Even in today’s business casual environment, I still get numerous questions from bosses, employees and even journalists about what’s appropriate to wear to work.
Recently a reporter asked about mistakes people make when dressing for work. I thought about what I have seen in business and the recent stories from my seminar participants, and created the following list of the Top Ten Business Clothing Faux Pas:
1. Wearing clothes that are too big. You look like a little kid in your big brother’s or sister’s clothing! Your clothing needs to fit. Wearing oversized clothing often happens when people lose weight and don’t adjust their wardrobes.
2. Showing cleavage. Sexy is not a corporate look. Low-cut tops that expose cleavage draw attention to this body part and are not appropriate in the office. I often coach women on this topic as many bosses are uncomfortable discussing it with their employees.
3. Wearing a bikini when at a pool with business associates. Whether you are going on an award cruise or attending the company picnic, it’s not the time to expose everything! This applies to both men and women.
4. Wearing skirts that are too short. A short skirt draws attention to your legs. Is that where you want people to look? Plus, you can get labeled: A woman named Susan wore very short skirts and her coworkers referred to her as “Suzy Short Skirt.”
5. Having short socks. Short socks or socks that fall down expose skin and hairy legs on men when they sit and/or cross their legs.
6. Drawing attention to your clothing because of your color choices. Do you want to be remembered for what you said or what you wore? A man in one of my seminars wore bright green pants and wanted my opinion. I said his slacks were not typical corporate clothing and as a result, he would probably be referred to as “the man in green pants.”
7. Wearing T-shirts, shirts or ties with inappropriate sayings, pictures or childish designs. A candidate wore a shirt with small teddy bears to an interview. He didn’t get the job; the interviewers just kept talking about his shirt.
8. Ignoring your shoes. People notice shoes. Your shoes should be clean, polished and in good condition. No scruff marks or wore-down heels.
9. Dressing inappropriately for business social events. The company holiday party, conferences or dinner at the boss’s house are still business events and your clothing choices matter.
10. Ignoring your grooming. Clothes need to be clean and pressed. Do not have chipped nail polish or nose hairs that need to be clipped. They become distractions.