Years ago, I worked for a temporary staffing agency. It was Friday morning and the manager of our Boston office got a phone call from a client. Not just any client, but a prestigious, conservative bank client, who simply said, “I’m sending the worker you have here today home.” The manager was shocked. The employee had been there since Monday, and by all accounts, had been doing a wonderful job as their receptionist. The manager said, “Why? What’s happened?” The client said, “Why don’t you come see for yourself.” The manager grabbed her coat and ran out the door. We didn’t see her for the rest of the day.
The manager returned after 5pm to our office, shaking her head. “What happened?” we asked. She said, “I got to the client’s office and there was our employee, sitting at the reception desk of this huge bank. She was dressed in a skin-tight silver mini-dress and 4-inch matching silver pumps. I asked her why she was dressed that way and she told me she had plans to go out that night and wasn’t going to have time to change. So, instead of professional attire, she came dressed for the nightclub. I had to send her home. And, since there was no one else to cover the reception desk for the client – I did it myself.”
Let’s face it, plenty of people make major fashion don’ts when it comes to dressing for work. In the last month alone, I’ve heard several stories that made me think, “Seriously? A voice in your head didn’t say, BAD CHOICE!” Like the woman that wore the flimsy spaghetti strap tank top that was two sizes too small to her interview and then cursed out loud when she found out she was interviewing with a woman instead of a man. She even went on to have a “Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl” moment when one of the straps broke. Or, the woman that wore so much perfume that the interviewer had to ask her to leave because he was allergic and couldn’t stop sneezing. Now, I”m not saying men don’t make mistakes. My all-time favorite is the guy that came to the interview without socks or shoe laces! And yet, for some reason, women seem to get the most flack for making fashion don’ts. I’m guessing it’s because they have so many more clothing options to choose from, it’s just too easy to slip up. (Yep, pun intended)
I reached out to professional attire expert, Jennifer Gregory, from www.WorkChic.com, a site that helps women make smart style choices, to see if there were any other dress-for-success rules women seemed to be overlooking these days. Here’s what she had to say:
“We are forever hopeful that women know and understand that their clothing should be well pressed and not revealing in an interview. However though you may feel your skirt is the appropriate length when standing up the most forgotten rule is remembering where the skirt ends up when you sit down. Before running out the door, take a seat in front of a mirror. Cross your legs and make sure you are not revealing more then intended.
Another overlooked item is your handbag. Take a few minutes the night before to de-clutter and pair down any unnecessary items. You don’t want your perspective employer to get a sneak peek at your chaos and give them any premonition on what your future desk or projects could look like! Remember they are making assumptions based on how you present yourself. Make sure every aspect of your ensemble, from resume to peep toe pumps, gives that lasting impression!”
Great advice. Now, that being said, let me ask all of you…What’s the worst fashion don’t you’ve seen on-the-job? Did you tell the person? Better still, got any tips you’d like to share for making sure your professional attire is sending the right message? Post them below!
The photo for this article is provided by Shutterstock.