4 Ways To Appear More Confident And Successful

Your appearance may not always help you get what you want in your career, but it can certainly hold you back. Make a poor visual impression on others and they could look down on you for superficial reasons that transfer over to other aspects of the way they see you.

Advising readers to invest in their appearance, Fabulously Broke in the City offers a few easy steps to make yourself look more on top of things:

* Get a haircut. Your most notable feature is probably one you pay significant attention to once a month or so. Maybe you can do better.

* Make your fingernails look decent. Dirty, scraggly nails won’t do you any favors when it comes time for handshakes.

* Exercise. Regular physical activity pays dividends both physically and mentally. You know how you can usually look at someone once and tell whether or not they work out? Be the person who is an obvious exerciser.

* Stand up straight. Posture projects confidence and strength. Force yourself to develop decent posture in hopes it becomes a habit.

Invest in Your Appearance [Fabulously Broke in the City]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    *Pull up your pants, and remove the 1/4-20 bolts from your (head, neck, ears, etc)

    And get off my god-damned lawn.

  2. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    So basically don’t be a fat hunched over hippie?

  3. savvy9999 says:


    • JoeDawson says:

      yes. I will conform when I die and go in a coffin like everyone else. I am NOT cutting my hair. I am a man with a ponytail. I will not cut my hair just so I can conform like every other balding office stooge who looks 45 at 30 years old

      • JoeDawson says:

        Also, I keep it clean, I bathe, and cut my nails. Stupid article about societal “norms”

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          dude, a ponytail isn’t some radical haircut that bucks the system or sticks it to the man or whatever.

          I’m not telling you to cut it to get a job, I’m just saying that it isn’t as hardcore as you think it is.

          • JennQPublic says:

            Shhh! He thinks he’s living on the edge, don’t disillusion him.

            You go, rebel ponytailed man!

            • JoeDawson says:

              I wear it because i have extremely curly hair that doesn’t flatten no matter what I do. It is the only hairstyle i found that works for me. Not trying to be a rebel (any more LOL)

              • The Porkchop Express says:

                I have the same issue, I just keep mine shaved with a #2 or 3. Just getting it to ponytail length would require having a 8″ afro for a while, that I can’t do (way too hot and hard to clean with my hair)

              • cajuncutie01 says:

                I can not shake the mental image of you as an aging man holding on to the 80’s and saying “far out” all the time. The only time I’ve seen ponytails in the past 5 years is on women, liquor store clerks and mechanics.

      • Straspey says:

        Dear Mr. Dawson,

        Thank you for your interest in our company. Although we were impressed with your resume and enjoyed speaking with you in person at our your interview, we have found another candidate who is a better fit for the position. We will keep your resume on file and should another position open for which we will you might be qualified, we will contact you.


        Ann Smith,
        Director, Human Resources

        In fact – A friend who works in a large company here in NY City told me about a woman who applied for a position. She was a perfect fit for the job, except she had a nose ring and a number of other piercings adorning her face.

        The director of HR told the young lady that they were prepared to offer her the job, however her piercings did not fit in with their corporate image, especially if she would be meeting with clients – so if she wanted the job, she would have to be willing to remove the piercings.

        After thinking about it for 24 hours, the woman came back and said she would not be willing to remove the piercings because if she did so, she would feel that she was not being “true to herself.”

        So – she did not remove the nose ring and other piercings.

        She did not get the job.

        And – no – she did not have any legal grounds or recourse to dispute that decision.

        • JoeDawson says:

          I suppose, but i have been at my current company for almost 8 years, and have had one promotion. I will not want to work for a company that places my slightly unorthadox hair (Pulled back tight into a ponytail) above my skills. When I interview for a job, I am clean shaven, my hair is shiny and clean, and I wear a snappy suit.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          This happened at my job as well. A woman in the customer service department applied to the internal job posting for the Assistant to President position. She has a bachelors degree and is very smart and has a nice professional manner, but her presentation was all wrong. Jeans every day, shirts that showed her numerous tatoos, heavy eye makeup and messy ponytails…I really wished she’d have come in more professionally, then she would have gotten that promotion. Now we have some idiot that the headhunter found. Sucks.

          Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

        • valthun says:

          That’s funny, two of my best jobs I have held I got while wearing a mohawk, not one of those fauxhawks, but fully shaved sides and nice and spiked during the interview. I have been to corporate meetings with my hair bleached or colored, and received promotions. My friend has a mohawk that falls to his knees, with a very stylized beard and has a very successful career all the while not conforming to what society says we should look like. I agree that you should be well groomed when looking for a job, such as shaving, trimming the hair to make it look like you take care of it, and it’s not an afterthought, and dressing smart. But I shouldn’t have to look like Mr IBM, the current standard by which we judge appearance.

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            Mind telling us what the businesses were (not necessarily the company name, but the vertical/type of business)?

            • Electric McButt says:

              My question exactly… cause if he says the best job I had was at the beer distributor, it’s going to shed a slightly different light on the argument. Now if he says “The best job I ever had was selling microprocessors to Japanese technology firms,” well then I’ll just shut up and think to myself ‘I’ll be damned.’

      • pop top says:

        You keep raging against the machine with that sweet ponytail bro.

      • exit322 says:

        I have to cut my hair…it’s balding and wavy. Looks absolutely horrible if I let it get too long.

        Some people don’t look bad with a ponytail. It’d probably get me arrested in some jurisdictions.

        • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

          Here, let me help you out: NO man looks good with a pony tail. :o)

          To each his own and whatnot; it’s your hair do with it as you please. But being all “Oooo, lookit me! I’ve a pony tail. I’m so non-conformist and different and sticking it to the man!” is about as non-conformist as, well, being a “conformist”. I’d like to think that doing what you want because you want to, not because it’s in opposition to someone/something else or you feel the need to demonstrate how different you are, is the new “non-conformist”, even if what you’re doing is mainstream.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      Isn’t not conforming simply to not conform being more conforming and aware of society’s expectations, since you’re reacting by simply trying to do the opposite?

      In my mind, you’re deliberately aware of what’s expected, and are expending effort to do the opposite. It seems worse than just doing whatever you like.

      • JennQPublic says:

        Yes, it’s exactly the same thing. I never understand why people try to prove what individuals they are by choosing their style based on it’s relation to other people’s style, whether they are embracing or rejecting it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard some hippie or hipster say they like something, but that they would never wear it, because it’s too mainstream.

    • JennQPublic says:


  4. Dallas_shopper says:

    Basically, don’t look like a fat slob. Noted.

  5. Cat says:

    Aqualung, is that you?

    • Grungo says:

      Eyeing little girls with bad intent is another no-no for career success.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        How do you know if she has bad intent?

        • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

          +1,000,000. I’ve listened to that song hundred of times, including earlier today, and never caught that misplaced modifier. That’s awesome. Little girls can be so lewd, too.

    • kobresia says:

      No, he was caught sitting on a park bench near a rec center in Boulder, eyeing little girls with bad intent. The police arrested him because he was touching himself.

      True story.

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    “You know how you can usually look at someone once and tell whether or not they work out?”

    …Did I miss that class during 28 years of life? I mean sure if a guy is totally ripped and his neck is thicker than my thigh, yes, he likely works out. Other than that it’s kind of hard to tell in a professional setting because of all the clothes people (hopefully) wear.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      I don’t think somebody has to be super yoked to look like they work out. There are a lot of discreet indicators that can tell you. Just looking at how their clothes fit, assuming they fit as they should, of course, will give you a general idea of their physique. Plus, working out doesn’t necessarily mean throwing steel at the gym. Being an avid runner could still be a form of working out. But, you’re right; I do think it’s easier to spot someone who definitely doesn’t work out versus someone who does.

  7. BelleSade says:

    I’m a 5′ tall female who is also damned with having a serious baby face that makes me look about 16, and I’m in a very cutthroat industry dominated by well connected men. How can I appear successful? Seems everyone’s advice is to “whore it up” or lose any trait of femininity I might have.

    • chizu says:

      I totally understand where you are coming from. Especially when I’m the lowest of the totem-pole because everyone else I meet with at meetings, really just want to speak with my principal/boss. It can get pretty difficult to try to show that “hey, look at me!!!!” I do notice I speak differently — more assertively and at a slightly lower and deeper voice (I try to project my voice, but not necessarily loud), and I give one hell of a firm handshake. I have a very big problem with people giving me (especially women) flimsy handshakes.

