Dress For Success

dress for success

Starting this year, Illinois State University initiated a classroom dress code for students in marketing classes. Students taking marketing classes will no longer be able to roll out of bed, throw on whatever they feel like, and head off to class. Business casual is the new rule. According to the school, the policy is to promote professional conduct and prepare students for life after college.

As of this writing, some students are fighting it. They claim it violates their rights according to the school constitution, so this rule may not last.

Without getting into whether the dress code is legal or not, I think students should be aware their personal appearance affects more than just their grade. Attractive students may not get more attention and higher evaluations from their teachers, but the way in which they present themselves could affect their ability to get a job and/or better pay. Studies have shown the more attractive you are, the more preference you are shown, and the more money you make.

One of the ways to get a raise and/or make more money is to present yourself as attractively and professionally as possible. How many times have you noticed coworkers wearing questionable attire? I have seen my share.

In job interviews, personal packaging is critical. Sometimes a job may come down to two qualified candidates. A good professional appearance can help give an applicant the edge over the competition.

Though we are not all gifted with good looks, we can make an effort to look our best to take advantage of this bias:

  • Wear clean, wrinkle-free clothes. Your clothes do not have to be designer or new, but if your clothes look old and worn, so will you.
  • Dress for the occasion. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing. There is a big difference between going to a board meeting and a company cookout. In addition, you may want to play it safe and overdress a little. The attention you draw will be more positive compared to being under-dressed.
  • Be extremely clean. Good personal hygiene is necessary for a good impression.
    Smell nice. While perfumes and colognes can help, go easy. A little goes a long way. Better yet, do not use any, but make sure you are odor free.
  • Use some “bling” Nice jewelry and other accessories can be positive eye catchers.
  • Bone up on fashion. If you are unsure of what is acceptable in the latest fashions, check out books and magazines for fashion ideas. Moreover, always make sure you follow the appropriate dress code for your workplace.
  • Make note of what people notice. If someone compliments you, make note of it so you know what is working for you and what is not.

Bias towards more attractive people may not be fair, but it is a reality. Your personal packaging is another asset you need to use to the best of your ability to get the most out of your career and your life.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

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6 Responses to Dress For Success

  1. Patrick says:

    I think this is a great idea. I have heard of a few other programs requiring a similar approach. Personally, I think it should apply to anyone in a B-school, marketing, or other similar course where students are being prepared for interaction with clients. I have seen quite a few people who do not know how to dress or act in front of others. It is unprofessional and reflects badly on themselves and their company.

    By the way, I think you should stress *some* bling. One or two fashionable pieces of jewelry is plenty in most environments. More than that and it could become a distraction. (of course this varies in each environment).

    Great article.

  2. baselle says:

    I think this is also a great thing to remember. If nothing else, you are being interviewed by people who have appearance pet peeves. Now officially they are not going to tell you that you weren’t hired because you wore that pet peeve of theirs, but they will look extra hard to find something that they can ding you on.

    Remember to take it easy on the “what’s acceptable in fashion”. Right now flip-flops are “acceptable” and they drive me right up the wall. And I’ve sat on an interview panel or two.

  3. Ann says:

    I’d have to argue for the sake of arguing, and to make a point: In today’s business world, appearance is becoming less of a, how can I put it?, thing. People don’t see people any more, and fashion has become a thing of the teenager world.

    Of course, I am a professional in my field, work from home, and work online on the side, and I am highly sensitive to the connection between appearance and dress and someone’s seriousness. The above is just a point to ponder.

  4. Duane Gran says:

    It is popular to say that appearances don’t matter, but I believe we all appreciate if someone treats our presence as being worthy of dressing for the occasion. I’ve interviewed many people who fall into three sartorial categories:

    1) Those who flagrantly won’t wear decent clothes to the interview
    2) Those who will do it in the interview only and obviously look like they left the house wearing dad’s shoes.
    3) Those who dress appropriately as a rule of thumb. Believe me, you can tell.

    In the end I’ll hire the person who offers the most value, but one portion of the value equation is whether I think the person can represent my company. All things being equal, the person with talent and professionalism has an edge.

  5. Pingback: Casual Dress: When It Makes Sense for the Workplace - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  6. I agree on the need for job candidates to be mindful of the impression they present via their clothing choices – but it doesn’t stop with the job interview. Unless they’re Silicon Valley programmers or part of the entertainment biz, career-minded individuals who aim to climb the corporate ladder definitely need to leave those torn jeans, concert tees and flip-flops in the closet.

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