Putting Business Back in Business Casual

We live in a day and age that has forgotten which word comes first in the phrase, “business casual.” Too many professionals lose focus of their lofty career goals in the day-to-day grind. Dream big, but don’t forget that the key to achieving those dreams often lies in the little things you do every day.

One of the biggest impressions you make on leaders and co-workers is how you look. It may sound superficial, but it matters. Sure, the person in ripped jeans may be just as competent and intelligent as the one wearing the sharp suit, but many people may dismiss them simply based on their appearance.

Making quick assessments of people based on how they look is an efficient shortcut that we often use unconsciously. Why is that important? Because first impressions can be lasting ones, and if the first impression you make isn’t a good one, you may lose an opportunity to prove yourself later. It’s simple science. Social psychologists have determined that it takes only thirty seconds for someone meeting you to form initial impressions about your character and abilities, such as:

  1. Educational level
  2. Competence and success
  3. Personality
  4. Level of sophistication
  5. Trustworthiness

Make sure your outer presentation introduces who you really are. Follow these five best practices to enhance your perceived credibility through your appearance:

  1. Be appropriate. Follow established workplace dress codes. Think conservative, not attention-grabbing.
  2. Be consistent. Once you determine your appropriate “uniform,” stick to it and you will be more respected in the workplace by clients, leaders, and co-workers.
  3. Avoid being suggestive. Avoid flaunting your sexuality at work. Doing so risks lessening your perceived professionalism.
  4. Be authentic. You are unique and one of a kind. Stay true to yourself. Don’t believe the fashion world’s message that you aren’t good enough.
  5. Be conscious. Choose what kind of message you want to send and craft a fabulous professional look that delivers.

Remember, you are on stage every day!


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