      But I still think it’s hard. I’m always like, am I dressing up too girly? Not girly enough? Too sloppy? Too formal? Too much makeup? Not enough makeup? Etc.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Yes firm handshake!! Very important, especially if you’re the lone female in an office of dudes!

      • chizu says:

        Woah. I sure can’t string my thoughts together when I’m commenting on Consumerist. :|

        I forgot to mention that if and when I do give a good handshake — people tend to comment on it positively. And when I mention to other people about flimsy handshakes, they also comment on how they don’t like that. So it seems like a good handshake does leave a good impression.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I was just going to post about tips for professional STEM women specifically, here are mine:

      1. Speak up. I am naturally soft spoken around strangers or in situations where I’m nervous and have been told repeatedly by my boss to loud it up especially around customers. If your interviewer or other people on a conference call have to constantly ask you to repeat yourself it will call attention to you in a negative way. Speak up girl!

      2. If your hair is longer than shoulder length wear it up in a neat style. Long hair worn down on a woman (or a man for that matter) who is seeking a higher level job than retail looks too casual.

      3. Invest in at least one good suit. Hit a sale and you can find a good one under $100. As the broke woman in the article says, make sure it fits well – have a tailer do some simple tucks so the pants don’t drag and the jacket doesn’t gap in the boob area. Don’t wear peep-toe pumps or anything like that. I’ve sat in on interviews where the interviewee was…less than appropriately dressed, and was surprised at how much my boss and other interviewers jumped all over that. People definitely notice a sloppy dresser.

      4. Glasses. Especially if you’re in the tech/engineering industry. I too have a young face, everyone thinks I’m 24 and that’s only because they know I went to college. I wear contacts but I’m going to get a nice smart pair of glasses to wear around clients and for any interviews. The right pair can really ‘age’ you and gives that nice studious look.

      5. Clear nail polish. Seriously. Save the french tips and blood red polish for date night or whatever. For an interview use clear, and make sure your nails are not crazy long.

      6. Don’t wear perfume. Like at all. You never know whether your interviewer will be one of those people who can’t stand perfume/cologne. Better to go on the side of caution.

      I don’t mean to insult you in any way, I don’t know what you look like or how you style yourself, but this is stuff I’ve noticed women do that does not translate well in an interview or technical setting.

      • Cat says:

        #4 works well. Mrs. Cat looks much wiser with her glasses.

        If you don’t wear glasses, you can use a pair of +1 reading glasses for your interview. They’re inexpensive and you’ll hardly notice the magnification.

        • snowmentality says:

          Alternately, you can buy a pair of frames online and have them put in plain glass “lenses.” If you want to wear them every day, this might be better, though more expensive than reading glasses.

          Warby Parker, for example, specifically says they will do this. (I don’t work for them or anything, I just looked at buying some glasses from them. Turns out my prescription is stronger than their lab can handle, unfortunately. But I like their frame styles and the fact that they fund programs to improve access to eye exams and eyeglasses in poor areas.)

          • kobresia says:

            I have a pair of glasses just like that, think I got them at Costco or Sam’s or something. I don’t wear them often, but I used to wear them when I was a freelance computer tech. People expect their nerds to look a little geeky, and wearing glasses as an accessory seemed to help a little.

            Also, using sunblock to stay pale probably added to the nerd cred a bit too (along the lines of another of the stories today).

          • Potted-Plant says:

            Be careful about wearing plain glass lenses- the way they reflect light as opposed to real corrective lenses is a dead give-away. It screams “I’m faking it”. Interviews are supposed to present you at your best, not you playing dress-up.

        • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

          – Equip glasses.

          – +1 reading.

          – +1 professional appearance.

      • snowmentality says:

        Actually, I’ve found that a French manicure looks very polished and professional. But it has to be on natural-length nails, not terrifying, claw-like fake nails (which might be what you were referring to). Like, the white part of the nail shouldn’t extend much past the end of your finger.

        I agree on the other stuff, but unfortunately not much of this helps the problem of looking very young. (Putting your hair up can help.)

    • Cat says:

      everyone’s advice is to “whore it up” or lose any trait of femininity I might have.

      Be confident, and know your shit. Wear heels for the interviews, but then lose them once you have the job.

