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The Etiquette of How We Communicate - Part 2 of 3 - Dressing For Success

Below is part one of a three part series on The Etiquette Of How We Communicate.  For the forward to this series, please visit this post

Part 1 - The Potential Conundrum of Communication Technologies


The Etiquette of How We Communicate

by Marjorie Brody, CSP, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

Your "Package" Must to Communicate Well, Too!

Dressing for success is hardly a new concept. Most business professionals recognize that the expression, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression" is true. The simple fact is that in and out of the business world, people are judged on their appearance.

The clothing you wear can have an adverse affect on the message you communicate. It doesn't matter how eloquent your verbal and vocal communications are, if your visual element is lacking, your messages does not accomplish its intent.

Women can wear the following as traditional "Business Professional" attire:

  • Suits - (pants or skirts)
  • Silk blouses
  • Scarves that pick up colors from the suits
  • Knee-highs/stockings
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Jewelry than enhances - not detracts from - the outfit
  • Leather briefcase or handbag - stick to basic colors
  • All weather coat
  • Black, brown, or burgundy briefcase or laptop case

Basic "Business Professional" wardrobe options for men are:

  • Suits                 
  • Ties
  • Oxford-cloth shirt
  • Lace-up shoes -- but not sneakers!
  • Leather briefcase or laptop bag

Exactly What Does "Business Casual" Mean?

Instituting dress policies that are business casual without defining what this term means is a problem in many industries. A neat, clean, conservative and well-groomed businesslike appearance applies when a business casual standard is in place.

There are three levels of business casual clothing, that, depending on the client, location and nature of the meeting or event, professionals need to remember - Classic, Smart and Resort.

Classic Casual wardrobe options for women include blazers, skirts, dress pants, trouser socks or knee-highs and closed-toe shoes. Men would also wear jackets over nice dress slacks, and lace-up shoes or loafers.

Smart Casual options for women include sweater sets, slacks, skirts, and always stockings with closed-toe flats or pumps. If company policy allows sandals (not flip-flops), do not wear stockings. For men, Smart Casual means golf shirts, khakis with a belt, and lace-up shoes or loafers.

Resort Casual clothing for women would be sleeveless cotton blouses, sweaters, cotton pants or capris, silk shorts, sandals or flats. Their male counterparts can wear golf shirts, short-sleeve cotton shirts, cotton shorts with a belt, sandals, or loafers. Socks and stockings are not required.

Appropriate business casual attire usually does not include the following "dress down" or "weekend wear" options, although much depends on the company culture:

  • Jeans (of any color)
  • Leggings
  • T-shirts
  • Bare midriffs (low-cut garments, front or back)
  • Any kind of workout clothes, running or gym shoes, sneakers or sandals
  • Hats, caps
  • Ripped or tattered clothing
  • Extremely tight-fitting blouses, short skirts or other suggestive clothing

The image presented internally, or to clients -- whether in their office or yours -- is of utmost importance. If you are in doubt about whether a garment is appropriate, it's probably not.

Mrjorie Brody, CSP, CPAE, CMC, PCC, is an author, sought-after public speaker, and coach to Fortune 1,000 executives. She is a global authority in helping successful business leaders identify and enhance their strategies and skills for career success. Marjorie's commentary on workplace/career issues is regularly featured on TV and radio shows, and in newspapers and magazines. Marjorie has had the privilege of serving diverse clients such as Microsoft, Pfizer, New York Life Insurance Company, Johnson & Johnson, The Institute of Internal Auditors, Society for Human Resource Management, Executive Women International, and GlaxoSmithKline. To contact Marjorie or book her as a speaker, trainer or coach, call 800-726-7936, or visit http://www.marjoriebrody.com/ for more information.





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Comment balloon 2 commentsSara Bonert • December 14 2007 10:55AM


Sara, I'm not one to dress this way for business. San Diego is way more casual than that. But I would certainly want you as an employee or welcome you as a business associate if you followed these dicta.

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Sara, here in Santa Clara County we have a rare split.  In Morgan Hill and Gilroy, if you wear a tie, the locals will see you as an outsider.  In the rest of the county, if you don't wear a tie, you may not be taken seriously.

Bill, is there much difference between San Diego proper and Oceanside?

Posted by Frank Jewett (tech4REpros) over 12 years ago