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How to dress to get that promotion

By Sally Hunwick
Friday, May 9, 2008
Image: Getty Images

Style guide: how to jump the career ladder

  • Get into the habit of regular trips to the drycleaner.
  • Learn how to iron.
  • Check yourself in the mirror for embarrassing mishaps.
  • Update your wardrobe regularly.
  • Get a haircut and visit the salon.
  • Find a good seamstress.
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You're eyeing off that promotion waiting in the wings. You have the talent and ambition by the briefcase-load; you just need to get the message across somehow. Easy, it's all in the clothes. Here are six style tips to get you up the next rung of the corporate ladder.

Visit the drycleaner
A dirty suit won't do you any favours in getting that promotion — nobody (especially your boss) wants to see last week's lunch walking around the office. Have at least two suits or skirt suits on rotation so that if anything happens to one, you're able to take it to the cleaners as soon as possible. Take dry-clean-only items to the drycleaner at least once or twice a season to ensure you're always looking clean and polished. And if you do have a lunchtime mishap, sponge it off with soda water, fast.

Learn to iron
Yes, ironing is one of the most boring chores on the planet, but a crisply ironed shirt will pay dividends with getting you that promotion. For those who can't fathom turning on the iron — outsource. You can get great deals by handing in your shirts to the cleaners in bulk. Just remember, if your shirt looks sharp, so will you, and it's the sharp ones who get the big jobs.

Mirror, mirror
Checking yourself in the mirror doesn't mean you're vain; it's smart business. Before a meeting or even before leaving your desk to roam the office, have a quick check to make sure everything is where it should be. Top three things to check: teeth, lipstick and clothing (is everything tucked in?). There you go; you're well presented and reliable — just what the boss is looking for.

Go shopping
You don't need a wardrobe as big as Victoria Beckham's but variety in your working wardrobe shows your boss that you're flexible and prepared to try new things (like a position with more responsibility, perhaps). Make it a priority to spruce-up your wardrobe with a couple of new items every season — even smaller purchases such as a new tie, shirt or belt are great career-enhancing investments. Remember you are your own walking, talking advertisement so evolve to keep your superiors interested.

Self-maintenance
We're not talking hours in the salon but regular haircuts, manicures, waxing and the odd facial will ensure you always look well presented. Exercise is another career enhancer — a fit person is a healthy, motivated person in management's eyes. Bosses take notice of those who take pride in their appearance because it shows they take themselves seriously. So book that haircut if it's overdue. Your boss will notice.

Find a seamstress
A good seamstress can take in a business shirt for a more fitted look, fix the length on suit pants or skirts, and alter the cut of a jacket to better suit your body shape. Remember, it's always easier to take things in, so opt for the larger size if you're unsure and always buy the best clothes you can afford. If your clothes fit, you'll not only look better, you'll perform better at work. And up the corporate ladder you'll go.

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