What you wear says a lot about who you are. I work with many companies to help them create enforceable dress codes. Companies want their employees to dress appropriately and professionally. Clothing is an important contributing factor to your non-verbal communication-- it lets everyone know you are capable and confident. At work, your executive presence is your armor-- don't let it crack.

"Dress for your Day" is the new corporate mantra. I hear from many organizations that they try to empower employees to express their personal brand rather than feel constricted by a formal dress code. No matter what type of day you're expecting to have at work, these are the top wardrobe concerns I hear from Human Resources Departments across the country, and how to fix them.

Stop dressing too sexy.

Employers want you to avoid a distracting wardrobe. Just because you got a great tan this summer, does not mean you can suddenly wear ultra mini-skirts to work or leave an extra button undone on your dress shirt. Ditto on anything backless, sheer or revealing. The 90's are back and I love a fun crop top on the weekends-- however, please don't pair one with paperbag trousers and call it a work "outfit-of-the-day" (#ootd).

Avoid showing bra straps, "skin belts" (when your midriff is showing between the crop of your shirt and your pants), excessive cleavage or foundation garments in general. Even in the most causal of offices, men and women should stay clear of these fashion faux pas. It doesn't come across as sexy at work-- it's just ill-fitting.

Fit is key when dressing for your body type or physique. The more you understand the nuances of your shape, the easier it is to avoid unintentional distractions by dressing too sexy in the workplace. When in doubt, change it out. You will never regret having an extra blazer, cardigan, or shawl at the office to dress up an outfit for that last minute unexpected meeting.

Stop dressing like you're on vacation.

Nothing indicates you'd prefer to be out of the office like chipped nails, uncovered sunburns, or unkempt hair. An effective grooming, skin care and makeup strategy is essential to rounding out a 'dress for your day' toolkit. These finishing touches allow others to see you for your experience and value to the organization, rather than focusing on minor distractions.

Take pride in your appearance and don't let sloppiness get in the way of your professional image. I am often asked to speak to employees about personal scent choices-- including the extremes of offensive body odor or over application of the latest fragrance. Men and women may have different grooming routines but guidelines remain the same for everyone-- we should appreciate, not be overwhelmed by your presence.

Solutions for quick touch-ups can be found in your local pharmacy or grocery store. If flip-flops are part of your office culture, make sure your nail care is on point and not distracting. If you have a shaved head and are peeling from a sunburn, moisturize during your lunch break. Get to know the hair care aisle-- smooth your fizz or put your hair back.

Care about your clothing.

Stained, torn or overly wrinkled clothing creates a negative impression of your personal professional standards at the office. Perhaps you're a jetsetter, traveling across the country to represent your company. However, what you may think comes across as chic and disheveled after limited sleep, really just looks like someone who lives out of a suitcase.

Invest in iron-free shirts and shop for fabrics that perform well under pressure to avoid a rumpled, tired look. Innovative 'smart' designs created to provide affordable solutions for the executive on the go are available at department stores, boutiques, and online. Both men and women have more options than ever to shop for stylish office-appropriate clothing that is functional, fun, and representative of your professionalism on the job. 

Also, don't be afraid to keep a kit at your desk (or in your carry on) with a small travel steamer, stain stick, and perhaps an extra tie. Be intentional about your style choices at the office and you can easily avoid dressing too sexy, too sloppy or seeming like a tropical drink belongs in your hand.

Published on: Aug 28, 2019
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