There are offices, and then there are offices. Whatever line of work you choose, if an office is part of the equation, so too is interacting with co-workers. In a frightening downward spiral, the way most of us dress to go to work is unprofessional. A company’s image is reflected in its employees – their first impressions and their professionalism. At the office we are a community to which we all contribute. What we wear has enormous impact on how we are perceived. This same perception is true for clients and customers. Look your best and dress up a notch and see how much better you feel about yourself and your job.

For formal business occasions, men and women should wear dark suits. For men, shoes should be black and polished. One’s shoes should always match one’s belt. Wear a white shirt and properly tied neck tie. A pocket square picking up a color from the tie is a nice accent for a man. For women, matching shoes and handbag work nicely. A brooch or necklace adds to the professional look.

Informal business relaxes the dress code. Men should still wear a jacket and tie, or perhaps an open collar on Fridays. Women might wear a skirt or slacks and a blouse. The idea is not to become unprofessional, but to be less formal. Traditionally certain colors, such as browns, would be worn only in the country, but today those guidelines have been greatly relaxed.

Resist showing too much skin or cleavage unless you work for the Jerry Springer show. It looks cheap and unprofessional and broadcasts a poor company image. Wear clothes that are clean and that fit properly. Keep your hair and nails well groomed. Look in the mirror to check hair, teeth and general appearance.

Remember that when a company hires us, we represent that company both in the office and out. Be sure to be clear on what is expected of you sartorially and strive to exceed those expectations.

People will notice!

This is part of an ongoing series on etiquette in the workplace. Read previous posts here.