Corporate Armour

formal corporateI recently read a newsletter and blog by an awesome coach for high powered women. In it, she talked about ‘letting go of the idea that I need to be suited up to be perceived as credible in my own eyes and in the eyes of others’. The best part of this article speaks about the goal of showing up as your true self in the world. I definitely agree and have devoted my professional and personal life to advancing this concept. However, she also states her belief that “if you are truly comfortable in your own skin, what you wear over it will not impact your presence or effectiveness.” Here she and I differ – there is too much research out there that shows definitively that what you wear does impact both your presence and your effectiveness. Not necessarily inwardly, as you carry your self-confidence with you, but it definitely impacts your communication with others. Context is everything and it’s important to be aligned with yourself and the context within which you’re operating.

It’s true that there are a number of ways to appear credible without wearing a suit and I encourage everyone to find their best way of expressing themselves and caring for themselves by dressing appropriately for themselves and for their personal context. What you wear absolutely matters  – we need you to show up as your whole self and need you to be just as effective and present as you can and your wardrobe choices can help you do that. What are your thoughts? Do you ‘suit up’ according to the context or do you express yourself differently?



  1. Dana November 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm


    While I agree with the idea that you should be yourself and dress accordingly, one should consider their corporate role as well when dressing for success. What one is wearing should be always be aligned with their current role, with the team they are part of and the corporate policy. It is important to be yourself but be part of the whole is equally important.

    • katherinel December 5, 2012 at 1:08 am

      Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your comment. Absolutely, context is important. I’ve noticed that in my experience when there is a big disconnect between one’s corporate role and one’s ‘off-work’ identity, then it could be an indicator that one of the two is out of alignment with who the person really is. I’ve actually had clients change jobs after working on their image and resolving this type of disconnect. I’ve also had clients bring both sides into better alignment and that’s resulted in increased success all around.

  2. Julia James November 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you, Katherine!

    I agree whole-heatedly that a suit isn’t the only way to dress up in a business setting. And black is not the only formal colour. 🙂

    Working with you to identify my personal style, the clothes that suit me best and that I feel best in, has been an invaluable process.

    I highly recommend any woman who still feels she “has” to dress a certain way in order to be recognized in business to work with you, Katherine!


    • katherinel December 5, 2012 at 1:08 am

      Thanks Julia!

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