly whimsical items. But they have a nice selection of basics that you could mix in with more fashionable items.

    Also, remember that you’re building a wardrobe in which some of the core pieces may last a few years. So even if you can’t afford the whole image makeover at once, maybe you could add 1-2 items per month.

  26. scarlettholly
    scarlettholly says:

    Penelope, this post really resonated with me. Being a twenty something working in a bank whilst having a love for expresing myself through ym wardrobe, I really felt what you are talking about – so much you inspired me to write my own post on it.

    Also, for those looking for great work places on the cheap – H&M, Zara, Gap. Old Navy if you pay attention and try everything on. I pair everything with black t0shirts from american apparel, since they have a great shape as well.

  27. Mary W
    Mary W says:

    Well, I tend to see all these things thru the lens of anthropology.

    Attire is a language: it’s a symbol system that people use to signal their self-definition/status to other people. The issue is that symbols don’t just mean what an individual personally wants them to mean; being a language, symbols are very heavily depend on the audience/community/context in which they’re used.

    Just as a good communicator consciously selects the words s/he wants to use with a specific audience, so a good visual communicator consciously selects their attire. I think this was what some of the other commenters were getting at with the idea that “clothes are costumes.”

    For example: I have quite a wide range of clothes and accessories, because I move through a wide range of environments, and I want a wide “vocabulary” of attire to choose from. When I wear my cowboy hat in rural Texas on a ranch, then to observers in that environment, that hat has a very different connotation than when I wear it in urban Dallas, and it has a different connotation on the streets of NYC, and an even different connotation on the streets of Paris.

    Showing up for a business meeting in Silicon Valley in a suit sends a certain message; showing up for a meeting on Wall Street wearing jeans, hiking books and a fleece pullover sends a certain message. Just be sure that you’re sending the message that you want to send, based on the audience/environment that you’re in.

    Per the issue that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerman have their own casual look – hey, that’s just part of the signalling of their high status (in addition to being part of their personal brand). There was an article about this recently (I forget where I read it) about how in the “casualization of America,” one of the perks of rich people is to wear casual “slobby” clothes everywhere.

    It’s a power and status game: the restaurant’s rule may say “jacket required” but you can show off how important you are by being the one person that violates that rule and the restaurant lets you get away with it. It’s an opportunity to show very publicly that the rules that apply to other people, don’t apply to you.

  28. Chris
    Chris says:

    Clothes matter for sure. I have always been a horrible dresser. The only time I had a clue was when I wore a uniform to Catholic school for my first 8 years. The summer I had my first internship in college, I would come home from work and my fashionista sister would say “You went out of the house dressed like THAT?” But in October, I was fired from my job (long story there) and, being unemployed, I figured the best thing to do was get a good haircut and go shopping. I enticed one of my most fashion savvy friends to join me and one fun Saturday afternoon later I was $300.00 poorer and felt like a million bucks. I am now one of the converted – it feels good to look nice. (For the record: H&M, Aerosoles, and Forth & Towne) Oh, and I got a better job 2 months later.

  29. Dana
    Dana says:

    Too many of us subscribe to the belief that life has to fit within a certain “box” – it has to look like “x” to be “right”. What crap! And, into that I throw the “have to’s” about dress code. I’ve owned far to many suits in my career and have hated each and every one. In fact, when I think about having to wear one, I practically break out in a rash. Everybody can look professional based on whom they’re presenting themselves, and a suit isn’t a price of entry.

  30. Carol G
    Carol G says:

    Just an opinion from a reformed frump: Becoming a mature adult involves developing your own style and flair independent of how that relates to annoying, dull Steve Jobs or whoever. His turtleneck works as a brand but it also makes him become a caricature.

    Accessories add style. Leaf through a few fashion mags and note what accessories are being worn, their size, color, and flow.

    It’s OK to not buy name brand if you have style and you are well-groomed. But insist on perfect fit or get things tailored on your own.

    Spend plenty of time on shopping and trying on clothes. Let style be your friend.

    Invest in the assistance of a stylist for a big thing like a TV appearance, crucial interview, or what have you…experts help!!

    If anybody here is seeking style assistance in the professional and casual realm, you could read “Dress your best : the complete guide to finding the style that’s right for your body” or just keyword “what not to wear” on amazon.com.

  31. Layne O
    Layne O says:

    We pay more for a hamburger presented on a nice plate with silverware as opposed to one wrapped in paper or in a box for a reason.

    Same ingredients, it’s possible that the cheaper one tastes better. But we still pay more for the one better presented.

    To pretend that how we dress and out physical condition doesn’t affect your standing in the world is like suggesting a top restaurant should slop their foods unto the plates and still charge high prices.

    Clothing and body condition speaks to peoples judgement. If in an area as small as dressing you show poor judgement most people will not trust you with bigger responsibilities. Or you can make your life more difficult by trying to buck the trend.

    Or maybe you can take your most important client/manager to a dumpy restaurant in your poorly presented clothes and try to close the most important deal of your life, or get a raise. Tell me how it works for you!

  32. madeleine
    madeleine says:

    I know that I am like, six months behind for this thread, but it is rather timely that I stumbled across it today.

    Last night, after I left the gym and was hitting up my favorite middle eastern joint for a little dinner, I ran into a casual friend. He looked me up and down and said that I must finally be getting a little successful at writing. I laughed and said, no, I am as poor as ever. And then he said, well you certainly look successful (keep in mind I was dressed in faded sweats). How so I asked? Who else gets to work in their sweats, he said with a smile.

    I just thought that this was a nice inversion of the dress for success rule.

  33. J
    J says:

    Great story, Madeleine. :)

    If anyone can suggest a fashion blog or website that posts actual examples of office-appropriate outfits (although of course that will mean different things at different levels), I’ll be extremely grateful. (ARE there any work-oriented fashion blogs out there? There must be, right?? There are so many of us out there who need help with this…)

    I would prefer a photo-oriented website to one that describes what is “generally” a bad idea to wear to work. No sneakers, ok duh. Certain shapes suit certain people, ok fine. That advice isn’t helpful to me. I need to train my EYE and get some ideas about professional outfits that I actually like.

    Thanks for the post, Penelope!

  34. Jay Fluck
    Jay Fluck says:

    I would love to see the budweiser volley ball commercial you were in how long ago was it? And I am sure that you have been told this many times but your writing is beyond spectacular…
    Jay – Your new reader

  35. Jonha
    Jonha says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I have never been so mindful of my appearance and clothing style until you mentioned about its importance in this post. Or least in corporate world. I work in a company that doesn’t care what you but cares more on your production. It’s not about what you look but how you work. At some point in my life maybe I will need to dress up. Or maybe I’ll just burn the bridge when I get there, yeah burn. haha

    Jonha

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