The Right Clothes For The Work Place
September 20th, 2007
It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business. - GERTRUDE STEIN
I’m a self-made man, but I think if I had to go it over again, I’d call in someone else. - ROLAND YOUNG, Actor
It’s always better to be looked over than overlooked. - MAE WEST
Fourteen voice-mail messages after lunch. Thirty-two-mails to return. A PowerPoint presentation coming up in there weeks. There are enough pressures in the office these days without having to worry about what you wear every day. If you can maximize your wardrobe’s potential and learn the principles of smart dressing, you will remove (or at least reduce) a potential headache the night before an important meeting or lunch and can ease your mind so that you walk in fully prepared.
WORK EMERGENCY KIT: DESK
We all grew up with “be prepared” as a mail mantra. In adolescence we carried our “prepared” in our wallets and nowadays the less exciting jumper cables in the car. Being prepared is also good at work, especially since you never want to be unprepared for fate. So if you get a chance to shine be sure your shoes do, too. Always keep the following quick saves in your desk drawer.
- Clean white shirt pressed and wrapped from the cleaners
- A solid or tonal dark tie
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A comb
- Disposable quick wipe shoe buffer
- Spare set of shoelaces
- Spare set of collar stays
- Sewing kit from a hotel or travel kit
- Nail clippers
- Eye drops
- Disposable razor and small travel shave foam
THE TIMES ARE CHANGING ARE YOU?
In the mid-90s, as the economy grew exponentially, many established companies embraced the notion of casual Fridays and some firms even abolished dress codes codes altogether. When you’re making that much money, who really cares what your employees are wearing to work?
But as the economy started to turn, it was no longer acceptable to be so laid-black about one’s appearance. And when people began to lose their jobs, looking serious about work became a priority again. Consequently, people are showing up early, working late, and finding safety behind a jacket and tie. Or didn’t you get that memo?
WHO GOT THE MEMO? LOOK AROUND
Has the office dress code changed in the last few months? Have you even noticed? Look around. Has your boss stopped wearing khakis to work? Has a bohemian colleague shaved and cut his shorter? Are you the only one wearing jeans?
Chances are, your colleagues have been dressing up again for work, and if you haven’t been, now is the time to dress smarter.
Now that you’ve been on the job for a while, it may be time to evaluate your career and your wardrobe: Are they giving you want? Or need?
ASSESS: ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?
Is your career going the way you thought it would? Are you doing the kinds of things that challenge you and make you happy? Have you stopped setting your alarm in the morning? If things are going well, where do you want to be five or ten years from now and will it take to get there?
Now look at you want to be, what is holding you back? Did you set unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself? Are you too hard on yourself? Too easy? Have friends been passing you by? Getting promotions? Taking on greater responsibilities? Is money as important as you thought it was? Is it more important than you care to admit? Is your wardrobe too junior now that you are more senior?
DEJUNK: WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
If you’re not where you want to be, what is holding you back? Did you set unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself? Are you too hard on yourself? Too easy? Have friends been passing you by? Getting promotions? Taking on greater responsibilities? Is money as important as you thought it was? Is it more important than you care to admit? Is your wardrobe too junior now that you are more senior?
RENEW: COMMIT TO THE GOALS YOU’VE MADE
Once you’ve determined what’s holding you back, it’s time to figure out what you want to accomplish next and how to get there. Find a mentor: Someone who can counsel you about your career and shoot straight without departments in your company or other companies altogether.
Now take a look at your closet. Do you look like the people you admire professionally? Are they dressing with a certain authority that you respond to? Perhaps it’s time to look into another clothing investment to take your career to the next level.
BUILDING A CAREER WARDROBE
The reality is, a man could wear the same suit there times a week and on one would notice. A blue suit, if pressed or steamed properly, would look new every day if you paired it with the right shirts and ties, and occasionally threw in a sweater or two. By mixing up what you wear a striped shirt one day, then blue, then white, then a bold color you can stretch your limited wardrobe by buying suits of higher quality and being creative with the combinations. Although you may lack in quantity, you can now buy a finer suit that will last longer and follow you up the corporate ladder.
DON’T TAKE FRIDAYS OFF
Even if your office believes in casual Fridays, it doesn’t mean you have to. There’s no actual rule that says you have to look casual. And if you’re looking for a promotion or a raise, why risk looking laid-back on the one day that your boss may take notice of you? Think of yourself like a team looking to make the play-offs-you can’t let down in the stretch. So go the extra step to look your best when you want to move up. You never know who’s paying attention.