In an effort to fit in, stay current, be professional, and not look too feminine, many women get lost in the series of contradictions as to how they should dress for business. Some women's figures have changed substantially and they are not sure what style is ideal for their weight and for their profession.
Some women have suddenly had amazing figure makeovers by getting a fitness routine enabling them to be more attractive now than they were in their 30's. As much as they want to show off their new physique, they have to be careful not to reveal too much. This sometimes boomerangs on them and they hide too much.
Those of us who have gained more curves are also trying not to draw attention to ourselves. In this, sometimes we make ourselves invisible. This is our biggest mistake. You are valuable and have to allow others to notice you before you even speak. They don't need to notice your ample cleavage or toned upper thighs, but they should see a put-together woman of style and taste – and CONFIDENCE.
When you shroud yourself in the dowdy, you age yourself which immediately will devalue your worth – sad, but true. Our own age is the perfect age, but we need to present it with style and dignity. That doesn't mean buttoned up necklines and pinstriped pant suits. We don't need to wear male clothes to show we are capable, powerful and successful. We can do it beautifully as a stylish and feminine woman who dresses in tailored clothes that fit our figure. You don't need to try to wear that "eek" one size smaller, nor the baggy size bigger.
Tests to see if you're pushing the envelope too far:
1. Can you lean over a desk without pouring your cleavage out to those on the other side?
2. Does your environment have stairs? If someone is at the bottom and you are at the top, will they see more than you want them to when they look up your way?
3. Colors – do you feel alive with what you are wearing? Are you excited to tackle the day or do you put on your "uniform" and feel the dredge of the day already weighing on you? It will show in your walk, your expressions and in your voice. Brighten up or at least crisp it up a bit. Neutrals are fine, but don't melt into the sidewalk or walls.
4. Are you seams straining? How about the buttons on the front of your blouse? Can you open your arms wide to illustrate a point without the buttons pulling and holding onto their buttonholes for dear life? If this happens to you, time to go up at least a size or forego buttons and find a new, more "flexible" style for your figure.
5. Do you find yourself tugging, adjusting, tucking? STOP. Don't wear that outfit. Change before you head out the door. If you are distracted adjusting yourself, your audience, clients or staff will also be distracted watching your gyrations as you attempt to keep everything in its place.
6. Shoes – would only a nun wear them or hospital worker. Or, at the other end, would you be able to go out to a salsa club without changing shoes. You may want to rethink your choice.
We can be successful, inspirational professionals AND also be attractive women. We don't need to turn one off to be the other.