The importance of the imporession you make at work cannot be underestimated. You may wish people didn’t judge others by looks, but unfortunately that’s the way the business world works. If you show up to work with scuffed shoes, unclean clothing and bad breath, you’ll not go far in your job and it’s as simple as that.
As hinted at, it’s not just what you wear that forms an impression, of course, but your attitude, body language and actual language as well. In this article we’ll deal with just the common work wardrobe issues that tend to hold people back. While I go into more detail in my upcoming book about this important subject, following are a few pointers.
NOTE: Jobs may vary and there are different dress codes suitable for various industries and positions, however these guidelines are fairly universal and are also things most people don’t tell others.
Shoes: Keep them clean, whatever the material, and polished if they are leather. Scuffs, tears and other damage is not acceptable. You may think no one will notice, but many employers use the shape of someone’s shoes as an indicator of the quality of their work and their level of integrity. Not many jobs are suitable for flip flops or super high heels; always tend toward the quality, conservative look.
Skirts/pants: Neither too long nor too short. Sounds reasonable, right? Do a little research on proportion by looking around at other people whom you find to be well-dressed. Try checking out a career dressing book for some tips. Short skirts and too-short pants seem to be the worst offenders – and the most common. Ladies, even if hte short skirt makes you feel powerful and gets the attention of the boss, it’s definitely not the right kind of attention.
Dated fashion: Think shoulder pads, wide collars and corduroy here, among other things. On the flip-side is trying to follow the latest fashions, which may not be appropriate for hte workplace either. Save the super fashions for the weekend and go for quality, classic pieces for the workplace. If you think your wardrobe may be seriously outdated but cannot afford a new one, enlist some help from friends or colleagues and try a) replacing o adding in a few key peices for mixing and matching a more current look and/or b) see if you can’t find ways to update pieces you love.
Hair: Unless you’re a funky hairdresser or a rock star, there’s not a lot of room for crazy hair in the workplace – if you want to get ahead, that is. Anything that is quirky will get you noticed, but not necessarily in a good way. Yet again you may feel you’d like to be appreciated for your personality and the great job you do, but take it from the experts, who all agree that being funky in the workplace will hold you back. How can your boss consider you for that meeting with a new potential client if he doesn’t know how the client will react to your pink hair?
Tattoos and piercing: Sorry, folks – visible tattoos and piercings send clear negative signals to a lot of people. You may not be intending to send such signals, but those who have the power to help you in your career may choose not to based on these expressions of individuality.
Skin: Showing too mcuh, that is. As with too-short skirts, this is a mistake many women make, and I think it’s because we don’t know how to show our power without it being feminine power. You can be gorgeous and professional; well put together, respectable and beautiful. In fact, you will garner more respect in a knock out, well-fitted business outfit than you ever will in a short skirt, low-cut blouse/sweater and high heels. When you’re the boss…then you can wear whatever you want!