I love movies. From Laurel and Hardy to Dumb and Dumber, I could spend days in the cinema. One of my favourite movies from the 80s is Working Girl, starring Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith. You know the story: secretary is done wrong by her female boss and goes on to get the job she craves (and the man, of course).

From a personal branding point of view, Working Girl is a great example of how what you wear affects how others see you.

Personal branding:your dress code

From secretary to executive!

Take Meanie Griffiths character, Tess. At the beginning of the film Tess is a secretary with big hair, big make up and loud clothes. She has earned her degree, works hard and just wants to get on the graduate entry programme, but no-one takes her seriously. Her boss even arranges a fake job interview with someone who only has one intention, and it has nothing to do with work!

Dressing for success

Dressing for success

Compare this to Sigourney Weaver’s character, her new boss Katherine. Katherine is impeccably dressed, and shows her how its done. When Katherine is laid up with a broken leg, Tess finds out about her betrayal, ends up borrowing her wardrobe and pretends to work at the same level as her boss. By the end of the movie, Tess has changed her hair, softened her make up, lowered her voice and dresses with style. When she attends meetings with high-level executives, they take her on face value and assume she’s “one of them”. She realised that to be taken seriously, she needed serious clothes!

In terms of developing your personal style, Katherine took her dress code from Coco Chanel. Here are 10 quotes from Coco Chanel to take into account when developing your personal style:

1. Dress shabbily and they notice the dress. Dress impeccably and they notice the woman

[Tweet “Dress shabbily and they notice the dress. Dress impeccably and they notice the woman – Coco Chanel”]

2. Fashion changes, but style endures

3. A woman can be over dressed but never over elegant

4. It is always better to be slightly underdressed

5. The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you

6. Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future!

7. A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous!

8. Simplicity is the keynote of all elegance

9. A woman with good shoes is never ugly

[Tweet “A woman with good shoes is never ugly – Coco Chanel”]

10. I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny

Fashion changes every season, but you can be fashionable, classy and elegant. Make this part of your personal brand.


If you’re looking for a job, then why not take my free Get That Job challenge? It covers preparing a resume that gets you interviews, building a killer LinkedIn profile, networking and interview skills. Alternatively my Get That Job Club has an exclusive range of courses and resources designed to help you get the job that you want. Try it for 1 month for only €5.

Take care for now

Karen x

All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove