Walsh College

Daily Red Carpet Style

How does the Red Carpet relate to Business?

As I was watching the Red Carpet arrivals at the Oscars, it triggered inspiration for this blog!  Best and worst dressed lists.  Comments swirling around the Internet how lovely someone looked.  Or the ever famous comment, "What were they thinking?!"  In business we can have similar thoughts, but we typically keep them to ourselves.

What is the first thing you think about Mark Zuckerberg's attire?  Jeans and a hoodie.

Oprah Winfrey's style?  Polished and professional.

Most business professionals don't have stylists available or personally receive negative verbal comments from co-workers.  The bottom line is that what you wear does matter and everyone has a perception of how you dress.  Generally people have similar comments about a person's particular look.

People's Perceptions

To give you an idea I surveyed some of my co-workers.  They all work in different departments.  Some I work with closely and others I only see on occasion.  I asked that they give three top things that come to mind when they think of my business attire.  Here are their comments:

  • Duc Abrahamson:  "Fun, stylish, trendy"
  • Patty Demasek:  "Put together, age appropriate, fashionable"
  • Jason Sweet:  "Fashionable, correct fit, work appopriate"
  • Rose Zook:  "Classy, edgy, colorful"

All of the adjectives listed are very similar.  Essentially your appearance has a profound impact on how others view you.  How can you project the best image?  Continue reading...

The Basics

1.  Daily work outfit

Pay attention to your organization.  What do people typically wear?  What is management wearing?  Do you eventually want to move up in the organization?  How do you want your style to reflect yoour personal brand?  These are all questions you should answer and take into consideration with your business wardrobe.

I've heard so many times:  Your attire can make or break your career.  Yes, it's unforunate but we all know everyone makes instant judgments before anyone says a word!  Stepping up your dress can help with getting noticed for the right reasons and help support your work ethic.

I'm pretty known on campus for my accessories and clothing with small details.  A boring blazer can be kicked up a notch with a brooch or scarf.  Things which tend to represent my attention to detail on work projects.  Here are some basics I'd suggest to have on hand:

  • 2 suits in a neutral color
  • Black, navy, and taupe dress pants
  • Black and brown belts
  • 2 pairs of dress shoes
  • 1-2 blazers
  • 1 white dress shirt
  • 3-5 collared solid/patterned shirts or blouses
  • 2 sweaters
  • Men: 3-5 ties
  • Ladies: black pencil skirt, 1-2 daytime dresses, 2-3 scarves, 1-2 leather handbags

    2.  Casual Friday

    This varies greatly for organizations. Some companies consider "Casual Friday" as more informal business professional attire, like a sweater and dress slacks. Others consider it as wearing jeans, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes.

    My casual Friday looks usually consist of sweaters, dark wash jeans, and leather shoes. I try to opt for things that are a step up from tennis shoes and sweatshirts.

    Note: If you do wear jeans and tennis shoes to work, make sure they're appropriate. No holes or rips in the pants and shoes that are in good shape.

    3.  Evening Work Event

    Range of dress codes
    This can be the toughest category. I've been to a variety of evening work functions, which have had a range of dress codes: Casual business, business professional, trendy nightlife, semi-formal, and formal wear. Be very cautious what you pick for these events. You still want a professional appearance since the attendee list will likely include co-workers, bosses, donors, community leaders, connections in your network, and potential future employers. I've been to events where some are wearing inappropriate outfits or didn't pay attention to the dress code listed on the invitation.

    The 11th hour invite
    I've been in situations where I get asked to an event at the last minute, possibly the same day. For weeknight events held that day, this makes it a little challenging if you live more than 30 minutes from work. I'd recommend keeping a blazer and basic toiletries at the office. Worst-case scenario is that if you're a little more casual one day, just toss the jacket on, freshen up a little, and go.

    As for short notice invitations to semi-formal and formal events, I've run into problems with not having a fancy enough dress. You're then stuck buying something you wouldn't normally or it's too expensive. I've learned the hard way. Stock up your wardrobe now. When I see a dress or shoes I like, I buy it then and know that it will be used in the future. Over the last few years, I've purchased many of my semi-formal dresses for well under $50! Basic black always works because you can switch out the accessories to make it fresh.

    This is the same dress, but totally different looks!

    Guys, this goes for you too! Keep a blazer handy. Always have at least one really good crisp white collared dress shirt that you keep for special events and a few different fancier ties.

    Stay tuned for my next blog where I'll discuss the best ways to find these outfits.

    Continue to read "Daily Read Carpet: Part II"

    What would you recommend is appropriate attire?

    What do you want your work style to portray?

    3 Comment(s) so far | Skip to comment form

    shavon walton on March 26, 2014 at 01:07 pm

    Great tips and checklists. Thanks for sharing. I agree that attire makes a difference.

    Valerie Debler on March 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Excellent blog post Jessica! I think I am going to begin a budget to spruce up my work attire. You have given me some inspiration!

    Joe Russo on March 30, 2014 at 01:08 pm

    Very good advice. If I can add, to a point that you touched on relative to advancement, it's important to dress for the job that you want, not necessarily just the role that you may currently hold. Over the past few years I've accumulated a few dozen nice ties, 7 or 8 nice suits, more dress shoes than any man should own, and many dozens of dress shirts and pants...multiple collar and cuff styles. And as for solid white dress shirts, I have 5 or 6, again, multiple collar and cuff styles. Your presentation speaks volumes, be sure it sends the message that you want to send.

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