WorkWearWisdom: Standing Out Without Sticking Out
Excelling as an employee calls for more than proving your professional
competence - if you want true success, youre going to have to dress for it!
Whether you are trying to fit in, get promoted or are seeking to persuade a potential
client or customer, keep this in mind: While it takes mere seconds to make an
impression, the kind of impression you make will have a long-term impact on
your career. As your committed career partner, AppleOne has compiled some tips to
help you be - and look - your best.
Fashion that Fits In
The best basis for deciding what works in your workplace are the people around you.
If you havent been paying attention to what your co-workers are wearing, now is
the time to start. What is the dress code at your office? Does your company encourage
casual business or strict business attire? Either way, remember that there is a big
difference between standing out and sticking out. As much as you may want to set
yourself apart, wearing the business "uniform" communicates instantly that you are
a mature, stable professional and a member of the team. Companies and even industries
have definable corporate cultures. Find out what your corporate look is, wear it,
and wear it well.
Cleaning Up Your Act
In addition to what you wear, how you wear your clothes is also very important.
Dont wait for the next new year to make resolutions to be neater and be
better-groomed - the sooner you act, the sooner you enjoy the benefits (and
reduce the risk of making negative impressions). For starters, assess your grooming
and hygiene practices. Having neatly trimmed and clean fingernails, a nice haircut
and agreeable breath says you care about details. It also shows courtesy, and
yes, adds to making you a pleasant person to be around.
After taking care of your personal grooming, its time to give your outfits some
attention: check your clothes for missing buttons, frayed cuffs and other needed
repairs. Everything must be clean, neat and pressed. Make sure your shoes are
clean and polished, and, unless your shoes are rubber shoes or something you can
wear to the gym, save those white socks for weekend wear.
Separating Good from Gaudy
Grooming, dressing and accessorizing for work is like a balancing act. There is
difference between smelling pleasant and being a walking perfume cloud. And while
animal-print platform boots may look cool with black blazers, its not very
corporate. Jewelry, particularly body piercings and mens earrings, are rarely -
if ever - encouraged in the workplace. If you are female, keep jewelry to the
minimum - avoid costume jewelry and, like makeup, always keep in mind that
less is more. If you must accessorize, do it the same way youd ask for a
promotion: carefully, tastefully, and only after youve thought it over and
decided it wont get you in trouble.
Mirroring to Get Ahead
A spokeswoman for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu says the accounting practice has a
"dress to win" policy. "It (the policy) is encouraging people to dress in a way
which meets client expectations and mirrors the way our clients dress," she says.
Another variation of this approach is dressing not for the job that you have,
but for the job that you want. Therefore, even if you join a company at a entry-level
clerical position, and want to be promoted to the executive level, dress the way the
executives dress - in appropriate business attire. If you have potential - and you
most definitely do - let them see the executive material in you!
Casual or Too Comfy?
Even if your company has a "casual Friday" dress code (and according to a survey,
about 70% of American employers do), don't go into work as if you have just
tumbled out of the laundry hamper, in crumpled jeans and mysteriously-stained
sweatshirt. Wear clean pressed khakis and a polo shirt or blouse, and shirt and,
again, pay close attention to personal hygiene at all times.
Dress in your corporate culture uniform, and look neat. Combine these two pointers
for appropriate work attire with the right attitude and some hard work - and youre
all set to stand out in any career crowd. More importantly, youll be ready for those
job evaluations, promotions and raises.