The Life-Changing Message of The Devil Wore Prada

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There’s a style lesson to be learned that can groom you for success, says fashion coach, Susan Sommers.

There’s a simple style message in this film that can change your life, asserts Susan Sommers, fashion coach and founder of Dresszing™, a fashion coaching and visual communications company.

“People often overlook the potential power of their own personal image,” asserts Sommers, adding that appropriate dress, geared for your job and lifestyle, can actually help you rise to the top. Studies indicate good-looking people get paid more and climb higher than plainer folks and style and grooming—and the confidence and improved communications skills that looking great gives you—are essential components of beauty, she says to prove her point. “The right image can validate and empower you, just as it did with heroine Andy Sachs at Runway, the fictional magazine in the film.”

A former fashion/beauty editor and stylist, Sommers warns that dressing like a fashionista isn’t for everyone, only those in the worlds of fashion magazines, advertising and design agencies or other creative enterprises, although a divorce attorney might want to choose designer clothing to indicate success. “You have to first figure out the impression you want to make and then determine if it’s suitable for your industry, company, location and/or lifestyle,” she said. Here are a few of her guidelines:

  •     Pay attention to your company dress code, which will probably spell out not only what business professional and business casual means, but also what you can and cannot wear where.
  •     Follow your boss’s lead if the dress code is limited or non-existent.
  •     Dress more formally when meeting a client or contact for the first time. For some, this might mean a business suit (and tie, for men), for others, an unmatched outfit (a jacket over shirt or sweater set with skirt or pants for women; a sport jacket, dress shirt and trousers, with or without a tie, for men).
  •     Be guided by the attire of those you’re meeting with on subsequent occasions. If they are dressed casually, you might want to forego a suit for a more relaxed outfit. However, make sure whatever you have on is a notch or two higher in quality than your client.
  •     Consider what you’ll be doing during the day. If you’re an industrial engineer who’s crawling around wires, jeans and a polo shirt might be most suitable, even if you’re doing so for a bank. A litigator has to be very judicious about clothing choices for court—anything too trendy might be badly received by a jury.
  •     Pass up provocative clothing. Whether working in the front or back office, baring a little too much can undermine a woman’s power.
  •     Avoid sloppy, soiled or frayed clothing and scuffed, down-at-the-heels shoes. Whatever you put on should be cared for, clean, neat and pressed—no matter what your title.

Of course, clothes don’t make the man (or woman), but they do help to tell the world who he is. “And now, when snap judgments are the rule, you don’t have a second chance to send the right instant message,” says our expert.

For more information about Susan Sommers and Dresszing—and to sign up for her free monthly newsletter (that will ensure you never take another style misstep)—please visit


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Susan Sommers
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