DRESS FOR JOB SUCCESS

In 1977 I read a book by John Molloy, called Dress for Success.  A few later I read Molloy’s The Women’s Dress for Success book.  In his books, Molloy explained his research on the relationship between clothing and effectivess at your job.   His research began with a small grant exploring whether how teachers dressed affected how much children learned.  His findings showed that a teacher dressing like the upper middle class led to children learning much more. Molloy continued researching, creating many innovative methods for determining the effects of clothing.  His books are based on his research, not on fashion, and are helpful to achievers in most fields of endeavor.

My awakening to this concept came one day while in the snackroom in the basement of the Federal Interior South building in Washington, DC.  While there, the assistant director of the agency I worked for came in to buy a snack.  When he saw me, his eyes and brows grew wide and he momentarily stopped in his tracks before saying hello.  I thought about this encounter and what might account for it.  This process included considering what I was wearing.  BINGO!  I wore red pants, a pink shirt, a white tie with pink polka-dots.  Walking home after work I stopped at a book store to find a book on proper attire, and found John Molloy’s Dress for Success.  I read it, underlined it, taught it in an adult education course, and slowly changed my work clothes to reflect Molloy’s research.

Despite half of my face being paralyzed and my gait being really messed up, I was able to still advance in my career.  So what exactly does Molloy say that can help you in your career?  The look to have is that of the upper middle class.  For men that usually means a blue or grey suit (solid, herringbone, pin-striped, glen plaid, hounds tooth) or navy blue or camel sports jacket, with a white or light blue shirt or a pin striped.  No facial hair is best . Ties should be conservative foulard, repps, solid, polka dot, or paisley.  Men’s jewelry should only be a gold watch, a cross pen, and a wedding ring, if married.  Dark socks and black or dark brown shoes.  For women that usually means a skirted suit, nothing too feminine, not much if any makeup if your under aboutmuch 40, sensible shoes with no high heels, very little jewelry.  The person in the news that has this look is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.  If you look closely you will see a very beautinful blonde woman who plays down her beauty and sexuality to emphasize her mind. No/little makeup, no/little jewelry, proper women’s business attire, sensible shoes, etc.  Secretary Nielsen knows what she’s doing.  It’s no accident that President Trump appointed her Secretary of Homeland Security.

On the other hand, there are some very beautiful and sexy women who achieve career success despite their dressing to attract a mate rather than depict their competence on their sleeve.  The person that comes immediately to mind is the White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks.  Ms. Hicks is only 29 years old and should not be wearing much makeup and should be wearing a skirted suit, though her pants suit in this photo with President Trump isn’t bad.  Compare her photo with that of Ms. Nielsen.

The look to achieve for maximum effectiveness in a professional work setting is that of the upper middle class.  Molloy’s books are currently about 40 years old but I have not seen anything that explains things as well.

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