Over the past 12 years, I’ve spent a fair bit of time sitting in company foyers waiting to be greeted prior to hosting corporate leadership branding workshops.

With the advent of “Bring your whole self to work”, I have seen many interesting interpretations to this statement. I’ve seen women wearing short leather skirts, see-through tops, and hot pants and that’s just in the foyer.

While these might be the right choice for the weekend I have a deep fear that women are putting themselves at risk of not being taken seriously in the boardroom. This doesn’t stop in corporate organisations either.

Lately, I’ve seen more and more T.V personalities and Entrepreneurs exposing a crazy amount of cleavage and I’ve wondered why? Is it really necessary? Do you need to expose that much of yourself to get your point across….me thinks NOT!

You all know I’m a huge advocate for women claiming the leadership positions they deserve so when you read this post know that I am coming from a place of wanting to see all women succeed at the highest level.

At the end of the day, women shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they are still going to a place of business to do business.

Given women have so many clothing options they can find themselves in dangerous territory if they don’t balance their corporate image, personal style and what’s on trend.

I’m a huge advocate for “bringing your whole self to work” but as women, we need to keep the focus on the quality of our work and not on our body parts.

Personally, I think “bringing your whole self to work” brings a wonderful opportunity for women to re-discover their true personal style. To date, women have been conditioned to dress and act like men and some of my clients have forgotten how to tap into their strong feminine energy.

One of the most common questions I get asked by clients is, “How can I inject my own personal style and still look office ready?

Here’s a simple formula that I created and share with clients. I hope it helps you find your balance.

Generally speaking an outfit is made up of 3 key ingredients – also known as “Rule of Three”. Here’s a previous article on this. If you follow this formula, it should put you in good stead to strike the right balance.

  1. Always have one structured classic/timeless piece in your outfit. Whether it be classic style pant, skirt or jacket. The structured piece will keep your outfit looking tailored and professional.
  2. Always have one piece (structured or unstructured) that reflects your personal style. This piece can incorporate your style with the use of a print, colour choice or fabric choice.
  3. The final piece should give a nod to what’s on trend and within reason (ie a top, necklace style, scarf, the style of pant, a lip colour, bag or print).

Here are a few examples to demonstrate the above.

Image 1: The overall look is office ready. The skirt is a classic style in an “on-trend” colour being burgundy. Leather can have a suggestive effect, however, because its worn in a structured, classic style/length it’s still office appropriate. You’ll notice the top and sleeveless vest are in neutral/classic styles.

Image 2: The black cigarette pants and top are very classic and timeless. It’s paired back with a classic structured blazer that’s in an “on-trend” colour. P.S Wearing all black on the inside creates a slimming effect.

Image 3: Everything about this outfit is office ready. A classic blazer (with a slight twist) teamed with a pair of “on-trend” culottes. The culottes offer a twist on the classic pant but are well and truly office appropriate.

Image 4: The black skirt is your classic high waisted style. It’s teamed it with a top that is currently on trend and overall the look is office appropriate.

Looking at the above examples, the women all look office ready, on trend and strike a great yin/yang balance that is office appropriate and signals their ready for the next leadership opportunity that comes their way.

Regardless of what’s trending at the moment, try to stay true to yourself. Know what you look good in, what you like and stick to that.

As you get dressed for work tomorrow morning, think about your short and medium term career goals and present a personal leadership brand that is going to take you one step closer to achieving your professional goals.

Here’s to all women claiming the positions they deserve.