“Dress professionally. You only get one chance to make a first impression and you want to look professional.”
– Holly Sweat
When you first meet a person, they will – either consciously or unconsciously – quickly form their own assessment of you – primarily based on the way you are dressed, the way you act, and the words that you say.
Because so much of this is due to the way you dress, it is very important that you dress professionally – especially during formal events such as job interviews, weddings, and funerals.
#1 Do Your Research
If necessary, inquire about the dress code for the event that you will be attending.
Normally, this is not necessary because you will know what to generally wear to different types of events, but there are times when the dress code may be slightly different than you would expect.
For example, many corporations have their own internal dress code that might vary by industry or even company. If you are having a job interview, knowing and following this dress code will show your potential employer that you are detail oriented and self-driven – the type of employee companies want.
Researching the proper dress code is one important way to show your professionalism.
#2 When In Doubt… Overdress
When you are unsure how to dress err on the side of formality.
If you come wearing a suit and tie only to find most people wearing just a dress shirt and slacks, you can easily remove your suit and tie.
If, however, you come in a casual outfit and most people are wearing a suit, you will look out of place.
Dressing too casually will tell those around you that you are a careless and inobservant person.
#3 Avoid Wearing Rumpled Clothing
Never wear clothes that are wrinkled or dirty.
Not only will keeping your clothes crisp and clean make you look more professional, but it will also show respect to those around you.
For instance, when attending a funeral, wearing clean and neat attire will display your high opinion of the deceased and your deference to the living. If, on the other hand, you come in dirty and crumpled clothing, you will unintentionally show disrespect for your dead friend.
Before an event, make sure that your garments are clean and ready for wear.
#4 Have Backups Ready
A missing garment, an unexpectedly iron burn, an unnoticed tear. What happens when the unexpected occurs?
Even the best-laid plans are subject to surprise, so you should be ready with a alternative plan.
If possible, try to have backup clothes you can wear if something goes wrong with your original suit of clothing.
Although your alternative garments might not look as formal, they will come in handy during an emergency.
#5 Keep Your Hair Nice
On the day of the event, it is important to remember to keep your hair looking neat.
This is not a very difficult step to complete (you should be doing it anyway), but it is very important.
Because your hair is a “frame” for your face, messy hair will not only damage your professionalism but will also distract from what you are trying to say.
If you are giving a presentation or a speech, this is especially important because the distraction of your unkempt hair will make it much more difficult for you to keep your audience’s attention.
Even if you are simply engaging in a casual, one-on-one conversation, rumpled hair – while not as problematic – will still be a disruption to whatever you are attempting to communicate.
Take the time to quickly comb your hair – it is well worth the small investment.
#6 Maintain Good Posture
Keeping good posture is crucial to being professional.
Even if you are wearing the most appropriate clothing possible, you will communicate a sloppy attitude if you allow yourself to slouch around.
On the other hand, standing and sitting straight will communicate an air of professionalism and discipline.
Although it can be a difficult habit to cultivate, maintaining good posture is crucial to success.
Just outwardly following the six tips outlined above will not make you professional. Instead, these dress tips are symptoms of a professional attitude.
Following these tips will help you cultivate a good mind-set and communicate it to others, but you must remember that professionalism is a result of strong character and cannot be attained through insincere allegiance to a particular dress code.
How do you improve your professionalism?