What Makes an Organization’s Culture – Business Attire?
So the client rejected the proposal? You had a better service offering than the competitor? Still you lost it? Well you might want to look at OverDress Syndrome or PoorDress Syndrome of your company’s employees.
As simple as it sounds, has its own long lasting consequence. What kind of a organizational culture are you building? Casual or Professional?
Many companies struggle with the Business Attires in their organizations because they have people who are in customer facing role and some employees who are not. It would be anyone’s guess, every company has the same set-up. Obviously there will be some people who will not be in customer facing roles. Can this be taken as an excuse to let go a professional corporate culture and not to have Smart Dressing sense in the company?
The Importance of Proper Attire
Making the best possible impression is paramount. First impressions are made within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone. In other words, if you want to be taken seriously, dress appropriately.
OverDress Syndrome – Many organizations cater to government agencies, research labs etc. When a sales professional from organizations selling some stuff walks into such an organization where the government considers eating peanuts as the main course food and tries to match salaries accordingly, you do not expect flashy business suits. But people are very normally dressed. Though they are sharp in their own way! So if the sales guys walk-in all dressed up, in most probability you might just intimidate the person. And your sales impression right from the 1st meet is going to be “Expensive”.
PoorDress Syndrome – So you were visiting a another organization whose vision is to deliver high quality with world’s best technology to customers or may be the best financial asset management services etc and you went dressed shabbily or in a sloppy manner. You just killed your chance of getting your way across the customer’s heart, why? Coz, you didn’t even match the personality of the organization, personally, how will you match the same with your product or service?
So what should you do?
It’s simple, Learn the Customer’s Dress Style
• Looking professional promises you a good first impression. Knowing what’s expected takes a little research, a shopping trip, and a full-length mirror!
• Research the culture of the employer. A more conservative employer, e.g. accounting, finance, law, etc., will require more conservative dress.
• Look at the brochures, web sites, and employees of the organization to guide your dress style. What style of clothes is being worn by the people who work there? What image are they projecting with their clothing?
• Trust your instinct when picking your business attire. If you have to ask the question, “Can I wear this?” the answer should always be “no.”
• Err on the conservative side when in doubt about what to wear.
• Avoid extremes: heels too high, skirts too short, blouses too low cut, ties or patterns too loud.
• Ask experts at a clothing store about the fit of your suit. You don’t want it too loose or too tight.
Cost Vs Quality debate?
You are not expected to be able to afford the same clothing as a corporate CEO. However, everything should be clean, well pressed, and not show wear. Even the nicest khakis after 100 washings may not be your best choice for a reception. Carefully inspect new clothes for tags, and all clothes for dangling threads, etc.
Please someone explain this to me…BUSINESS vs. BUSINESS CASUAL ATTIRE
What is business attire? It is the written or unwritten dress code of an organization. Business attire suggests a formal, conservative dress style. Attention to detail, impeccable grooming, and a well-fitted suit are a must to make a lasting good impression. Business casual is a small step down from the formal business attire, but still business-like, appropriate and presentable in a place of business. Remember that the definition business casual attire should never be interpreted as casual.
Men’s Business Attire
• Choose suits neutral in color – charcoal, navy, gray, black, conservative stripes all work.
• The pant leg should touch the front of the shoe and fall just above the heel in the back.
• Pants can either have cuffs or not.
• The fabric of the suit should be gabardine or wool. Avoid cotton blends as they wrinkle.
• The suit jacket should be buttoned while standing and unbuttoned to sit. Do not button the bottom button of a three or two-piece suit.
The Dress Shirt
• If possible, have your shirt professionally laundered.
• Always wear a long sleeve shirt.
• The shirt’s sleeve should extend beyond the suit jacket sleeves by 1/2 inch.
• Always wear an undershirt, as they give the appearance of a finished look; undershirt should be solid white.
• Wear a conservative tie with subtle patterns or solid colors.
• Tie your tie to fall in the middle of your belt.
Socks, Shoes and Belt
• Wing tips or lace up conservative shoes are the most appropriate. Loafers can be used for business casual.
