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Dressing for Success

Though we have often been told to never judge a book by its cover, we still do. It is only human nature. From an employerís perspective, appearance counts big time, whether it is an interview, a meeting with a client or an office presentation. It is always important to look the part to if you want to make a good impression. That's not to say you can forget about preparing for a presentation, put on a nice suit, and youíll win them over. All the ingredients -- knowledge, preparation, and appearance -- are equally important.

Office wear isnít always about suits and ties. Several offices these days have casual dress codes but one must be aware of the line that separates casual work wear from plain ole sloppy. Here are some simple dos and doníts regarding casual office attire:

  • Clothes should always be neat and clean All seams must be finished. Torn, dirty, wrinkled or frayed clothing is unacceptable as is clothing that has words, terms, or pictures that may be offensive to other employees.

  • Colors: For women all pastel shades and medium tones -- like mustard, turquoise blue, deep pink and olive -- are acceptable. Only try striking colors like reds and black if you are comfortable. For men, black, navy blue, dark grey, khaki and white are always safe options.

  • Casual shirts, golf shirts, dress shirts, sweaters, tops, blouses, and turtlenecks are acceptable. Most suit jackets or sport jackets are also acceptable. Simple well-fitted jeans have recently become very common at the workplace.

  • Unkempt footwear can ruin an otherwise polished look. Shoes must be in good condition. Boots, flats, clogs, sneakers, and heels are acceptable. Flashy athletic shoes, flip-flops, and slippers do not suit a professional environment.

  • Inappropriate attire includes sweatpants, exercise pants, shorts, Bermuda shorts, overalls, mini skirts, leggings, and spandex clothing. Keep away from tank tops, sweatshirts, midriff tops, halter-tops, tops with bare shoulders.

  • Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business. Hats are not appropriate in the office. Head covers that are required for religious purposes or to honor cultural tradition are usually allowed.

  • Finishing touches Try not to carry your entire world with you in an oversized bag. Invest in medium-sized leather handbags in black, brown and beige to get to the boardroom. Keep jewelry simple and coordinated in design--a chain with a pendant, matching earrings and a bracelet. Nails should be clean and neat and of reasonable length. Your hair should be neatly styled. For women: makeup should be subtle. Wear a subtle perfume or cologne that suits your personality.

If you are unsure about acceptable causal attire for work, please ask your supervisor or your Human Resources staff

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