Your Brilliant Career Podcast
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This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.
One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.
Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.
Style plays a pivotal role in our lives, particularly when it comes to nurturing a brilliant career. Style is the means through which we present ourselves. It's our mode of self-expression, a channel for communicating who we are to the world and how we choose to show up.
In this episode, I am entering controversial territory, to talk about style from the perspective of the way we dress and style ourselves – which some will say is irrelevant, shallow, or simply unimportant. But, I want to talk about it from the perspective of your career and how I believe style can be a potent tool.
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In today’s episode, I am entering controversial territory, to talk about style from the perspective of the way we dress and style ourselves – which some will say is irrelevant, shallow, or simply unimportant.
I want to talk it about from the perspective of your career and how I believe style can be a potent tool.
If you dare… let’s dive in.
Welcome to another episode of the "Your Brilliant Career." Get ready for the ride…Today we are diving into a topic that's both close to my heart and a tad contentious.
Not everyone places the same value on style, particularly when it comes to the way you present yourself and dress… and that's absolutely fine. We all have our beliefs. And this episode may not be for you… and I respect that.
What I want to explore with you today is your style potential and why adopting a more purposeful approach to developing your personal style can influence your success.
I am going to share personal insights into why I value style, how I learned about style and how it has helped me in my career.
Then I am going into some practical ways that have helped me – that I hope will help you - to elevate your style to support your career success.
Style is like art – it's subjective. Style is open to personal interpretation, if reflects individual tastes and expressions. Due to its subjective nature, it allows for diverse and unique representations of our personality and creativity.
As I said in the intro – you already have a style – whether you recognise it or not. The question is … is it the style you want to showcase? Does your style reflect your future self or best self? Are you happy with your style?
I love playing with the concept of style because I believe it can be transformational. It can take you from a place of feeling blah to having confidence and a belief that you can do hard and achieve great things.
I believe that style is one of the most effective ways to transform your self-perception. That is the way you see yourself. Your self-image.
We've all heard the saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Impressions count. We are hugely judgmental as humans. Research conducted by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests that colleagues – that would be your peers - size up your competence, likability and trustworthiness in 250 milliseconds – simply based on appearance.
That is a lot. We partly accept this. We influence the way people see us through our LinkedIn profiles or our Instagram accounts. We are already consciously navigating things and conscious of what we wish to convey.
When I lead and deliver one of our in-organisation women's programs – we often close with a session with the executive leadership team and many of the women present in front of the senior cohort. They all talk about what they are going to wear to that session.
Is it purely to impress? No – not really.
Is it about making themselves feel good – adjusting the way they see themselves in that moment – finding the confidence and positivity they want? And I love that for them.
The way we dress and the confidence we exude through our appearance significantly impacts how we feel and what we believe is possible for us. It’s not about beauty, having high-end fashion choices or being the most creative or individual – it's about the style we want to convey.
You've likely experienced this yourself—put on an outfit that you love and feel good in, and suddenly you feel a dose of confidence emerge.
Now this isn’t imagined – there’s research that tells us people feel more confident, in control and capable when they dress a particular way.
Dr. Jamie Ward, wrote a paper entitled "Wardrobe Effects: How What You Wear Can Shape Your Career". Basically when we dress well, it fosters a sense of control, and boosts confidence. This confidence seeps into how we see ourselves. It makes us feel more capable and therefore we have a greater chance of performing at a higher level.
So fascinating right? So it's not our imagination.
For me and I know many other women are the same because I've had the conversation prior to doing this episode, when they look good, they feel good - it's as simple as that. Dressing in a way that makes you feel confident does wonders for your self-esteem.
When you feel great about yourself, it radiates positivity… and that’s why I believe style can shape your self-image, your confidence and even your capabilities.
So regardless if you’re presenting to the executive leadership team, your new boss, or going for a promotion, the visuals you present to yourself impact your self perception and shape what you believe you are capable of achieving.
I like clothes and I'm often asked about style, which is partly understandable due to my background in the magazine industry and I might add, I have a lot of stylish friends. Look at the wonderful friends on the podcasts who are so stylish – Carlii Lyon, Georgie Abay – recently appointed as editor of Marie Claire, Nicole Sheffield and even look at the very chic Chelsea Pottenger, wellness expert and author of The Mindful High Performer. Gosh, if I went through my past guests – I know I could provide many more examples. All our podcast guests – bar maybe one or two – are people in my network – so I know them beyond episode conversation and can vouch for their personal style.
I also grew up around a lot of stylish people. My mum in particular always looked remarkably elegant going to work. She stood out in our suburban neighbourhood as one of the few working mothers.
A particular memory that stands out for me from my primary school days is one that happened during an open day when parents were invited to the classroom. Most mothers wore casual daytime attire, which was expected. It was the norm.
In contrast, my mom arrived in a suit and heels, which I thought was excessive to say the least for the occasion. It made me squirm with discomfort, even though her outfit was fabulous. It didn’t feel right and there is a lot to be said about dressing appropriately for the right occasion., and in this instant – oh my goodness – it felt so misaligned and I felt so embarrassed. She wasn’t and to this day she’ll defend. And she’ll say - I had a career and dressed for it. I could argue with her until I’m blue in the face but what we can agree on is that she was very intentional about her style, and it has remained a constant throughout her life. She's almost 80 and lives at this very nice village on the central coast. She always puts on an outfit and makeup before commencing her day. Because that is who she is now – and she dresses with intention.
If you were to meet my mum – she exudes inner confidence. She is very vibrant and happy in her own skin. She loves her flair- her individuality and her style …and she gets plenty of compliments.
