What Not to Wear to Work

Could your appearance be halting your career growth?  While you may think that you look fine, you could have one bad habit that is making everybody talk.  Most people won’t tell you if there is a problem with your appearance, so it’s up to you to be vigilant.  Take a look at these workplace fashion don’ts and see if you’ve made any of these mistakes:

Being generally unclean.  You can hold out until tomorrow to shower, can’t you?  No.  Nothing will turn people off quicker than a co-worker who is not clean.  This includes showering, washing your hair, using deodorant, cleaning your nails, and brushing your teeth.  If you smoke, then you have to make a special effort to make sure that there is no odour on your clothes or your breath.  If you do nothing else for your appearance, please make sure that you are clean.

Having dirty or scuffed shoes that don’t match your outfit.  Many people believe that you can tell a lot about someone by their shoes.  Making the effort to have nice, clean and polished shoes shows that you take pride in your appearance and that you pay attention to the details.

Wearing clothes that are too tight or revealing.  Be careful as this can make people around you uncomfortable, and it can cause people to discredit you.  If you have any doubts at all, don’t wear it.

Making too much of a statement with your clothing.  While it is important to take pride in your clothing, remember that it is a workplace and not a fashion show.  Choose an outfit that looks nice on you, but don’t let it become a distraction.

Wearing clothes that are wrinkled or stained.  No matter what you think, people will notice the stain, and they will know that you didn’t iron your shirt.  Nobody ever gets away with picking a shirt up off the floor and wearing it to work.  Don’t try it.

Dressing inappropriately for the position.  Pay attention to how your co-workers dress and plan accordingly.  Of course you have your own style, but you also want to dress in a way that is consistent with the organizational culture.  For example, if you work at a gym, you probably wouldn’t show up in a dress.

Having hair that needs to be brushed, cut, or dyed.  Even if you get everything else right, if your hair is unkempt, you will look sloppy.  Keep it trimmed and neat and if you dye your hair, make sure that your roots aren’t showing.  It’s also a good idea to keep a comb or brush in your desk drawer in case you need it. 

Carrying several disorganized bags.  Remember that when you walk into the office, people look at the entire package.  If you walk in carrying six plastic shopping bags, it doesn’t matter that your outfit is coordinated; you will still look frazzled.  Take the time to organize your things and choose a bag that matches your outfit.

Being too casual.  When your clothes are too casual, it appears that you do not take your work seriously.  It may not be true, but the way that others perceive you is important.  Don’t wear sneakers, sandals, hoodies, sweatpants, or anything else that says, “I’m taking it easy today!” 

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they perform well in their job, then their appearance is not important.  Unfortunately, that is not the case; people will always judge you by your appearance.  If you look nice and do a good job, you will be the ideal employee.

(Written by Karen Bivand)

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3 thoughts on “What Not to Wear to Work

  1. Anonymous March 8, 2012 / 3:59 pm

    I total agree with your blog. I have polled my peers and they all say that they make their hiring decision within the first 30 seconds which means as soon as they meet you they have already decided whether you will go on in the hriing process. You frogot to mention tatoos and piercings.

  2. Anonymous May 2, 2012 / 2:06 am

    Yes, tight clothing makes anybody looks like a sausage, sweatpants/pj pants make you look like a walking pillow case, and most robbers wear hoodies (and some dress in executive style). But there are sneakers and sandals suitable to work. Hide your tats and facial wire piercings because most people find them super tacky and useless.

    Good luck everyone,

  3. Anonymous June 5, 2012 / 1:07 am

    People STILL have a problem with tattoos? I think that's ridiculous in 2012. Self-expression is a right, it should be extended beyond the 'accessories' many people have deemed acceptable (such as crucifixes, stars of david, females adorned with earrings). How many times can society work past ignorant taboos only to deem the next taboo the de facto halting point? There are no good arguments for discriminating against people with tattoos or piercings that aren't 100% subjective (much like stereotyping of race, gender and orientation is 100% subjective.)

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