• Shoe color should match your suit or be of a darker color.
• Shoes should be in good condition and polished.
• Socks should match the color of your suit and cover your calves.
• Belts should be in good condition and match the color of your shoes.
• Men should limit accessories/jewelry to 3 pieces.
• Accessories include watch, ring, handkerchief, lapel pins, cuff links, and tie tacks.
• Avoid bracelets, necklaces, and visible piercings.
• Facial hair should be neatly trimmed (moustache, sideburns).
• Hair should be neat.
• Heavy cologne should be avoided. Soap and deodorant will allow people to remember you- not your scent.
• Nails should be clean and manicured(it’s not gay).
Men – Business Casual Attire
• A sports coat creates a pulled together look in a business casual environment and eliminates the need for a tie. Pair up the sports coat with khakis or dark pants.
• Traditional dress slacks, khakis, Dockers, corduroys, wool flannel and linen slacks are appropriate with or without a blazer. Be sure to press them beforehand.
• Casual button-down oxford shirts are a great alternative to dress shirts, with or without a tie. Choose basic white, chambray or pinstripe.
• Oxfords and loafers in brown or black are a good match for khakis or corduroys.
Women’s Business Attire
• Choose a classic suit avoiding trendy suit styles.
• A skirt suit or pantsuit is considered appropriate attire.
• Skirt hemlines should be knee length or longer. Miniskirts are not appropriate.
• Color does not have to be limited to dark colors.
• Make sure the suit flatters your figure and is a good fit, not too tight or too loose.
• Jacket sleeves should fall 1/2 inch below your wrist.
• Blouses should be updated, but neither low cut nor revealing.
• Do not wear a camisole or see through blouse. (Your company’s product/service should get the attention, not you!)
• Blouse should include sleeves.
Shoes and Hose
• Shoes should be pumps, flats or sling backs, do not wear shoes with open toes.
• Shoe color should be darker than your suit.
• Heels should be 1-2 inches; higher heels should be saved for after hours.
• Hosiery should be worn with a skirt to match your skin tone or suit.
• Jewelry should be kept minimal and conservative.
Make-up and Grooming
• Makeup should be natural looking. People want to remember you, not your eye shadow.
• Nails should be clean and manicured.
• Nail polish and lip color should not be too trendy or bright.
• Hair should be clean, neat in appearance.
• Perfume should be applied very lightly if at all. A good soap and antiperspirant will allow people to remember you not your scent.
Women – Business Casual Attire
• Pantsuits are a wise choice for a business casual event.
• A classic sheath paired with a cardigan or a blazer in the same fabric and color is a good choice.
• Crisp, cotton shirts added to dress pants, khakis, or skirts make a casual outfit.
• Cardigan twin sets are also an easy way to present a more casual look while still looking professional.
• Jewelry, scarves and other accessories will add a polished finish to an outfit. Remember though, “less is more.”
• Shoes should still be well-made and close-toed – no extremes. Flats are appropriate, platform slides are not.
• Hose are not essential for business casual, but recommended for shorter skirts.
• Knee highs or trouser socks are suggested with pants.
ALL – Unacceptable Attire
• Jeans or denim pants, shorts
• Leggings/stretch/stirrup/sweat pants, spandex or other form fitting pants
• Athletic shoes, hiking boots, sandals, slides or flip flops
• Flannel shirts or T-shirts
Checklist for Putting it All Together
Regardless of the occasion, dressing appropriately is one of the easiest ways to impress the potential employer.
Hair: Should be clean and neat.
Shoes: Should be in polished condition. Make sure heels are not worn.
Details: No missing buttons, no lint; and don’t forget to remove external tags and tacking stitches from new clothes.
Hands: Clean fingernails.
Fit: Clothes should be clean, neatly pressed, and fit properly, neither tight nor baggy.
Smell: Perfume or cologne should be used sparingly or not at all. No odors on clothes. Don’t smell like smoke.
Trust your instinct when picking your business attire.
If you have to ask the question, “Can I wear this?” the answer should always be “no.”