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Suit Up for Success!


According to Sherry maysonave, author of casual power: how to power up your nonverbal communication and dress down for success, it may be wise to consider that possibility.

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FEATURE                                                                                              1. 800.973.1177

                              Suit Up for Success!
                              [By Mahsa Khalilifar]
                              “You are what you eat.” Yes, we hear that saying often…but are you what you wear, as well? According to Sherry Maysonave,
                              author of Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success, it may be wise to
                              consider that possibility.

Business attire is becoming more and                  Maysonave, the founder and president                          successful; look at them and see the
more casual. However, a lot of how people             of Empowerment Enterprises, said that                         office “culture,” and then you will
perceive someone in the workplace is not              people in business settings should look like                  see what is rewarded and what is
excused by the casual environment. No                 they know what they are doing and appear                      [frowned upon].
matter how relaxed the environment may                educated. These points are especially
seem to be, someone is judging you based on           important in the legal field because legal              4.    Women should express themselves
your clothing.                                        professionals see clients on a daily basis and                but not to the point of sabotaging
                                                      because it is a highly respected industry.                    themselves by their choice of
Maysonave has been in the image consulting                                                                          clothes. There are a million different
business since the 80s, so she has become             “It’s about paying attention to your attire. It               ways a woman can look professional
an expert in the field of business attire.            is not about being a ‘fashionista’ but, rather,               and stylish, and her personality will
Her book addresses the reasons business               presenting yourself [properly], which can                     still come through. However, she
attire is essential, and she believes “anyone         dictate the responses and opportunities you                   can sabotage herself if she is not
who wants to have success or have more                will be able to receive,” she said.                           dressed so well.
success” should take a look at it and see
what he or she needs to change about his or           Below, Maysonave gives female paralegals                5.    A dark suit is a cornerstone for the
her social dressing habits.                           and legal secretaries some tips on how to                     workplace. Pants and skirts are the
                                                      dress conservatively without looking frumpy                   best options. Skirts are good, but
“It is similar to product packaging,” said            and earn the respect they deserve.                            they should not be too short; they
Maysonave. “We are essentially ‘packaging’                                                                          should be knee length or an inch or
ourselves every day, and we want people to                 .   A woman should dress for her body                   two above the knee. Find out if you
buy into our ideas and hear our messages                        type in something that fits her well...             are required to wear hosiery or not.
and respect us.”                                                women should avoid what I call                      If you don’t have to wear hosiery,
                                                                “fidget clothes.” These are things                  then you should wear a skirt that
The legal workplace has different standards                     that make you tug and pull at your                  goes to the knee and wear closed-
when it comes to attire compared with                           outfit. If it’s too short and too tight,            toe shoes! Especially avoid open-toe
other professions, and the rules can vary                       you will be pulling and tugging, and                shoes for interviews. Always wear
depending on location, but one underlying                       people can misread it as insecurity.                closed-toe shoes in interviews.
factor seems to be the same everywhere.                                                                             Remember to dress businesslike but
                                                           .   Semi-tailored clothing is essential.                not frumpy.
“I think it depends on the region, but                          It can be extremely stylish, but over-
naturally people assume that in a legal                         the-top and provocative won’t be           Maysonave said some of the same guidelines
environment [business attire] will be                           taken seriously in any office setting.     also work for men. Men should note that
formal,” Maysonave explained. “But now                                                                     dark suits never fail, and if you are a man,
some of the dress codes are relaxed, yet                   3.   Many law firms have dress policies,        you should always wear socks. It can mean
it is still important to inspire trust and                      so you’ll want to know if there is         the difference between moving ahead or
confidence. You can inspire someone to trust                    anything in writing [or] something         staying behind, according to Maysonave. If
you and give you a chance to prove yourself                     I call the “unwritten dress code.”         you dress inappropriately, people can jump
by [your outfit].”                                              Look around at who’s made partner          to conclusions about you.
                                                                [if you are in that situation] or who’s
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FEATURE                                                                                   1. 800.973.1177

Casual Fridays give you a bit more freedom,     “The Hollywood look can spell disaster in      “Always keep in mind what items on you
but “don’t drop to the lowest denominator,      the workplace,” Maysonave said, chuckling.     command respect from others,” stressed
and tread carefully” when dressing for,         “It is so easy to fall into the ‘Hollywood     Maysonave as one of her most important
say, the courtroom or the office, asserted      trap’ of dressing. Unless you are in the       points. “Remember that people are paying
Maysonave. You do not want to lower your        entertainment business or on the runways,      you as an expert [in your field], so look
estimation in other people’s eyes, so keep it   don’t try it [in the workplace].”              authoritative, not flashy.”
casual but not “sloppy casual.”
                                                Maysonave said that legal shows also portray
                                                more of a fantasy image of attire in the
Another important tip is to hold off on the
                                                workplace and that distinctions need to be
“ultra-edgy” look and keep the runways and
                                                made between reality and television shows
Hollywood fashions out of the workplace.
                                                about lawyers.


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