Tell us all about your best confidence outfit. Don’t leave out the shoes or the perfect accessories.

Confidence outfits are irrelevant to me these days, and have been for a long time, since I retired two years ago. Before that, I was a teacher for 15 years, and while I always tried to dress nicely enough while working in a child-oriented environment, I tried to look like a responsible adult who could garner their respect. Teachers at the schools I worked at dressed fairly casually, but nicely, which for working with children is appropriate. You really don’t want to wear things to school that need to be dry-cleaned every time you wear them, or restrict you from occasionally sitting on the floor.

When I worked at a large, well-known trade association involved in entertainment (pre-children), I dressed in an entirely different manner. Obviously I was much younger then, and my clothes were somewhat business-like, but trendy. It was usually important to look nice, and well-dressed. We also had one of the biggest annual conventions in the country and it was great fun to get special clothes for that. We also had committee and board meetings a couple of times a year which I attended to take minutes, so I always tried to look more business-like for those.

My daughter-in-law works at the Pentagon, and she always wears a suit or dress and jacket, believing that since the military she works with come to the office in full uniform, she should conform in a like manner. I agree with that, and I think that if a woman wants to be taken seriously in a business environment, she should dress in a ways that suggests professionalism, even if it’s in a feminine way. I really dislike seeing women in professional office wearing suggestive or overly dressy clothes.

Some people buck the norm and dress however they want, and I’m thinking that they must be pretty good at their jobs, or have the self-confidence to carry it off, but customers, clients, and potential employers do judge employees on how they look, though it may be only part of the assessment. So trying to create an image that says, “I’m competent, I’m reliable, I want this job,” is useful. It is helpful, however, to be comfortable in what one wears. We all have favorite outfits what just make us feel put together and comfortable, and that helps one feel confident.

I rarely wear jewelry, and while I buy it with the intention of wearing to spruce up my look, I just feel overdone with a glitzy or colorful necklace on. (Perhaps I just don’t have the self-confidence to pull it off.) My youngest daughter, on the other hand, will wear things together that I wouldn’t consider — long rolls of pearls with a sweater and jeans, showy long earrings, big bracelets — not all at the same time — and it looks good! But even when I see women my age with cute jewelry I admire — I try to copy them, but it’s just not me.

I have also found that some people whom I think look good most of the time don’t necessarily spend a lot on their clothes. Some people seem to be blessed with a flair for fashion; the rest of us have to just try our best, copy what we like on  others or on store mannequins, and look our best!