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Dress Is More

Tips for dressing for success no matter your style
September 1, 2000

Don't fool yourself: Appearances still count, whether you have a casual office or a more formal setting with once-a-week casual days. Why? Psychologists say we size up strangers in a matter of seconds by their appearances-and appearances can either reinforce an image, or negate it. So, if clothes talk, shouldn't your wardrobe be speaking the right language? If you don't dress for the role you want to play, you'll have a hard time making it to center stage. Fortunately, dressing appropriately is an easily learned skill. Read on to discover formulas for packaging yourself for perfect impact.

Robert McGarvey and Babs S. Harrison live and shop in the San Francisco Bay area. McGarvey proudly limits his annual clothing purchases to under $500. Harrison confesses to spending "a bit more," a fact proven by her overflowing closets.

Dressing Down

OK, you probably don't want a stiff, banker-style look, but it actually is much harder to dress casually yet with authority. A $1,000 suit says "I'm important." How do you get your message across in more modest threads? Know this: Dressing down for work does not have to mean dressing sloppy.

On A Budget

You don't have to go into hock to look right. If money is tight, outlet malls are your best friends. With $500, you can fill the trunk of your car with bags of clothing from Banana Republic and J.Crew, whose outlets all offer great basics for work. Just remember, choose classic pieces in a palette of neutrals, and accessorize with colors and prints of the moment.

What will you save? Discounts of 40 percent are common, and 80 percent isn't unusual. Stumped about where to find a nearby outlet mall? Try this site: It's not that easy to use, but Outlets Online does offer an extensive list for bargain hunters.

Help Is Out There

If you feel seriously fashion-challenged, get expert advice and assistance at these sites:

Brain Food

Some more good resources to peruse: