What Do Rebels Wear at Work?

Happy New Year, Corporate Rebels!

You’re going to notice something different today. I’ve invited my dear friend, Nancy Dilts, to write today’s newsletter.

Nancy is a style consultant. She and I have had many lively conversations about clothes, body image, and feeling your best in YOUR body and YOUR style. It occurred to me that she has a thing or two to say about style for rebels. So, I invited her to share her wisdom with you. What you are about to read will liberate your sense of fashion and connect you to what makes you feel good so you feel more confident at the office. You are no longer limited to tan pants, straight hair, and button shirts (unless you love them).

Please give a big Corporate Rebel welcome to Nancy!

Talk to you next week.


"Clothes invade the body and brain. Putting the wearer into a different psychological state." - Adam Galinsky

Happy 2018!

It's a new year – time for fresh starts, embracing goals, and being who you want to be.

So, what are you wearing? Not the red carpet question, "Who are you wearing?" (eye roll), but what are you wearing? Because, get this – fresh starts, goals, and you being you are affected by your clothes.

For all genders alike, the clothing you wear is a significant factor in how you feel about your physical self. And it both reflects and impacts your emotional wellbeing. Psychologists call this "enclothed cognition." Another more informal term is "ensemble empowerment." Corporate rebels could call it "rockin' my rebel."

The bottom line is this: what you wear affects how you feel. It can change your mood, determine your level of confidence, and impact how successful you feel. It can alter, positively and negatively, your body image and your feelings of self-worth.

Wearing clothes that suit you – meaning they fit your body well (no matter your body type) and reflect who you are in your life right now – feels good. They help you to feel authentic and confident about your appearance, and that confidence shows. It sends a message to you (and, bonus, to others as well) that you care about yourself – that you are being intentional in showing up in the world as your best, true self.

I know firsthand that when I don't dress intentionally for the day, I feel worse. I feel less confident, I'm less productive, I have less energy. Dressing intentionally, even when it's very casual, changes my whole outlook on the day and on myself.

(Source: Deviant Art)

Rockin' Your Rebel

As a wardrobe consultant who specializes in practicing sustainable consumerism, I know a thing or two about being a rebel in my field. Not many wardrobe and image consultants are thinking about environmental and human rights impacts in their practices. A large part of my work with clients is to help them embrace their personal style sustainably, using three strategies:

1. Making your existing wardrobe as functional as possible

2. Shopping new-to-you (second-hand)

3. Shopping ethically when purchasing new clothing

Practicing sustainable consumerism is also a great way to explore "rockin' your rebel" at work – you can find high quality new-to-you items at consignment stores that express your personal style, and experiment with new styles, without breaking the bank.

Depending on your work environment, there are certain codes, levels, and rules – spoken and unspoken – for dressing. When those parameters don't mesh with your authentic self, or you are unsure of how to meet them, that can impact your interpersonal relationships, confidence levels and productivity, ultimately influencing your performance and satisfaction at work. Who knew an item of clothing could do all that?

Think about it – clothing is a large part of the first impressions, and ongoing impressions, we have of the people around us. This is exaggerated in the workplace. It's important to find the balance in dressing appropriately for your work context and not feeling like a faceless cog in the machine.

I talk a lot with my clients about dressing intentionally. Thinking about what you are wearing instead of grabbing the first available item that you've worn 10 times already this month can transform how you feel. Dressing intentionally also allows you to express your personal style.

If you are thinking about what you are wearing, you can select that gorgeous sparkly necklace you love and feature it with the neckline of your top – or – pair the amazing new mechanical watch you received at the holidays with a purple pocket square in your sport coat pocket.

Ask yourself the following questions the next time you dress for work:

Did I think about what I'm wearing today, or just throw it on? Taking a moment to consider how your clothing makes you feel, and responding accordingly, can transform your day.

Will I be taken seriously? Dressing intentionally with both professionalism and authenticity in mind makes all the difference in how you are perceived. Authenticity not only helps you feel like yourself, but also makes you feel real to others.

Am I appropriate for the context of my day? Think about the "who, what, and where" of your day and dress accordingly. A day with the boss or a client is much different than a day at your desk.

And most importantly: What does my clothing say about ME? This is where personal style comes in. It's important that you feel like your clothes reflect your authentic awesome self, whatever that might be. Accessories, color, patterns, textures, and statement pieces can all do that for you.

How will you dress for work tomorrow? Have fun expressing your personal style!


P.S. Want to know more about how to rock your rebel at work? Sign up for my free bimonthly e-newsletter NDWC updates and receive the FREE download created just for Corporate Rebel followers – Rockin' Your Rebel: Personal Style in the Workplace for tips on how to feel both authentic and professional in your workwear. Sign me up here!

Nancy Dilts headshotNancy Dilts, founder of Nancy Dilts Wardrobe Consulting, brings her passions – personal style, positive body image, and the environment – together to help her clients feel great about how they look, using an economically and environmentally sustainable approach. Nancy has an MA in Environmental and Resource Policy and, before launching NDWC, spent close to 20 years working in the field of environmental education and outreach raising awareness about environmental issues and teaching about how our behaviors impact the environment. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband, daughter, and dog, and is certain she will one day find a way to incorporate her other passion – chocolate – into her business model.

Contact Nancy to book a Wardrobe Consult, Personal Shopping session, or service package.