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In business, you are dressing to have an impact on your bosses and teammates. If your clothes don’t convey the message that you are competent, able, ambitious, self-confident, reliable, and authoritative, nothing you say or do will overcome the negative signals emanating from your apparel. Betty Harragan, Games Your Mother Never Taught You
4. Fear of Criticism: There are 2 ways to deal with criticism—1) Give up the need to be liked by everyone (It is far better to be respected than to be liked); 2) Know the difference between facts and opinions (Just like your mother used to say: “Consider the source.”)
People see with their brains, not their eyes. They see what they want to see and look for behaviors that they expect to see. If you act as if you deserve it, believe it, and can achieve it, then other people will believe it, too.
The way you dress speaks volumes about who you are as a person and as a business communicator. Let's face it, clothes talk. Whenever you enter a room for the first time, it takes only a few seconds for people you've never met to form perceptions about you and your abilities. You don't have to utter a word; people peg you one way if you're dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, slacks and a sports coat, and yet another if you're wearing a bow tie and seersucker suit. Regardless of who you really are, your clothes and body language always speak first.
Some of the perceptions people can form solely from your appearance are:
Your level of sophistication.
Whether these perceptions are real or imagined, they underscore how your appearance instantly influences the opinions of strangers, peers, and superiors. Being well dressed in a corporate setting can influence not just perceptions, but also promotions.
Your corporate culture and the role you play in it should guide your choice of business attire.
More and more businesses are moving to full-time business casual at every level in the organization. Some just have one or two days each week that are casual. And the definition of business casual varies, ranging from jeans to blazers.
Business dress requires you to know your audience. You need to gauge what attire will be right for the audience and the circumstance.
While your attire can be a vehicle for personal expression, you can pay a price for violating the written and unwritten codes of your culture. Always know the price before you pay.
In business, your clothing and grooming should not distract. Rather, they should direct attention to your face and particularly your eyes. When you connect with someone else's eyes, they tend to listen.
Typical formal business attire has an advantage because it can easily direct listeners to your eyes. A light shirt under a closed dark business jacket forms a “V” that opens toward the face. A contrasting tie or scarf can heighten this effect. Wearing some red in the tie or scarf can help draw the eyes of your audience to your own.
In contrast, a flashy belt (buckle) can draw the eye to the waist. Bright buttons, shiny tie tacks, colorful lapel pins, big metal watches, or other conspicuous jewelry can also draw the eye. The same goes for clothing that is tight, shiny, or loud.
Think of it this way: if it clings or wrinkles, it's not really your wardrobe, it's Saran Wrap and you'd better think twice before wearing it to work.
Traditional businesses like law, banking, finance, accounting, high-level corporate, etc., require traditional business attire: a conservative suit in dark colors with classic lines. The message : authoritative, conservative, and competent.
People businesses like teaching, real estate, sales, medicine, social work, etc., call for clothes that both convey expertise but are non-threatening: two piece dressing, good quality, no jacket. The message : trustworthy, approachable, and knowledgeable.
Artistic businesses like advertising, art, fashion, writing, entertainment, decorating, etc., call for or expect a more expressive mode of dress. Three piece dressing, with a tie, scarf, or jewelry being the third piece. The message : creative, unique, and contemporary.
While one company may have a very strict dress code, another company in the same field may be much more relaxed. If you adapt your wardrobe to “fit in” with your company, you'll succeed much faster (in terms of promotions and/or getting staff compliance) than if you simply resign yourself to the notion that everyone is either over- or underdressed, in your opinion, and you'll march to your own drum, regardless of what they do.
Before you buy something to wear to work, ask yourself:
Is it appropriate for the kind of job I have?
Is it a fad or will it hold up as a basic wardrobe foundation?
Does it fit properly?
Will I stand out (in a positive light) if I wear it to work?
Who is your audience? The people who most influence your paycheck: your clients, potential clients, management, colleagues, staff, students, etc. You're dressing to:
1. Be relatable to them.
2. Fit their perceived image of someone in your role.
If you intimidate your clients, embarrass your manager, or have people look you over from head to toe in disbelief, you probably haven't dressed for your audience. You also aren't going to get very far. You need to dress how they'll feel most comfortable doing business with you.
Sometimes when employees hear that business casual is their company's policy on dress, some take the opportunity to really dress down. They quickly trade in the slacks for jeans, and shirts for T-shirts.
The summer months can be a particularly treacherous minefield of work fashion don'ts. It's wise to consider that very few places of business find tank or tube tops, flip-flops or tennis shoes and shorts appropriate business attire.
