What You’re NOT Wearing to the Office: How it May be Holding You Back
Once upon a time, in an office not so far from you, workers arrived at their desks each day in clothing called “suits.” They wore outfits of matching pants (or skirts) and jackets. It was standard workday uniform, and none of the workers questioned this. They went about their days, accomplishing their tasks, and paid no mind to the regulation office dress….
Then one day, someone uttered the term “Business Casual.” Behold! “We could leave our ties at home?” said one man. “I wouldn’t wear a jacket with my skirt” a woman asked? And workplace attire was never again the same.
In some industries, the suit still remains a core element of professional protocol (think law and high finance), but this has become the exception in offices, rather than the overall rule. Workplaces now run the gamut of so many varieties and levels of “casual,” that a suit seems like a museum artifact to some, especially younger professionals. And as a result, something has been compromised with its disappearance: the message of influence the suit’s jacket represented.
The good news? You don’t have to wear a suit to benefit from the credibility of its jacket. The impact-making component of the suit isn’t the trouser, after all. The “suit of clothes” that was the forerunner of today’s business suit, debuted following the European revolutions of 1848, reflecting the seriousness of the age. To this day, the suit jacket maintains it’s long-standing reputation of importance and credibility. Why not infuse your own professional message with that time-honored reputation?
Imagine yourself and a colleague, equal in talent and competencies: You’re dressed in your favorite jeans and golf shirt; your counterpart is in casual trousers, sweater and a relaxed, but stylish blazer. Which one of you are invited into a meeting to represent your department with your firm’s newest client?
Here are six occasions a jacket can boost your career:
1 You have an important presentation. Say you’re teaching a breakout session at conference. You want your audience to recognize you, as the expert, amongst the sea of business casual attendees. Wear a jacket.
2 You’re being interviewed (job, media, internal committee, etc). It’s not any ordinary day, and you’re on review. Your goal is to come across with confidence and authority. Remember that the suit has meant “serious business” for 400 years. Wear a jacket.
3 You’re meeting a client for the first time. “You never have a second chance to make a first _______.” (You know the drill.) Wear a jacket.
4 You’re a petite woman, and those you’re doing business with are not. Diminutive size can often suggest youth and inexperience. A tailored jacket takes up physical space (think of the structured shoulders). Wear a jacket.
5 You want to amp up your professional brand. You work in a business casual environment, but want to project your discerning judgment and standard for excellence. Lean on the suit’s impeccable signature. Wear a jacket.
Will a jacket guarantee that next promotion? Maybe not. There are some opportunities, though, that you’ll never know you missed due to someone’s impression of your too-relaxed demeanor. Only you know if you can afford the risk.
Patty Buccellato, is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups. Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls! To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit www.RefinedImages.net or contact Patty.
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