In today’s business-casual workplace and organizations operating from co-work spaces, suits and ties and formal dresses no longer seem to be the standard, not even in financial institutions; however, the way a person dresses to the workplace still matters and to a large extent determines how they will be spoken to and treated.
“People who dress better are typically treated better at work,” says David McKnight, a New York City-based image consultant. “They are usually given more responsibility and are shown much more respect.”
Here are tips on what to wear and what not to wear — so you can make the best impression on your boss, colleagues and clients.
“Business casual isn’t a fashion free-for-all,” says Susan Bixler, president and founder of the Bixler Consulting Group. The Atlanta-based consultant has created guidelines for business-casual dress for those just starting out, workers at mid-career and those eyeing the executive suite.
The “baseline” look starts with the three Big Nos
- No flip-flops
- No jeans
- No visible tattoos
- Tailored trousers
- long-sleeve shirts or tops
The “midstream” look is similar but with an emphasis on higher-quality fabrics while the executive version ups the sartorial ante by recommending jackets for men and trouser-style suits for women.
“Any time you want to add authority, put on the jacket,” says Bixler, the author of seven books, including The New Professional Image: From Business Casual to the Ultimate Power Look.
The General Rule:
In journalism, the editor would always as you “leave out”, if you’re unsure; the rule is different when it comes to dressing and style. If you are to attend an interview or a business meeting and are unsure about the dress code, you should ask in advance, then again, you can’t possibly be faulted for appearing in a jacket or suit. Wearing a suit to an interview, meeting or work is a nonverbal way of communicating the fact that you are in for serious business.
Clothes that are too tight, overly generous makeup, too much jewelry, and accessories as well as ‘loud’ fragrance.
Never show up to work in shorts, ripped jeans (not even on a Friday)
Avoid wearing dusty, unpolished shoes to work.
When it comes to dressing, women have more options while the playing field for men is quite narrow and straightforward.
Too Much Skin
“Edgy looks, especially those involving the baring of cleavage, skin or tattoos, rarely cut it at the office, unless you happen to work in a trend-conscious field like advertising or fashion.
“When you’re not sure whether something is appropriate for work, then there’s a 98 percent chance that it’s not,” McKnight says.
The Whole Look
Choosing the right clothing is just one component of your professional look, which includes good grooming and hygiene, as well as being well-rested and mentally ready to face the day.
“There are so many things we don’t have control over, but what we can control is the image of professionalism we show to the world,” Bixler says.