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Dressing for Work

"Appearance" ranked second in qualities most often associated with professionalism, after “communication skills” in a 2010 national poll conducted by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, showing just how important appearance really is in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there is no universal dress code. What is considered appropriate varies by industry, workplace, and what is happening on a particular day; so choosing attire can be perplexing. These tips may be helpful.

Why it matters: People perceive others by their appearance. You may be a hard worker, but if your attire appears to be haphazardly put together, it may imply such of your work ethic. Looking professional will cause your superiors and co-workers to view you as professional. Dress to impress!

Dressing for the Job: What is appropriate to wear to work varies among industries. Be sure to look the part.  As John Molloy writes in his book, “New Dress for Success,” the colors and patterns worn at work matter. For example, scarves, bright colors and patterns may be appropriate for someone who works as a photographer at a fashion magazine because it is a “creative” role; however a CFO might reflect a lack of professionalism or seriousness if they sported the same attire. Consider the industry and your role in the organization before raiding your closet for work, and remember—it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

Thinking outside the Closet: When it comes to dressing for work, it’s not just the clothes that matter. Employees also need to pay attention to makeup, skin, and hair—it’s a package deal! You want to look clean and put together. Instead of letting your hair air-dry, add some gel and mousse to give it a smooth look. It is suggested that women wear light makeup to add color and make features pop, but they be careful not to go overboard. Men should keep facial hair trimmed and tidy to look presentable. Both sexes should accessorize minimally, as too much jewelry can appear gaudy. When accessorizing, use the mantra “less is more.”

Be Prepared: It may not be necessary to wear a suit to work every day, but there may be times when you will have a run in with your boss, or have to convene for an impromptu meeting. Be prepared for these occasions by keeping a blazer and dress shoes at your desk to instantly dress up a simple outfit. This will show professionalism and determination.

Dress for the position you want, Not the one you have: No matter where you are in the office food chain, your appearance matters. While executives may be expected to dress more formal than the employees who report to them, employees who are looking to advance into a higher role should dress for the higher role, as it gives the promoting manager the chance to envision them in that position.

“Own It” on Casual Friday:  Dressing casual on Friday doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed, in your Nirvana t-shirt and ripped jeans. Lisa Quast, author of “Your Career, Your Way,” says pairing jeans with a nice button-down (men) or a blouse (women) is a good approach. She suggests wearing dark demin, rather than light, and opting for a slim trouser cut rather than baggy. Quast also suggests adding a third layer—such as a blazer or a cardigan—to complete the ensemble. This formula adds a more sophisticated look to casual Friday, without compromising comfort.

Building a better work wardrobe can increase your credibility and promotability in the company, so leave the ripped jeans and tee-shirts behind, and start dressing for success!

Amanda Hopkins is a former Casino Careers, LLC team member with expertise in career commuications and marketing. Amanda possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and was Editor-in-Chief of The Voice at Bloomsburg University in PA.