Dress for Success
What you don’t know — about how to look professional — can hurt your career.
“You can’t judge a book by its “cover” is a popular saying. But like it or not, many people will judge you by your “cover.” You may have loads of intelligence and ability, but you may never have the chance to show it if your appearance causes a client, coworker, or member of senior management to reject you out of hand.
It only takes a few seconds for another person to size you up. They may have you all wrong, but if so, you may have helped steer them that way by the way you’re dressed.
“Appearance helps an employee create an image of someone who is professional, trustworthy and a pleasure to work with,” say Julie Griffin Levitt and Lauri Harwood, authors of Your Career: How to Make It Happen. “This image is important for personal career success and for representing the workplace to customers and the public.”
The way you dress could stall your career. If it prevents people from taking you seriously, you may be passed over for a promotion. Your manner of dress is even more important if you interact with clients face-to-face, since to them, you are the face of your company.
Here are a few of the things that are inappropriate in most workplaces:
In a nutshell, don’t wear clothes you’d wear to a nightclub, a volleyball tournament, or the beach to the office. You don’t have to invest in a huge work wardrobe. Just make sure each piece of clothing is appropriate for your workplace and is clean and pressed. And look in magazines or on the Web for work-appropriate makeup and hairstyles.
To prevent fashion faux pas, familiarize yourself with your company’s dress code. It may be spelled out in the company manual. Also, take note of what other people around you are wearing. And most importantly, dress for the job you want. Make it easy for people to focus on your superior performance, not your inappropriate appearance.
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Unfortunately my company doesn't have an official dress code, so some people take advantage of this. One of my co-workers regularly comes in wearing clothes that clearly should be worn anywhere to a nightclub or a bar. The ultra mini lycra skirt and mile high heels she wore - not only did not fit her body shape, she just looked plain trashy. Her excuse is always that people are jealous of her. But with no dress code, she continues to wear see-through/too short/too tight clothing.
I like that you added at end - look what people around you are wearing - but i would push that up a notch - look what senior management is wearing. If you have casual Friday and your boss never wears jeans - don't either.
And easy on the things that make you smell good.....it can give someone else a headache!
Where I work for the Federal Gov't, we have casual Fridays, but some women take it to a completely inappropriate level. Such as wearing leggings (which I feel are inappropriate for the office - even on a casual day); short, short skirts with cowboy boots and low-cut clingy tops....they're especially proud of those big fake boobs they're making payments on and take every opportunity to display them....I'm just saying........dress as though you're going to attend church........
Several years ago, I was training in an office where every Friday was casual day. The woman who was training me came in dressed in an incredibly short skirt that was on the very edge of being obscene, a Harley-Davidson tank top, hooker heels, and hoop earrings I could have worn for bracelets. I was in shock. Nobody said a word to her!!! There is definitely a need for people to understand what professional work attire is. She may have been professionally dressed to tend bar or swing around a pole, but definitely not for an office!
Thank you for the Dress for Success tips. I can only hope that someone else in this corporation reads this outside me. I am still in the Old School Style of Dressing, everyone else except for (2) are corporate casual meaning anything goes because they say they are good in their job and that is what counts. I say both doing a good job and dressing the part is known as Professional in all aspects.
Faye (Old School) I CAN'T GET AWAY FROM IT.
Many communities have "Dress For Succcess" programs for women reentering the workforce or those that have no resources. They provide education, tips and clothing to help women find the jobs they need and deserve. Most YMCA or YWCA programs have links to these resources-start looking and see that there is help for anyone that needs it.
Thanks for the interest in Midwest dates for the Women's Conference. Depending on response, we will be adding more dates in the summer. We'll keep you posted. Not sure we're you're located -- let us know and we'll do what we can. Here are a few dates in the Midwest and upper midwest:
5/16/11 Madison, WI
5/17/11 Brookfield, Wi
5/18/11 Chicago, IL
5/19/11 Bloomington, MN
5/20/11 Kansas City,MO
2/15/11 Denver, CO
Our policy states that you can wear jeans if they are not "blue", so dark blue, black, grey, etc. are allowed. We have two who wear skinny jeans, one who fits in them and one who doesn't. They both look unprofessional but management does not speak to them about it. Hope they get this email also!
The 2011 Women's Conference are only in East/West & South. What happened to the Midwest? I really would like to attend but the travel would be more than the conference.
This is good advice. People wanting to move up the career ladder may not be able to afford a "professional" attire and it is sometimes discouraging when one sees outfits in magazines that are priced way out of their budget. However, second hand stores, church resale shops and charitable organizations (such as Salvation Army stores)quite often have clothing that is worth investing in - still in good condition, sometimes even new, and not expensive. It's worth checking out.
Thank you for encouraging modesty!
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