Dressing the part for work is a topic I am quite familiar with. I’ve covered the basics for all kinds of work attire (from casual to business casual to professional), shared interview outfits, and even created a list of office style commandments that I believe every working girl should know. But as I started digging a little deeper into the rules for dressing for success, I found a few fun facts that might surprise even the most knowledgeable style experts. What I discovered was that it all comes down to the details. Hard work and a friendly attitude might get you that big promotion, but a few key presentation factors—from your fingernails to the soles of your shoes—will help pave that road to success. Without further ado, here are 10 style tricks that make a good impression in the workplace…
1. Hem your pants.
You should never be able to wear the same pair of dress pants with both flats and heels. Pants that are not tailored correctly can look silly if they are too short or sloppy if they drag on the ground. When wearing heels, the hem of your pants should fall about ½ inch from the ground in the back, according to The Daily Muse. When wearing flats, your pants should cover most of the shoe in the back without actually touching the ground. If your office attire is casual, make sure your jeans are hemmed correctly as well. Skinny jeans should hit at the bottom of the ankle and cigarette pants should hit at the top of your ankle.
2. Check your sleeve length.
Make a note to bring your jackets and blazers with you when you have your pants tailored as well because your sleeve length speaks volumes about your presentation. Sleeves that are too long or too short have the same negative effect as improperly fitting pants. To avoid looking frumpy, make sure the cuff of your sleeve hits just below your wrist when holding your arms at your sides.
3. Buy button-up shirts that fit.
Nothing looks more unprofessional that a button-up shirt that gapes and shows your undergarments. If you have a bigger chest size, buy a button-up shirt that is big enough to stretch all the way across your bust without gaping. If your shirt fits perfectly but it’s still gaping, try using double-stick tape or fashion tape to smooth the seams together.
4. Invest in a good pair of shoes.
Your shoes may not be the first thing your coworkers notice, but if you’re crossing your legs in a meeting or making a presentation, I guarantee that scuffed soles will stand out…and not in a good way. Invest in two or three classic pairs of heels that are comfortable enough to give an entire standing presentation in. Do the same with flats, and make sure you have bandages handy for blisters. When a pair starts to look run down and tattered, don’t wait too long to replace them or treat them to a trip to the cobbler.
5. Belt it.
If you’re wearing a pair of pants with belt loops and a tucked-in shirt, it looks sloppy to go belt-less. According to AOL Jobs, empty belt loops look forgetful and careless. And the reverse is true as well: If you decide to wear a belt with a skirt or dress that comes sans belt loops, make sure the belt won’t awkwardly shift around throughout the day. Safety pins become great makeshift belt loops! (See what I mean here).
6. Don’t pile on accessories.
This tip may be a bit obvious, but it can help you shift your image from frivolous fashionista to polished professional. If your office attire tends to be more buttoned up (banking, real estate, etc.), keep the jewelry and accessories at a minimum. Your earrings, necklace, and rings should be simple. Forgo jangly bracelets for a smart watch. If you work in a creative environment, you have more freedom in the jewelry department—but that doesn’t mean you should go crazy. The focus should be on one main accessory like a statement necklace or a colorful handbag. Keep the rest simple.
7. Maintain your manicure.
When you’re shaking hands with business partners, gesturing during a presentation, or signing important documents, I can guarantee that your nails will get noticed. Make sure they affect your overall appearance positively by keeping them manicured. Now that doesn’t mean you have to go to the nail salon and get them polished weekly—you can keep them natural as long as they look clean and free of torn cuticles. If you’re a nail biter, here’s some incentive to go cold turkey: Not only do bitten nails look unprofessional, the habit also makes you come off as nervous and stressed. In other words, chipped polish, dirty nails and bad habits don’t exactly scream “promotion,” ladies.
8. Dry your hair.
We’ve all been there before: You’re running extremely late and there’s no time to blow dry your hair before rushing out the door. While the decision to be late or do your ‘do comes down to you, consider this fact first… Having wet hair in the workplace leaves you with a messy impression. If you can’t find the time to at least dry your hair in the morning, you may want to consider giving yourself some extra time to get ready. Your boss will take you much more seriously if it looks like you take the time to present a polished version of yourself each day.
9. Don’t overdo the perfume.
Before you walk out the door, refrain from dousing yourself in your favorite eau de cologne. I’m definitely a proponent of smelling fresh and clean, but one spritz should do the job, not three.
10. Brighten up your eyes.
While it’s obvious that a pretty, white smile makes a great first impression, you may be surprised to learn that white eyes have the same effect as well. People are actually attracted to eye whites that are truly white. According to Science Daily, a new study revealed that bloodshot eyes are associated with sadder, unhealthier, and less attractive individuals than people whose eye whites are white. If you’re interviewing for a new job or giving a presentation, squirt a few drops of Visine into your eyes. It will add moisture and constrict blood vessels, reducing the appearance of bloodshot peepers. And for all you ladies who enjoy a post-work happy hour in the middle of the week, this trick will help you look rested and rejuvenated when you’re anything but.
Do you have any tips for dressing for success at work?
I’d love to read your ideas, so leave your two cents in the comments below!
P.S. If you liked this post, you’ll love these…
Tuesday Ten: The Working Girl’s Style Staples
Work It: 9 to 5 Style
Style Guide: The Perfect Interview Outfit
Dress Coding: For the Business Professional