According to a recent study, good looks can equate to good money in the workplace. For many people – translation: your supervisor, coworkers, potential clients and business partners – appearance equates to performance. A sharp dresser, for instance, can be perceived as quick-witted and focused, whereas, someone who is shabbily dressed can be seen as having a poor work ethic.

In fact, when it comes to the qualities that people most often associate with professionalism, a person’s appearance ranks second only to good communication skills.  For women in particular, the more pleasing you are to the eye, the greater your chances are of advancing professionally and in turn, making more money.

Sounds crazy? Well, you won’t get any arguments from me on that one. Maybe it teeters on the edge of being sexist? I’m going to say … mmm, probably, yes. But, if you’re a professional woman like me who knows that if you look good, you feel good then you will do good, you might want to put away that side-eye for a quick moment and read on.

I’m not much different from most people who will read this post. I am a natural born skeptic.  Then, I remembered my own story. It was only a few years ago that I started a new job and quickly became known for two things: my curly hair and the way I dressed. There wasn’t a single week that went by that someone didn’t either comment or compliment.  After a year, I was promoted, and a little less than three years after that, I had nearly doubled my starting salary.

Do I believe that all this happened because of the way I look? Heck no!  I’m a hard worker with an incredibly keen work ethic. But, here’s what I do believe: perception is reality. And, going in, I knew I wanted to make an impact and stand out as a leader. So, that was the image I began to cultivate.  In other words, I dressed for the role I wanted to play even though I didn’t have it at that point.

So, what the heck does all this have to do with you, exactly? Simply put, the way you look matters. I know. It’s downright depressing to think that in spite of the countless accomplishments women have made in virtually every field, our overall success is still tied to how attractive other people think we are.

But, the truth of the matter is, people do and will draw conclusions about you based solely on what you look like. Take Hillary Clinton for example. Despite your personal feelings about her, there’s no denying that she is shaping American history as the first woman ever to win a major party’s nomination for president!

As amazing as that is, at least publicly, few women have been ridiculed for their looks as much as Mrs. Clinton has. She’s gone from the studious looking law student, to the somewhat frumpy First Lady, then the no-nonsense Senator and Secretary of State and finally, the more authoritative yet approachable presidential candidate.

Over time, her image has evolved. Why? Because she wants to be our Commander in Chief, and she is dressing for the role she wants to play. If her story — and even mine –doesn’t serve as proof about the power of personal image, then I don’t know what does.

Now that you have this knowledge, I want to help you make it work to your advantage. Do a quick favor for me and envision what success looks like for you. Is it a promotion at work? Maybe you’ve finally decided to launch that new project you’ve been thinking about for so long? Or, perhaps you’ve figured out how to make your side hustle your main hustle? Once you’ve settled on your vision – whatever it may be – I want you to ask yourself this question:  Am I dressed for the role I want to play?

If you’re having a hard time answering the question definitively, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Lots of women can’t. Not because they don’t know or don’t have the resources to create a killer style aesthetic.

It’s that they simply don’t have the right information. Unfortunately, the road to personal style success can be hard to navigate given the many obstacles (aka distractions) there are to get through:

  • Adapting the latest fashion trends to fit your own lifestyle
  • Learning the art of business casual
  • Understanding how to dress your body, especially if you’re a member of the B&B (Boobs & Butt) crew

Believe me … Been there! Done that!

But, discovering your inner style star shouldn’t feel like work. It should feel natural. After all, there’s nobody in this world quite like you. You’re unique, so embrace it. Because of all the options we have, the concept of personal style can become overwhelming pretty quickly. To overcome it, I find it’s sometimes easier to focus on what NOT to do. Some personal style tips might include:

  1. Being overly provocative: Personal style is just that, it’s personal. So, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing your personality in the clothes you choose. But remember, there’s a time and place for everything and when it comes to winning over people in the workplace or wowing a potential client, you have to be careful that the message your outfit is conveying doesn’t alienate the people you want to impress the most.
  2. Wearing clothes that are considered inappropriate: Fashion designer Miuccia Prada once said, “Fashion is instant language.”  Are the tight pants, blouse that shows too much cleavage or the sky-high heels you’re wearing telling your colleagues or clients that you lack good judgment? These days, what is and is not appropriate appears to be up for interpretation, but generally speaking, being in tune with your environment is an excellent place to start. For example, if you have a meeting in a law office – many of which still adhere to a pretty conservative dress code— you probably wouldn’t want to show up in khaki’s and a polo shirt.
  3. Failing to dress with intention: Your style of dress can serve as a powerful extension of your personal brand. What you put on your body in the morning can either reinforce or diminish your skills in the eyes of employers, co-workers and potential clients. So, the lesson here is twofold: choose wisely and dress for the job you want (assuming you don’t already have it, rock star!).

Let me know what you think. Tell me in the comments if you think appearance plays a part in how much money you make.