In the real world, professional success is not only determined by the number of qualifications and certificates hanging on that wall or the excellent business skills or experience which you may have under your career belt. Your personal appearance is considered to be one of the most determining factors in order to successfully promote yourself and your career and the organization you work for. Let’s face it, a professional and polished look will speak volumes about your competence, personality and credibility apart from being pleasing to the eye. First impressions are important, not to say crucial. If you are a woman reading this article you do not need further encouragement to read on, if you are a man, yes, this article applies also to you – so keep reading too.
The Queen of England is reported to have told to Prince Charles: ‘Dress gives one the outward sign from which people can judge the inward state of mind. One they can see, the other they cannot.’ These are true pearls of wisdom. What she clearly meant was that people judge us by our outward appearance, whether we like it or not and in most situations what we decide to wear sends a powerful message to our organization, colleagues or the clients with whom we decide to conclude business every day. Striving to achieve a polished look is far from being a fashion victim and no-one wants to arrive at a meeting looking sweet or cute or all the rage and super trendy. Also, it does not mean that you have to spend a fortune on designer or branded clothing to make you look good. The way you dress for business depends on a multitude of factors, in particular, on the line of business in which you work and your clients’ expectations and what they want to see when they meet you for business. Today, image and fashion consultants are being regularly hired by business organizations to teach people how to project themselves in the best possible way taking into account the applicable dress code and company specific rules and guidelines relating to what employees should wear to work. This approach is highly recommended for businesses and it is a great investment too. Whilst the employees’ image will be enhanced in the hands of experts (and this is a great morale booster) the business image is also taken to the next level from an outdated and old-fashioned environment to a polished and professional one. A radical overhaul may effectively change customers’ perception of the business from an outdated and old-fashioned organization to a modern working environment and as a bonus business profits and prospects may also increase.
Professional attire for women
Business clothing should never overpower your professional skills and competences. On the other hand, your choice of clothing should empower you and enhance your professional image and should be appropriate for your career level and industry within which you operate. The applicable dress code should also be given due importance. If you are unsure of what your organization expects you to wear at work you should consult with the appropriate department or your superior. A skirt or trouser suit is the simplest way to update your work wardrobe for a contemporary look. If you prefer ‘classic’ and ‘conservative’ over modern choose from the latest fashion trends. Invest in a high quality suit with a good cut, quality materials and an impeccable fit. The colour may range from simple and basic black to grey and pinstripe to bolder colours such as red or orange if you are a creative and confident type. Consider your purchase as an investment in your career future – a beautifully tailored suit will make you feel confident and you will enjoy many happy hours of comfortable wear for a longer time than when you invest in clothing of inferior quality and cheaper price. A varied selection of blouses and shirts will provide an interesting change to any business wardrobe to mix and match according to the business exigencies of the day. A great suit will look stunning with the proper shoes and accessories, which should be smart, stylish yet comfortable, simple and not fussy. Good grooming will instantly update your look and enhance your appearance making it look more polished and neat. Attention to detail and an impeccable image will reflect positively on your appearance and will instantly convey a more dynamic and positive approach to your normal day to day business activities. And the final tip: keep those business cards safe in their holder. Dog eared cards and coffee stains are strictly not allowed.
Professional attire for men
Office wear for business men tends to be less complicated than women’s office wear simply due to the more conservative styles and the minimal changes in fashion which occur in the male business fashion world. The most popular professional dress code for men is the business suit in conservative colours such as black or grey. Needless to say, quality always counts. A crisp white shirt (or any other colour, as long as it is in pure cotton) and a conservative tie will win customers over. Good quality shoes (and dark socks – only wear white socks with your tennis shoes after business hours) will take you anywhere and a well organized briefcase will reflect a serious sense of style and organization. Good grooming is essential for a professional and impeccable look. This goes without saying but men generally tend to dedicate little time to improve and maintain their appearance. Nowadays, such practices are essential if not necessary to make an impact in the business and social environment.
First impressions count more than ever and people tend to judge you by the way you look before they even make their first introductions. Looking sharp and professional is effortless if you plan ahead and dedicate enough time to build a varied and interesting work wardrobe which ultimately reflects your personal taste. It may be the last thing you may need to do to increase your chance of improving your career prospects.
As they say: Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets ~ Baltasar Gracian