At first glance, you might think this blog post is just about women’s attire but it’s about you, too, guys. “What? I’m a guy! I only have a few options. How can you possibly advise me?” Read on.
Ladies first: What does professional attire really mean anyway? Here’s my definition of professional attire for women: Very little or no cleavage on top with a jacket or cardigan, if needed. Nothing sleeveless. We don’t want to see your pits or your deodorant marks. Pants that are not too tight on the bottom or a skirt, also not too tight, at the knee or no more than one inch above the knee. Wow! That sure is conservative! Yes, yes it is. Here’s why: do you want to be judged for your body or your business acumen? Do you want the men in the room hoping that you’ll bend over to pick up a pen off of the floor and do you want them hoping you’ll bring them an awesome marketing strategy? Do you want the women in the room looking at you with disdain because of their own insecurities and also thinking that they will never set an appointment with someone who shows “that much leg?”
Also, make sure everything fits properly. When you gain or lose weight, your clothes tend to be the first thing to show that. Be mindful of how things fit. Clothes that are too big actually make you look heavier and clothes that are too small make you look like a vienna sausage. Be mindful of fit especially when it comes to pants: the camel toe is a NO NO! Aside from how bad it looks, there is no way it can be comfortable. Quick note about shoes: make sure the heels don’t look like you just walked through a parking lot of jagged rocks. Polish them, when necessary. No hooker shoes allowed.
Get the judgement off the table before it starts. If you really want everyone to see your great legs (and your hooker shoes), save it for Saturday night.
I encourage you to be known for your business savvy not your ill-fitting business suit.
Okay guys, your turn: You’re right, you do have fewer options than us gals but be careful with the options you do have. Here’s my standard for guys: clean, crisp shirt, preferably with long sleeves and clean, pressed pants. Some professions require a tie and you should know who you are. Make sure the tie isn’t dated, too short, or too long. Some professions require a suit and you should know who you are as well. If the last time you purchased a suit was 1994, I strongly suggest an update. Here’s a note for the guys regarding pants: again, check the fit! My rule is this: if I looked at a picture of you from only the waist down and I can identify your gender, your pants do not fit properly. Also, make sure your pants are the proper length. In a business setting, pedal pushers for men are not acceptable. A huge pet peeve of mine is the short sleeve dress shirt with a tie. I realize its hot outside but that is not okay. It isn’t the 60s and you don’t work for NASA. Scrap the short-sleeved dress shirts. Also, wear a belt and shine your shoes; people will notice.
The bottom line is this: as human beings, we judge each other on a regular basis. “Oh, not me, Melissa, I don’t judge people.” You’re lying. Everyone judges at one time or another, we are just wired that way. Don’t let your clothing stand in the way of your business. If you’re not sure how things fit and/or if they are appropriate, ask a friend or family member (one you know will be honest with you).
Strive to be the person who is talked about for his pleasant and positive attitude or the one who is remembered for her fabulous presentation. Don’t be the person remembered for the ill-fitting suit or the plunging neckline.