Are You Ready to Walk the “Red Carpets” In Your Life?

Another red carpet Oscar season has come and gone with the fashion critics all in agreement:  everyone looked smashing this year.  From Nicole Kidman’s Balanciaga to Helen Mirren’s luscious Lacroix, the praise for this year’s for this year’s Oscar dresses was loud and plentiful.  No bicycle pants-wearing Demi Moore or wild Cher outfit in the bunch.

Much to the skeptics’ annoyance, I’m sure. There’s nothing like a fashion misfire on the red carpet to send tongues wagging or cameras flashing. Oftentimes, the biggest “fashion losers” of the night snare the lion’s share of publicity.

So what does all of this have to do with you?

Well, if you think that the only people who get scrutinized and snickered at for their fashion faux pas are those who make truckloads of money and walk the red carpet, you’re wrong.  People pass judgment on YOU every day based on how you look.  And if those people happen to impact your paycheck in some fashion, be they clients or potential employers, how you present yourself could mean a HUGE difference in how much you ultimately make.

Think for a moment about your favorite red carpet darling.  Is it Halle Berry?  Selma Hayek?  Nicole Kidman?  Catherine Zeta-Jones?  All are known for their sense of fashion and all consistently turn heads at industry-related events.  So how have their extra efforts paid off over the years?

Well, they all have top designers vying for their attention and legendary jewelers offering to drape them in mind-boggling gems.  They also frequently land magazine covers, which keeps them in the public eye and on the minds of producers and casting agents.  Then there’s those lucrative cosmetic and fragrance contracts, which help them further fund the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed.

All because they take the time to look like the movie stars they are.  Now you may be thinking that you could look pretty hot, too, if you had an army of stylists and wardrobe people at your disposal.  But you know what?  These gals didn’t start out that way.

  • When Hilary Swank won her first Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry (1999), she made just $3,000 for the role – which is the only acting gig she had that year.  She couldn’t afford health insurance.  But after a decade in Hollywood, she knew the importance of looking good on the red carpet, and working the Hollywood awards system, managed to score some beautiful gowns for the 2000 award season, including the stunning Randolph Duke she wore to the Academy Awards that year.  Almost instantly, her profile, acting opportunities, and income skyrocketed.

So what can you learn from all of this?

That looking good, keeping a high profile, and taking home a big paycheck all go hand-in-hand.  I’ve cited the entertainment industry here, but think about the industry you’re in and see if it doesn’t hold true.  Who are the leaders in your chosen field?  Who’s writing the biggest orders?  Penning the most talked-about articles?  Getting the plum speaking invitations?  It’s probably NOT the person who shows up to work looking like she slept in her clothes.

Often, the difference between success and bigger success can be subtle.

My husband is a college professor with a doctorate in Bio-Chemistry.  He usually reports to work in casual pants (like chinos and khakis) and a collared shirt.  The students in his lab and classes refer to him as “Dr. Sikes.”

One of his peers is a woman of similar training who often goes to work in t-shirts and pants that look like they were stuffed in a drawer.  The students in her lab and classes call her by her first name.

Both professors log the same kind of hours and manage similar groups of undergrads.  Yet while Robert is enjoying an escalating career that includes choice speaking gigs and an elected office in one of his industry associations, the woman is not really well known outside of the university.

Needless to say, she refuses to believe the difference in their profiles has anything to do with how she dresses.  She cites “luck” and limited opportunities for women in science as the reasons for her stalling career.  One of these days I’m going to coax her into a consultation to show her how wrong she is, but until then, she’s resigned herself to the “B-list” of her industry.

Have you?

Are you settling for less than you should because it’s a lot of trouble to dress for the “red carpet” moments in your work life, like  interviews, presentations, and meetings?  Are you missing plum opportunities because you think that the only place to get nice clothes is at expensive department stores or boutiques?  Are you waiting until you land that big promotion to dress like you should have the role?

If so, you’re probably working a lot harder than you need to.  Packaging yourself properly is SO crucial in our society that to underestimate it is, well, foolish.

Think all your red carpet favorites would still be your favorites if they always dressed like they were ready to garden or wash their cars?

Probably not.  They also wouldn’t have the cosmetic contracts, magazine covers, or script offers that they currently enjoy.  They know full well that much of their success stems from how well they play the role of screen star WHENEVER there’s a camera around.

So think about that the next time you’re tempted to cut corners in your business attire.  If you’re always ready for the “red carpet” moments in your career, you’ll be astounded by how many MORE “red carpet” moments will come about as a result.

Business Wear MagicNeed some help in putting together a winning business wardrobe?  Download a copy of BUSINESS WEAR MAGIC to see how easy dressing for your industry can be.


to see how easy dressing appropriately for work can be.

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of “Wardrobe Magic,” an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at .

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