Image in the Workplace Do’s and Don’ts

Next week I have the privilege of being featured on Job Club Radio on the topic of Image in the Workplace.

Tune in Monday, April 19th at 11am PST | 12pm MST | 1pm CST | 2pm EST as we discuss image in the workplace.  The blog below is a sample of what we’ll be discussing next week!

By Sarah Ward
and Judith Rasband

image-in-the-workplaceWe cannot NOT communicate.

“Long before we are close enough to speak, we announce ourselves. We project or reflect important information about ourselves. By the time we meet and vocally converse, we have already communicated volumes in an older and more universal language” (Allison Laurie, Language of Clothes).

Since the language of dress, grooming, and body language is far more persuasive than any spoken language, taking thought to our image and appearance in the workplace is critical to our success.

Here are three easy tips that can be incorporated today that will help you send positive messages in the workplace.

  1. Wear clothing with a good fit and adequate ease. Don’t forget to pinch an inch! Trying to fit into smaller clothes makes us appear larger than we are. Adequate ease in clothing prevents the appearance of a tummy or bra bumps.
  2. Wear a collared shirt. A collar lifts attention and frames your face, communicating authority. The straight-point collar works like the V-neckline, communicating stability, strength and action. Compare this to collarless tops which bring more attention on the body and cause the wearer to appear more casual and less capable.
  3. When meeting with an important client or giving a presentation, wear a jacket, sweater or vest. This third layer garment helps lead attention up to your face and increase body image boundaries for more visual authority. You will get attention faster, hold it longer and remain more memorable. You can always remove a jacket to dress down and appear more approachable, but if you don’t have a jacket you can’t dress up and appear more reliable and credible.
Distracted, aren't you?
Distracted, aren't you?

There are some things that are more appropriate for the weekend rather than the office on Monday morning. Three things to avoid in the workplace include:

  1. Cleavage. It’s just plain distracting! The more skin that women show in the workplace, the more of their visual authority they give away.
  2. Graphic tees. Graphic tees are going to draw attention away from the face, where we communicate.
  3. Wrinkled clothes. This lack of attention to detail in personal dress can send negative subliminal messages to your clients about an overall lack of attention to detail.

A good rule of thumb is this: if anything about your image and appearance is distracting, save it for after hours.

Copyright Sarah Ward & Judith Rasband 2010

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