As young professionals, every thing we do is noticed on a heightened level:
from the way we react, to the way we dress or how we choose to
address a difficult situation. I prefer a fairly traditional and
classic wardrobe over trends in general but especially in the workplace. I feel that wearing a suit puts you in a different mindset and actually helps both you and others see yourself as a professional, someone who deserves
respect. As a student, I was always one to take the time to get ready
(read: shower and wear something other than sweatpants) for a test. That simple act made me feel more prepared, even if that time could’ve been spent studying.
Right or wrong, professional dress plays a big part in how people view us.
We notice when people take pride in their appearance and we definitely notice when they fail to do so. When people mention someone who dresses well, it is typically followed by a statement similar to ‘oh (insert name here), he/she always looks so nice/professional/classy.’ The assumption is made that they look nice all the time because they dress well in the workplace. This, I think, is particularly important for young professionals.
We all know the assumptions that are made about millenials: they don’t know how/don’t want to work for anything, they’re entitled, not loyal, etc., etc. While this does not pertain to all millenials, it remains prevalent. To combat these notions, most of us try to work hard, show that we care about what we do and generally take pride in our work. So why, then, do we not take the same ‘extra measures’ to be sure that we’re thought of as well dressed professionals? We’re all familiar with the sentiment that it’s always better to be overdressed but we can often trick ourselves into thinking that it’s ok just this once or that no one will notice. Someone will always notice.
So let’s overdress. Always. Let’s leave zero room for assumptions to be made about our work based on how we dress. I am not saying that you should go out and invest in a whole new wardrobe. I am, however, saying that if you have the option and desire to do so, go for it! If you need to thoughtfully replace one piece at a time, that’s good too. Do not continue to wear pieces that you know are inappropriate. If you question it, then others will also. In my humble opinion, it is far better to wear the same (appropriate and professional) pieces more frequently than to wear something that doesn’t meet dress and decorum standards for the sake of variety.
Much like the way we are asked to ‘read the room,’ we need to be able to read the setting we work in and correlate that to how we dress. People often talk about emulating leaders that inspire or challenge them but that shouldn’t stop with management lessons or meeting etiquette. Our respect and admiration should translate to dressing like individuals who are considered to be successful in our place of work.
To be continued…