Business attire – or how to dress – tends not to be well-enforced. In most jobs, it’s unlikely your employer will ever send you home to change if you break one of the written or unwritten rules of the corporate dress code. But every day, how you dress in business attire allows you to make a statement about your value to the company through your choice of clothes. Moreover, salary negotiations can happen at any time. So don’t get caught off guard in your old lucky sweatshirt from your college exams on the day the company decides to offer spot bonuses. Here’s a list of ways to say “pay me more” – or at least avoid saying “pay me less” – with your wardrobe.
Would you ask for a raise wearing…
- Loud colors?
- Bold patterns?
- Oversized buttons?
- Tank tops?
- Tee shirts?
- Athletic shorts?
- Athletic sandals?
- Scuffed shoes?
- Shiny or see-through fabrics?
- Tight/revealing clothing?
- Ripped jeans?
- Showy belt buckles?
- Anything dirty, stained, or torn?
- Shirts with offensive words or pictures?
Women, could you keep a straight face asking for a bonus wearing…
- Fishnet stockings?
- Visible lingerie (bra straps, garter belts, etc.)?
- Glitter/club makeup?
Men, how will it affect your total cash compensation if you sport…
- Messy facial hair?
- Baseball cap?
- Bawdy tie?
Would you pay more for a dirty car?
Think of yourself, for the sake of illustration, in terms of a product you sell your company every year. If you want to resell the product at a higher price next year, you’ll do your best to present it in good, clean working order. That includes the following:
- Cleanliness – Practices vary from culture to culture, but in North American business it’s customary to arrive at work having showered and shampooed within the previous 24 hours.
- Groomed nails – Fingernails should be kept clean, short or moderate in length – and out of your mouth.
- Cheerful breath – Food-related bad breath can be managed by keeping a toothbrush at work for those after-lunch meetings. Chronic bad breath is a treatable medical condition; consult your doctor if you think it’s you.
- Understated scent – Light, discreet perfumes and colognes are a form of personal expression and pride; but overpowering scents can distract from your work performance.
It’s fine to carve out your individual style, but remember to keep your image professional. Going too far from your organization’s accepted standards can detract from your more important messages about your work.
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