Women in Law

Friday Live: Dress for Success

Kitty and Julia prove if you want to get ahead, get a hat!

On the last Friday of March – a bright and sunny day (Spring has truly sprung) – we were joined by stylist Krisztina Ambrus from Imago Styling and hat makers Tamara Williams and Tania Fraser from the City Milliner for an afternoon of tips on how to style yourself for success, and how to find the right hat style for you: these women are on a mission to bring style – and hats – to the city.

Our visual appearance is more often than not what amounts to the first impression others have of us. Like it or not, people are generally more attracted towards, and feel more comfortable around, those who exude the best impression. The effort you make can be seen to reflect your value set, and often people can infer that the amount of effort you put in to your appearance will directly correlate with the amount of effort you put into other elements of your life, including your work. Not only is this a factor but moreover, when we dress well, we feel more confident. This, in turn, means that we will do a better job. Performance and psychology are inextricably linked, so giving yourself a boost in your mind will give you the edge in your day to day life.

Colour can also transmit a really powerful message. Just as in the animal kingdom, certain colours can tell our peers different things about our personality and our mood. Krisztina asked the room what personality traits they associate with different colours. Their answers were probably typical of most people. Red – powerful and assertive. Blue – cold and serene. Yellow – fun, quirky, happy. Black – serious, professional. Green – exotic. White – empathetic, corporate, approachable.

The psychology of colour extends to the uniforms we see worn in certain professions. The black and white of policemen exudes a sense of authority first and foremost, but equally demonstrates trustworthiness and approachability: so too, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Barack Obama, one of the most powerful people in the world, nearly always teams a very dark suit with a white shirt and a dark, coloured tie. The blue and black often favoured by banks, including Barclays, is designed to transmit an image of calm, composure and competence. One very interesting case that Krisztina shared with us was that of EasyJet staff. They noted that their air stewards, when wearing drab white and black uniforms, were often subjected to abuse by passengers – there did not seem to be a huge amount of respect for their staff. After consulting a psychologist, they decided to change their uniforms to the bright orange which is now synonymous with their brand. Since making the change, their crew are treated with much more respect, thanks to the authoritative yet approachable combination of orange, black and white.

Krisztina shared some of her best tips on how to dress for a corporate environment:

  • Tailoring is vitally important – 20% of your clothing budget should be allocated to this.
  • Navy, dark brown and charcoal are good alternatives to the traditional black when purchasing a suit (contrary to popular belief, black does not suit everyone).
  • Men can inject personality into their outfits with a pocket square, without compromising their professional image. The same can be said for brooches and scarves for women.
  • Bottle red, deep green, purple and plum are great staple colours for women – they all complement each other and are a great professional alternative to black.
  • The more senior you want to appear, the lighter the colour of your shirt should be. Fun pastels are fine for more junior members of the team.

We finished the session off by trying on some hats, having our heads measured and finding out exactly what hat style suits us. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and we would like to thank the ladies for injecting some style into our spring afternoon.

By Kitty

Kitty joined Obelisk Support as an intern to work on the First 100 Years project. She graduated with a classics degree from University College London and now manages resourcing and works on engagement with the Obelisk Lawyer community.