Don't let clothes stand in the way of career success. Here's how to use Black Friday to upgrade your professional wardrobe.
While beauty may only be skin deep, first impressions matter in the business world and during the job hunt. In fact, a study by Come Recommended found that 65 percent of bosses indicate that clothes could be a deciding factor between two almost-identical candidates. It also found that when meeting new people, 55 percent of the impact comes from the way a person dresses, acts, and walks through the door. So clearly, getting dressed in the morning is more than just finding matching socks.
If you want to make a strong impression, you'll need to make sure that your wardrobe represents you as the professional you are, and what better time to do it than Black Friday? Take advantage of the sales this coming week to upgrade your professional look. Your career (and your wallet) will thank you. Here are some tips to help guide you through your Black Friday adventure, including how to prepare and what to keep in mind as you battle other shoppers for the best deals.
Taken inventory before you shop.
Before you venture out to shop, take a deeper dive into your closet to find out what you have, what you need, and what you need to get rid of. Keep your professional clothing needs in mind: Is your current or ideal organization very traditional or does it have a startup feel? Do you own clothing that suits the company culture? Certified Image Consultant Marla Tomazin suggests a “closet audit” as a first step before Black Friday shopping:
“This will give you a clear idea of where your wardrobe has 'holes' and which pieces might need replacing. Then, scout in advance to determine which sales are likely to include the items you need.”
Take this opportunity to evaluate which articles of clothing you no longer wear. If you haven't worn something in the past six to nine months, chances are you won't be wearing it again. Here's a good trick to determine what you do and do not wear: Every time you wear something from your closet, turn the hanger the other way. If after nine months you didn't reverse the hanger, it must not be an essential. Gather your discarded items in time to make a donation for Giving Tuesday.
Research, research, research.
Black Friday tends to be a bit … err, hectic. Be sure to enter the competitive shopping scene with a plan. Susan Solovic, a small business expert and coach, recommends researching what will be on sale and then going to stores in advance to check everything out.
“Make sure you know what looks good on you and is appropriate for your career path,” Solovic explains. “Even if the item isn't discounted on Black Friday, most likely it will be before the holidays or soon thereafter.”
Tomazin is adamant that when you enter the stores Friday morning, it's important to have “a clear idea of what you want to buy.” She writes:
“When you show up at a big sale without a plan, you're likely to get swept up in the shopping madness. And when you get home, you'll wonder why you bought all those things you don't really need.”
Instead, she advises shopping with focus.
Invoke the buddy system.
If you're not careful, low prices and a competitive environment may get the best of you. Tomazin suggests using the buddy system to keep yourself on track:
“If possible, make plans to browse the Black Friday bargains with an honest friend who knows you, your style, and your wardrobe, and who won't be shy about telling you 'no.' Make sure this person knows ahead of time that your goal is to come home only with sale items that flatter you and that will be positive additions to your wardrobe.”
Evaluate: Do you want it because you'll get use out of it, or because it's on sale?
A “Just marked down!” sign may seem tempting, but will you really wear a bright green blazer? Just because something is a good deal does not mean it's right for you.
Solovic cautions that “a good deal may not look so good tomorrow. Don't buy simply because it's on sale. You may talk yourself into an item in the store and justify purchasing it because it's available at such a discount, but in your heart you know it really isn't you.”
Tomazin agrees: “After the shopping glow fades, your closet will be crammed even more full of pieces that 'sort of' fit, and that you only 'kind of' like. Remember, in the long run you aren't saving money if you don't wear what you buy.”
Before you head to the checkout line, or better yet, while you're standing in what probably is a very long checkout line, Tomazin suggests that you “give your selections a second look,” and ask yourself if you would buy them at full price. If the answer ranges from “ehh” to “no,” put them down and step away.
Know the return policy.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily.
“Sometimes it really is difficult to make an informed decision in a fitting room,” Tomazin says. Something may look good in theory but you also may not be 100 percent sure until you get home and try it on with other pieces from your wardrobe. In instances like these, make sure you know and remember the store's return policy — highlight it on your receipt and tape it to your bathroom mirror if you have to so that you don't miss the window!”
Now that you know how to prepare, you'll be able to navigate Black Friday towards purchase success that will give you a winning professional wardrobe.
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