04 Aug 2011
- Written by Carlee McCullough
An overall business image consists of your attire, hair, grooming, posture, demeanor, communication/etiquette skills, and the business expertise. The first thing, however, that a potential client/customer is exposed to is the appearance. So this week we put the focus on the professional look.
In a perfect world the caliber of your work should speak for itself. However, in business, the first impression is always a lasting impression. If the initial visual contact is not up to par, that potential new customer or client may remain elusive. While the art of a deal can get the adrenaline flowing, a stylish professional look contributes to the confidence needed to close a deal.
At the same time as the Internet has created the atmosphere where in-person contact is less prevalent, the meaningfulness of a person-to-person contact has increased dramatically. Thus the importance of a well-groomed professional and the businesses that contribute to that maintenance effort are underscored.
As a nation, in general, we have become more casual in many things, including our appearance. However, those looking to advance rapidly have maintained the more formal approach to a professional look even though business casual has taken on a life of its own. While professional dress code standards vary from place to place, a well-groomed professional is truly universal and gives one the impression that you are more than prepared to handle the business.
Dressed to kill
Your appearance from head to toe gives an indication of whether you can handle the job. A professional look includes, but is not limited to, a combination of clothes, accessories and hair. While you may not wear a suit to work, a clean polished look regardless of the field can be accomplished. A crisp blue, gray or charcoal “well tailored” suit and white shirt can go a long way toward establishing that professional look whether you are a male or female.
However, for men required to wear suits on a daily basis, the darker the suit the better and the fit is important. When purchasing a suit, be sure to have it properly sized. Similarly for ladies, the fit is just as important. To be taken seriously, the skirt length should not be so short that it draws attention to the hemline as opposed to the business product. For men, dark polished shoes are the preference. For ladies, pumps are the most acceptable.
While business casual is growing in prominence and acceptance, some do not know the appropriateness of the attire. T-shirts, jeans and shorts are rarely acceptable unless expressly stated by a firm. The look is simply too casual. When dressing down, men should wear slacks with a button down or polo style shirt. For women, spandex and sheer attire is a no go, always. However, a flat loafer and sweater sets are always fashionable on casual days.
Hair, nails and body art
Head and facial hair should always be neatly groomed. Men must trim moustaches, beards and nasal hair. Ladies with facial hair must remove it altogether. If you have body art of tattoos and piercings, those should be covered in a professional setting.
Makeup and fragrance
A day-business look is different from the evening-party look. A more natural look is better for the office while a more colorful flamboyant appearance is better reserved for the night time events. While we may want to smell fresh, it is imperative that we not overpower others with our favorite fragrance. If people can smell you from more than three feet away, then you have entirely too much on and can affect those with allergies.