    • pop top says:

      Be professional, know your stuff, have a good handshake.

    • kobresia says:

      Wear a short skirt and a long jacket. Having fingernails that shine like justice and a voice that is dark (like tinted glass) also help.

    • framitz says:

      Be yourself and consider an assertiveness class, it might help.
      Never compromise your values.

  8. JoeDawson says:

    What about Ugly people?

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      If they’re ignored, maybe they’ll go away.


    • Jane_Gage says:

      Boob job. Unless you’re paper bag ugly though, usually medical science can help. Fillers/injectables for wrinkles, chin implants, nose jobs, laser hair removal, tanning or skin bleaching depending on your environment.

  9. lihtox says:

    Sorry, regular exercise is not an “easy step”.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      It is for many people. It is for me. However, I live alone and do not have children so it’s extremely easy to make time for it.

      A lot of companies around here rent space in buildings with attached health clubs with piddling monthly dues, so there’s less of an excuse not to exercise. The health club in this building is $15 a month and it’s actually pretty decent.

    • kobresia says:

      Yes it is– it doesn’t have to be a couple hours at the gym or spending a bunch of time jogging. It can be making a point of taking the stairs and intentionally walking farther (if your work attire makes that feasible).

      There is also just spending 30 min doing a variety of “only yourself required” exercises every couple of days. Youtube is a pretty decent resource for “core-strengthening exercises you can do at home without any investment”, the sorts of exercises that soldiers have been doing for millennia to build strength, stamina, and nice physiques.

  10. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Every payday, get $5 in pennies from the bank. Go home, take each penny, and stick it in your ass. Then take your ass-pennies, and put them into circulation. Do it long enough, and over time, there will be a very good chance that anyone you interact with will have handled one of your ass-pennies. Then, when you have to negotiate with anyone, be it for a raise, or a better deal on a car, you can do so from the position of someone who knows that the person they’re negotiating against has very likely handled something that you’ve had in your ass. You can’t get that kind of confidence from anything else.

  11. jeni1122 says:

    I work for a small tech company in Seattle, so its not like anyone really cares what I wear to work as long as I am covered up, but I take the time to dress nicely everyday. It makes me feel better and people listen to what I say more than when I dressed more casually. I am also the only female and the youngest member on my team, so it behooves me to try and dress semi professional.

    The weird thing is since I have started to dress more professionally at work, several of my other colleagues have started dressing nicer too. Not that anyone was dressed badly before, but I they have started dressing noticeably more professional.

  12. KFW says:

    This is a fascinating read. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m unclear one on point though: should I or should I not crap my pants on a regular basis? What about flossing? What about pulling my nose hairs?

  13. Shmoodog says:

    #5: Meditate. I have an issue where sometimes, when I look people in the eye, I have the tendency to blink at the wrong moment, and it can make me appear not confident.

    After meditating for several days, this does not happen to me, and I feel and appear more confident than I can without it.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      What? You can blink at the wrong moment? I’ve never heard of that… Now I’m worried that I’ve been blinking all wrong.

  14. LadyTL says:

    What is someone to do though when they have really long hair that looks fine but looks hideous in a short hair cut? I try to put it up but it looks messier than if it is loose. Why should I be restricted from office jobs just because I look horrible with short hair?

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      You could braid it. I did that when my hair was pretty long. Not in little girl braids, but a loose braid in back, with barettes holding the sides away from my face. Or in a ponytail, then braid that and loop the end up under the elastic. It was easy and looked more finished than a plain ponytail.

  15. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    If you’re grammar challenged, please work on it. Nothing makes you look like a backward hillbilly than saying “I seen that there report on the table”. I work with someone who speaks this way. She’s a hard worker, and does a good job, but I cringe every time she opens her mouth and speaks this way.

    • jacobs cows says:

      A backwards hillbilly….People from the South dont have a monopoly on poor grammar.Why dont your perfect self get back to work,as you are probably one who steals the companys supplies and internet usage….You are so anal…….

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Actually, I’m from PA. I could care less how she talks to us in the office, or how she talks at home. However, I feel when you speak to customers, you should try to use at least semi correct grammar. It’s not being anal, it’s just expecting people to be a little bit professional.

  16. Segador says:

    Join the military. All four at once!