My style has been influenced by my mum, although it differs from hers. My mum is more flamboyant and daring than me. Over the years, she's encouraged me to take more fashion risks and be bolder with more choices but I've mostly erred on the side of classic pieces.
I’m fine with that. That’s my personal style. We're all unique, and style is a personal expression. I still feel that I'm evolving my sense of style in how I dress and present myself, especially as I get older. That excites me- I feel my style gets better over time and that in turn makes me feel full of possibility.
When it comes to my career I have a foot in both camps – one is firmly in the corporate world where I step into business and present keynotes, workshops, masterclasses, and coaching. And I’ve done this for many years – and I dress for the organisation when I do this.
The other side is my public programs and while many of the women come from corporate, they come on their own terms, and it is a mixed cohort. This side of the business – I have more scope to dress the way I want. It is more casual and fun. I have more freedom, and this is something I love.
Clothes and style help me get into the right mind – they help me become who I want to be – and I know many would say – the way you dress is all hard of your personal brand – yeah maybe – but I do it for me….and I think you should do it for you too.
Style is personal and it can be what you want to it be. My message today is …be intentional when it comes to you style – because as I've said…style is one of the most effective means to transform your self-perception, increase confidence, and in turn, enhance your overall performance.
So now I want to move on to three tips that help evolve your personal style.
First tip is this…Decide on your style statement: I feel this is great place to start.
You've probably never heard of a style statement and that’s because I've just made it up. The idea here is to articulate the qualities you want to embody through your style.
Ask yourself, who do you want to be? Elegant, edgy, relaxed, refined, modern, classy? Think about that for a moment. Maybe choose a few words that describe your ideal style… and write them down on a post-it note.
Another helpful way to think about this is to consider other people. What is it specifically that you like about their style? Because often, we are drawn to qualities in others that we would like to emulate ourselves.
When it comes to my style statement, I've defined it as "relaxed elegance". They are my two words. While I aim for this balance, I prioritise comfort these days - flattering pieces that balance comfort and style – comfort is important to me these days. Gone are the days of staying in high heels all day. Too much.
And I favour well-cut, flattering pieces over overly formal or super corporate-looking outfits. I enjoy adding a pop of bold colour or an accessory to infuse a fresh and contemporary touch.
My style statement guides me to express myself as I wish to be seen.
When you are purposeful about your style it helps you enter situations with more confidence. Think of an important client meeting or a job interview – do you make more effort – yes – why – you want to make a good impression and you want to feel good. So what I’m proposing… why not do it more often – there is a clear ROI for you–
When you decide on a personal style statement it gives you direction and a road map to start cultivating your style journey. So give it some thought.
What do you want your style statement to be? It has to be authentically you and it has something that engages you. You look at those words – and your instinctive reaction has to be yes, that's who I want to be.
That’s a great segway to tip number two which is... Find your sweet spot.
As I mentioned earlier, my style differs significantly from my mum's, and that's perfectly fine. I've learned to find my authentic style, which serves as an expression of how I want to feel and to some extent be perceived and experienced.
In the wonderful world of careers, we work in diverse environments with varying dress codes. Coupled with that when considering style – we also have to account for our moods, individual tastes, and influences - there's a lot at play.
Style isn't about being the most extravagant person in the room, or standing out, or being the prettiest. It's about how you put yourself together in alignment with your values, the business environment, and even your future self. That is the sweet spot.
Let me break it down:
Your style should align with your personal values to ensure authenticity. You shouldn't strive to be someone else, as that's an uphill battle. Instead, aim to be the best version of yourself.
We also need to consider our style in the context of the business environment. So when I go to my clients – I dress for that environment. I would never wear a casual dress or jeans and a jumper – I always dress up for my corporates – I feel that’s who I want to be and I feel it's the right fit.
The final part of the sweet spot - I encourage you to dress for your future self, the one who's rocking her career in twelve months. Visualise what she looks like and what excites you about that image. The more you emotionally connect with that future self, the more likely you are to evolve into her.
In my experience, style is one of the most potent tools for this transformation. Jump on for the ride and it can become a beautiful journey of self-expression, curiosity, and discovery that is visual and tangible. It can give you energy and help you to rise in unexpected ways.
The next and final tip is about shifting your mindset:
Believing that you lack the ability to curate a great personal style becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is, that great style is accessible to all of us. Here are some steps to consider this week to elevate your style:
Write your style statement and attach it to your wardrobe. That’s an easy recommendation.
Here are some that might motivate you.
- Be more intentional… Plan your outfits the night before, ensuring everything from shoes to accessories is thought out. This way, you'll step into a well-prepared outfit that boosts your confidence in the morning.
- Another idea is to experiment with a pop of colour. It could be a scarf tied to your handbag or a vibrant blouse. I vividly remember owning a pair of maroon heels that I loved with a black dress or pants. They added an intriguing touch to my outfit.
- Another thought – and this does require commitment – but strangely I love doing this - declutter your wardrobe and remove items that don't align with your future self-image. I frequently clear out items, which often surprises people as I don't have a massive wardrobe. But getting rid of things is liberating.
Okay that’s it.
There are some fun tips – let me know what you think – if you want me to spend more time talking about style DM me on Instagram at yourbrilliantcareer. I have plenty of contacts from my magazine days to talk to about this topic.
But let me wrap up by saying this – I say this with a career hat on - your style is a powerful tool for self-expression and self-confidence. It is the means through which we present ourselves. It's our mode of self-expression, a channel for communicating who we are to the world and how we choose to show up.
I hope this episode has inspired some new thinking. Thanks for listening and I look forward to catching up in a few weeks.