New Year, New You! Make Your Professional Wardrobe A Priority This Year


The new year is a time for self-reflection, goal setting and, of course, resolutions.

Most people’s resolutions involve improving their lives in some way, and having the right wardrobe can pave the way for opportunity, both personally and professionally.

Research suggests that upwards of 90% of all communication is non-verbal.

We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, so it’s likely that you have items in your closet that are holding you back from presenting your best ‘self’ to the world, not to mention cluttering up your closet.

Your appearance and by extension, your wardrobe, plays a huge role in communicating who you are and your potential to a prospective employer.

Start with your closet

We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, so it’s likely that you have items in your closet that are holding you back from presenting your best ‘self’ to the world, not to mention cluttering up your closet.

If you know that an item in your closet is one that no longer fits, toss it, give it to charity, or to friend that can use it.

You need to dress for the size you ARE not the size you used to be. Clothing that is too big gives off a sloppy and unprofessional image, not to mention it makes you look bigger than you are. Clothing that is too small is not only inappropriate but gives off a juvenile image – not the best look when you are about to embark on your career.

Clothing should follow the natural lines of your body – not too big, not too small, just right.

Test every other item in your closet for condition. Has the colour faded considerably? Are there signs of wear and tear? Are your shoes scuffed beyond repair? If your answer is ‘yes,’ it’s probably a good idea to toss that item.

Once you have gone through this process, take stock of what you have left, get in front of your full-length mirror and maximize your existing wardrobe by mixing and matching and put new outfits together.

If you are a real keener, take pictures of yourself in those new outfits for future reference for both shopping and dressing purposes.

Before you spend any money

It’s never a good idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach without a list. The same principle applies to your wardrobe. If you don’t plan, you will inevitably buy things you don’t need and will end up with a lot of waste and less money in your bank account. Figure out what pieces you need to complement your existing wardrobe and plan from there.

Get on retailers email distribution lists or follow them on Facebook or Twitter to be notified of upcoming sales and shopping events. Finding the right items takes time and patience, but if you know your size you can do well shopping online, not to mention avoiding the crowds at the local mall.

What you need – the basics

Every man and woman needs...Every man and woman needs:

  • 1 wool blend suit in a neutral colour (black, gray, navy)
  • 1 tailored white button up shirt
  • 1 pair of dress shoes (in either black or brown) – guys should go for the lace-up shoes and girls for a modest heel

If yours is pantsuit, ensure the belt will ‘go’ with the shoes, but they don’t have to match exactly.

This foundation will allow you to incorporate what you already have in your closet and will give you the blocks to build on the rest.

Go for quality over quantity where possible. Keep trendy pieces cheap and cheerful. And if the suit makes the man or woman, make sure you have it tailored so that it showcases the best version of yourself and you have the opportunity to let your true potential to shine through.

About the author

Erin Miller is a Toronto-based image expert and HR/talent thought leader. She works with clients and candidates ranging from new graduates to C-level suite executives on all aspects of appearance, behaviour and communication. Her background in talent acquisition opened her eyes to the power image plays in an individual's success and she works to help people harness that power to their best personal advantage. You can follow Erin and her image and career related advice on Facebook, Twitter or her site