I get paid to notice things – sometimes even little things. Often, it’s the little things that make a big difference. They can make or break the business meeting, the networking event, the presentation, the new client relationship, or determine whether or not you’re the one who leads the team or gets the promotion.
The following three corporate employees caught my eye recently because of their use of accessories. Little things, right? What do you think?
• The manager who made a presentation while wearing large, dangling earrings that swayed when she walked. She hypnotized the audience!
• The supervisor who wore a bold striped shirt with suspenders, a plaid lanyard for his name tag, and a pocket protector on his shirt with numerous pens showing.
• The social media manager who had both her sunglasses and her reading glasses resting on top of her head, a scrunchie holding her hair back, and a pen resting on her ear.
I believe that the above examples illustrate the potential downside to accessories. They can become distractions. You don’t want your accessory use to detract from your professional image and from what you are saying. Here are 10 suggestions about using accessories:
1. If one is good, ten is not better. Do not let accessories overpower you or your outfit – like the bank manager who wore a ring on every finger. Use accessories selectively.
2. Choose good-quality pieces. Accessories need to complement your clothing. Make sure your briefcases, handbags, backpacks, ties and scarves are clean and in good condition. Don’t be like the employee who arrived at a meeting with a very old and worn briefcase. He was embarrassed when he opened his briefcase and the strap fell off.
3. Be aware that an accessory can become your trademark. If you wear a particular accessory often, you may be labeled. One man wore a different set of cufflinks every day. His colleagues started referring to him as “Link.”
4. Make sure your accessories are silent additions. Your jewelry should not make noise. If you wear a number of bracelets, for instance, they can bump audibly against each other when you move your arms.
5. Don’t play with an accessory. This becomes a distraction to others. Don’t kept turning your ring or playing with a necktie.
6. Be careful with the design of your phone cover. Keep it professional. Using a cover featuring colorful polka dots or other fanciful designs can take away from your image.
7. Take your name tag off when making a presentation. Though not a fashion piece, the name tag becomes a distracting accessory when you are making a presentation.
8. Choose your glasses carefully. Brightly colored frames or unusual shapes stand out, and not necessarily in a good way. According to fashion designer Vera Wang, glasses are “the most incredible accessory. The shape of a frame … can change your whole appearance.” Make sure it’s a change you intended.
9. No baseball caps at work. They are very casual hats. You are at work, not a baseball game.
10. Pay attention to your watch. When I ask the participants in my etiquette classes to name the one accessory that they notice most on both men and women, “the watch” is the most common answer. Cell phones have replaced watches for some people, but many business people still wear the timepieces because they like this accessory. If you wear a watch, choose a good-quality item. This article on Askmen.com provides some useful information about watches.
Additional “little things” can be found in my book, When The Little Things Count…And They Always Count: 601 Essential Things That Everyone in Business Needs to Know.