From Sweats To Suits

You've earned your academic credentials. Now learn how to dress for professional success.

I do have a thing for ties. They’re in various prints and colors and they’re the most expressive part of my wardrobe.” Ma’at, on the other hand, has a penchant for hats. “I don’t feel fully dressed without one,” he says. Ma’at tops off his look with a Panama hat in the summer and a fur-felt
fedora in colder months.

Your accessories should complement your outfit and give you a polished look. “You want to draw attention to your face at all times,” says Andre. So while your open-toed stilettos, multiple body piercings or tattoos may look striking, they’ll only distract colleagues and give management the impression that you don’t take work-or yourself-seriously. “If your accessories don’t reflect your professional goals, you shouldn’t wear them to the office,” advises Andre.

Invest in high-quality, comfortable shoes in durable materials. Leather is the preferred material for men’s professional footwear. “I’ve found that a thicker, tougher leather will give off the best shine,” says Ma’at, who, like Bell, believes-and rightly so-that a man’s shoes should always be shined. Good-looking shoes are obviously important. However, you should never sacrifice comfort for style. “I do quite a bit of walking, so it’s important that I have comfortable shoes,” says Goodman. “It can get expensive, but I owe it to my feet!”

Similarly, hosiery should always be worn, even in the summer. “You don’t want to expose large areas of skin in the office,” says Andre.

For both men and women, jewelry should be kept simple and to a minimum, i.e., one necklace, one ring on each hand.

For your office’s particular dress code, check your employee handbook or with the human resources director. “Remember that you’re not only representing yourself, but the company [or your business] as well,” says Goodman. If you remain unsure about certain items, heed Andre’s advice: when in doubt, don’t wear it.

#3: Get Groomed for Success
A well-draped scarf and comfortable, stylish shoes can definitely enhance an outfit, but if your face is full of acne or your cuticles are rough, you won’t look totally put together. By far your most important accessories are your skin, hair and nails. Therefore, you should invest time and energy in helping them look their absolute best.

“Care of these areas is essential for a clean, finished look,” says Rhonda Bryan, president of Dare to Dream, a San Leandro, California-based image consulting firm that emphasizes great skin care. In the time it takes you to brush your teeth, you can perform a simple routine that will help you get and maintain a healthy glow. Use a facial cleanser and moisturizer that are right for your skin type, says Bryan. They don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. “Over-the-counter products are fine, or you can even make your own,” she adds. Mayonnaise, for example, is a great moisturizer for both your skin and hair. “Just apply, leave on for about 15 minutes and rinse.” Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and keep your hands away from your face.


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