s Business casual does not mean loungewear and house shoes. Remember the word "business" is still in "business casual."
s While everyone has different taste, and some businesses have their own "dress code," either written or understood, clothes should still be clean and wrinkle-free.
s Hygiene should be at its best. Hair and nails do make an impression. Make sure they are clean. Also, while hairstyles change frequently, try to avoid those that cover the eyes or limit eye contact.
s When in public, your pants should not reveal rear cleavage. In other words, pull up your pants!
s Transparent clothes are not acceptable.
s Jewelry should be noiseless. Jangling, dangling jewelry is very distracting.
s Try to invest in quality clothing so that it can be worn repeatedly. If you are on a tight budget, then give secondhand or resale stores a try. You can usually find good-quality clothing there, and you may just find designer clothes at a fraction of the cost. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to look polished.
s Look for classic clothes that may be worn from year to year. Suits in solid colors such as navy, gray and black with classic white shirts fit in this category.
s Buy good, comfortable shoes that match your wardrobe. Again, the style of shoe is dependent upon the work that you do. For women, however, the most versatile and professional are simple leather pumps. For men, leather shoes are also a good choice (lace-up or loafer). Scuffed, dirty shoes present a bad image, as do socks that are "pilled" or mismatched.
s Avoid wearing clothing with pictures or words (unless it is a company logo allowed by the company).
In addition to the above, Roberts also adds:
s A good rule of thumb is all things in moderation; extremes should be ruled out. When in doubt, don't!
s The odd, the ugly and weird sometimes explode into a full-blown fashion trend that is not necessarily related to good taste. Trendy dress does not always translate into professional dress. When in doubt, always dress in classic style.
s The "grown-up, pulled-together" look is back, and ladies, the "borrowed from the boys look" doesn't have to look manly. You deserve your own white shirt, blazer or sweater. So give his back.
s Bagging and sagging clothing can be juvenile and childish. This type of dress by anyone over the age of 18 should be questioned.
Along with how you dress, nonverbal actions such as your body language can also speak volumes about you before you speak a single word. For instance, some research has shown that what you say and the tone in which you say it accounts for about 20 percent of your actual message.
The rest is based upon nonverbal actions and cues. These include posture, eye contact and gestures. Bad posture or slouching can make you appear tired, disinterested or just downright sick. Lack of eye contact or shifting eyes may make you appear as though you are afraid, have something to hide, or are lying.
In addition, gestures such as hair twirling, pen clicking, biting your nails or overgesticulation can make one appear nervous or lacking confidence. Actions such as constant gum chewing and incessant cell phone use may leave a negative impression and can be career limiting.
Like it or not, fair or not, your clothes and actions can and do send a message of (or lack of) professionalism and credibility. What you choose to wear and how you choose to wear it, may be an interpretation (or misinterpretation) of your talents and skills. There is nothing wrong with having your own style. In fact it is refreshing; however, try to choose clothing that is appropriate, professional and respectful.
Pam Harvit M.S. is a corporate etiquette and protocol consultant. She is employed by Merck and Co. and lives in Charleston. You may e-mail your questions to her at phar...@suddenlink.net.