Perfecting Your Professional Image at Work
While teaching Professional Development this module, the class discussion eventually led to dressing professionally at work. Students commented on how regardless if it was business casual or not, it was expensive to dress well. Then it dawned upon me that a field trip to a quality consignment shop would help students to discover how to dress with style on a budget.
We contacted The Red Balloon in Wellington, Florida, which is known for its upscale designer clothing offered to patrons at a reasonable price. The manager, Julie Pinello, and associates, Kristina Strassner and Dianne Pino, consented to putting together a few outfits to show the class how affordable it was to dress for success.
The trip proved very successful in helping the students to realize they can look professional without spending a fortune on clothing. They also learned dressing well is a personal impression that does make a difference in how others see your work values in regards to the company's image. Through the coursework and the trip to the consignment shop, students discovered the essentials of perfecting their professional image at work.
Business Casual Attire Quiz
Dressing To Impress
A question often asked during an interview is, "what is the dress code?" The days when employees had to wear suits, dress shirts, ties, and high heels are gone, instead we now have the business casual office attire. What exactly is business casual? Wikipedia defines it as, "generally dressing professional, looking relaxed yet neat and pulled together." And herein lies the confusion: just exactly how relaxed, and what does pulled together look like?
Forty-three percent of non-self employed workers wear casual business attire, another nineteen percent wear uniforms and nine percent wear formal business attire. (Source: Wikipedia.org) This is good for those of us who must wear the business casual look to work. We have plenty to choose from and so many more ways to get the look just right -- or wrong.
Not to fret, once you have started to work on a job the best way to gauge what to wear is to observe what your colleagues are wearing. Note those who are successful at work and have some positive influence. Are they wearing dress slacks to work or are they wearing khaki's? It is important that you get the look right because it will help you to feel comfortable at work when doing your job. Knowing your choices can help you to put together a look that will complement your individual taste and body type.
Keep in mind that dressing appropriately at work helps you to perform successfully on the job. Following the dress code respects your employer's policy and speaks volumes to others on your personal work ethic.
Dressing Business Casual
For those times when you have to dress for an important business meeting, power dressing conveys a person who is authoritative, in control and experienced. For women, dressing in darker suit and dress colors such as black and navy will portray a person who strong and able to compete in the business world. Men dress in dark suits, long-sleeved shirts, formal trousers and neckties to portray this image.
When dressing in business casual or "smart" casual, a tailored jacket or longer cardigan will upgrade your look a level. Add a leather briefcase, tote or handbag and you have the essentials for a pulled together look. However, it should be noted that in general, women wearing a pencil or a-line skirt will give a more professional image to this upgrade.
Pumps, peep toed shoes, and low heels are preferable to flats or sandals when dressing for work. If a sandal is desired, a dressier or strappy design is acceptable. Gym shoes and sports-type wear should only be worn on "Friday" casual days at work. Flip-flops are beachwear and should never be worn to work.
I encourage my students to avoid bright colors as a solid wear, unless it is used as an accent to an ensemble. Jeans should only be worn on specified casual days and dressed up with a blouse or sweater. Again, a tailored jacket will pull the look together nicely. For the men, I suggest they wear a collared shirt or cotton polo with loafers on casual days. As with the women, if jeans are worn avoid t-shirts and opt for the polo shirt instead.
Accessories should be simple and not dramatic. A business casual look is best complimented by simple jewelry such as a ring and watch. A bracelet can be worn if it is not clunky or too bold in color such as a bright gold, red or orange. Earrings are always a nice add, but keep them simple and basic as well.
Color Meanings As Applied To Clothing
Sophisticated, Power, control, Authority
Most preferred by youth/young adutls ages 16 - 25
Customer Loyalty, Trust, Likeable, Integrity
Neutrality, Reserved, Knowledgeable, Wisdom, Security
Can be depressing. Should be worn with complimentary colors.
Strength, Solidarity, Practical, Dependable, Approachable
Neutral color. Relates to shades of beige and taupe
Empower Yourself With Color Psychology.com