When you are in a business situation, your appearance sends an immediate, nonverbal message to everyone who sees you. so ask yourself – what would you like your professional image to say about who you are?
If you’d like to project an intelligent, creative, ambitious, yet approachable image, there are some important guidelines to follow. as Stephen R. Covey suggests in his popular book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, begin with the end in mind. Know what message you want to send.
Before you get dressed, give thought to what you’d like to achieve during your workday. How would you like to look, sound, and behave? Begin with the end in mind, just like the architect who draws every detail of a house before the construction crew breaks ground or the contractor hammers one nail. Be the architect of your exquisite image. Plan your professional wardrobe with each piece readily available, so you can intentionally present yourself with impeccable presence for any situation.
The interpretation of business casual has changed over the years. Unfortunately, many women and men have completely abandoned any sense of personal pride when dressing for work. Office managers tell me that even though their company has a dress code, employees show up in clothes more appropriate for hiking rather than for work. supervisors are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment, so they don’t complain.
Dressing unprofessionally is not good for business and not healthy for self-esteem either. If you dress sloppy, you feel sloppy; your work suffers and you can lose ambition. you might as well have a big old stop sign in front of your desk. I don’t want that for you. I want you to grow, build, advance, achieve. I know you can. Here’s how:
Recommendations for business casual attire
• Clothes must fit well and skim the body, without clinging or drooping.
• Well-fitting, good quality jackets or cardigan sweaters give polished presence.
• Skirts and dresses should be no higher than one and a half inches above the knee.
• Waistline of pants and skirts should be no lower than two inches below the navel.
• Tummy, cleavage and lingerie, even straps, should stay covered. Completely. At all times.
• Hair should be clean and styled so it’s not hanging in your face.
• Polished day makeup is a must, every day. learn how to apply it.
• Quality over quantity is your new mantra.
• Sparkly, relaxed, or flirty clothes don’t belong in the workplace.
• Hard-soled, leather shoes with a back or back strap are best for business.
• Flats are fine with pants, but skirts and dresses need at least a two-inch heel.
• Slouchy sweaters,T-shirts,shorts,or droopy pants are absolutely inappropriate.
• Shoe leather should be close in color to belt and handbag but don’t have to match exactly.
• Metals in your eyeglasses, watch, jewelry, belt buckle, and buttons should match – all gold or all silver.
• Clothes and shoes don’t have to be new, but they do have to look new.
• Dress as if you are about to meet the most important person in your life, because you just might.
This is an excerpt from my book, Look Good Now and Always: a do-it-yourself style makeover for busy women, available on Amazon.com.
Marian Rothschild is a certified personal image consultant serving the Denver and Boulder areas, speaker, and author of Look Good Now and Always. Marian teaches successful professionals to have polished presence and confident leadership skills with exquisite intention. Marian coaches on appearance, body language, and communication.