Too many people come into work as though going on a picnic or to a ballgame, and employers become frustrated by having to correct behavior and don't want to take on the role of fashion police.
1. Aim for a classic and understated look when selecting your casual business wear for the day. Pick clothing that is comfortable yet communicates a professional attitude. Subtle, quality accessories (belts, jewelry and scarves) coordinated with an outfit can show that you pay attention to important details.
2. Combine some of your existing business wardrobe with casual attire; for example, try wearing a button-down shirt with khakis and loafers. Ask yourself, "Am I successfully representing myself and employer?”
3. Clothing should be clean, pressed or wrinkle free, and without holes or frayed areas. Shirts need to be tucked in (certain women's blouses are made to be worn out, however, and this is permitted).
4. Body piercing which can be seen by the client (with the exception of earrings) is not permitted. Tongue rings should not be visible.
5. Hairstyle should project a professional appearance: clean, neatly trimmed, and well-groomed.
6. Pay attention to the fit of your clothing. Slacks should break just above the shoe, sleeves should reach the base of your hand and just show a bit of the cuff if you are wearing a jacket, and shirt collars should button comfortably without pinching or leaving gaps. Also, if you wear a tie, its tip should reach below the bottom of your belt buckle.
8. Shoes matter. Shoes should be polished and leather is generally preferred.
9. Take your day's schedule into account when you are dressing. Do not make assumptions. Keep a spare jacket in the office for unexpected meetings.
10. When in doubt, leave it out. Casual clothing should make you and everyone you work with more comfortable while, at the same time, projecting a professional image.
Semi-Formal A business suit and tie for men and a business suit for women is appropriate. Semi-formal attire is appropriate for any business function where attire was not specified. Men should choose conservative ties, no cartoons or loud patterns. Formal A dark suit and tie for men and a dressy business suit for women is appropriate. Women may also wear dresses or pantsuits. The rule is generally that the more formal the event, the more covered up a woman should dress. Take a wrap or dress jacket if you go strappy or sleeveless. Choose dress fabrics like velvet or silk which you would of course not wear to work. Cocktail Business dress for men is always appropriate. A jacket and tie should be worn for the duration of the function. Women may choose "cocktail" suits, shorter dresses or dressy pants. The mood is generally light-hearted unless the invitation states "formal-cocktail reception" where "formal" refers to dress and "cocktail" refers to the food and beverage service. Black Tie Typically you will receive a formal invitation for these events that will state that black tie apparel is required. A black tuxedo coat, black trousers, white tuxedo shirt, black bow tie and matching cummerbund are expected. Women should wear a formal gown, preferably long. A cocktail dress should be reserved for a cocktail style function. White Tie This style of dress is usually reserved for very formal, typically official or government occasions. Attire consists of a long tailcoat, usually white, but black is acceptable, with matching trousers. Women are expected to wear a very formal, definitely long, gown.
International Etiquette expert Adeodata Czink of Business of Manners agrees that posture is one of the most important elements of how a person looks and feels. She advises her clients to try to "be as tall as you can be." When you stand up tall and relax your shoulders, you will appear more healthy and confident. People will feel this healthy confidence and respond to it, and you will therefore be creating a more positive experience for yourself.
Correct Posture starts with a conscious effort to hold the Posture of the body in a straight line. The spine should be straight all the way up your back and up through the top of your head. The head should be parallel to the sky. It may help to visualize a string coming down from the ceiling that attaches to the top of the back of the head like a puppet, which allows their shoulders and back muscles to relax and hang down from the spine. This visualization is only a technique that may be helpful in discovering a Straight Posture . Keeping the back straight does not mean that to force the back into a straight position; however, it does mean to let the back find its own upright position.
Approach the chair, stand in front of it with back of legs touching chair; lower self to sit in middle of seat; push bottom to back of seat.
Keep feet on floor (preferably both). Don’t slouch.
To stand from a seated position, scoot to middle of seat again; use legs to slowly rise to standing position. Avoid using arms.
When standing (as in conversation), avoid infringing on other person’s personal space. Keep feet no more than shoulder-width apart.
When walking, ensure that toes are pointed straight ahead (not pointed in or out). Touch down with the heel (without stomping), roll through the foot, and push off with the toes. Allow hands to swing gently, in counter-point to legs. Walk purposefully—not too fast or too slowly. Never drag your heels. Do not wear heels (male or female) that clomp or echo. Ladies, never wear heels that you can’t walk in gracefully and, if needed, quickly.