professional courtesies

Professional Courtesies in the Workplace

Have you ever felt confused about what to wear to work? Your work wardrobe can be your best friend on a busy day. It can help you look confident while making that presentation or closing that big deal. It gives you self-respect and sends a clear message to others that you can be counted on to get the important things done. You’re not a time waster. You’re productive and pleasant to be around.

The bottom line is that we all want to be respected and to show respect to others. By following a few simple do’s and don’ts, you can quickly be demonstrating professional courtesies in the workplace.

Professional Courtesies in the Workplace

Consider Carefully What is or isn’t Age Appropriate

Consider carefully what is or isn’t age appropriate for your work attire. Looking either too old or too young can be detrimental to your professional image. It’s safest to start with a larger dose of clothes in neutral colors in natural fibers with a few extra details like ruffles, bows, buttons, or fringe. Be cautious, however, as too much of a classic look can make you look old and stodgy. Current trends with more color and detail may have a place in your work attire but being dressed in daring, exaggerated styles can make you look too young.  Or, worse yet, you will not be taken seriously. The ratio of modern design elements to classic ones is critical.

Finish Your Outfit for a Polished Look

On the weekend you can throw on a shirt and a pant and go to your kid’s soccer or football game and blend in with the other parents. At work, it’s important to stand out as a professional. “Finishing” an outfit or looking “polished” is key. This means there’s more to do once you’ve picked out your shirt or blouse and pant or skirt. You need to add accessories (not noisy ones), wear shoes that aren’t scuffed, and be sure your nails and hair are groomed. Your work outfit isn’t put together until you’ve attended to these extra details.

Check the Mirror Once or Twice

Check the mirror once or twice before you leave the house in the morning. Is part of your hemline falling down? Are there stains on your jacket? Is your backside coated in dog hair from sitting on Kong’s favorite chair? You don’t need to send clothes to the laundry every time you wear them but checking yourself from every angle before you go out the door is a good idea. Consider installing good lighting in your closet and putting up a full-length mirror.

Wear Makeup for a Polished Look

Wear enough makeup to have a polished look. Having a too much on makes you look like you’re thinking more about what’s happening after five o’clock than during normal work hours. You can make adjustments for after hour get-togethers when work hours are over. Wearing no makeup is not professional either. Is it confusing? It can be hard to be objective on this one. Consider a minimum of powder foundation, concealer, a lip color or light colored gloss, and some eye definition with mascara or some definition to your brows with a brow pencil.

Make Sure You Have Appropriate Coverage

Appropriate coverage is insurance that no one gets the wrong message or a mixed message at work. Commit to clothes that don’t show cleavage, don’t gap between buttons and aren’t too tight. You shouldn’t be tugging or pulling at your clothes to make them more comfortable or more modest. I shared this little tip on Facebook last week.

Raise your hands and touch your toes if anything shows, go change your clothes.

This is a favorite whether I’m assisting clients with their wardrobes at their home or helping them during a shopping session in a fitting room! The sit test and high knee lift exercise are two other favorites of mine that I love to use with my clients.

There are too many things to think about while at work. And, your clothes shouldn’t be one of them.

Avoid Expressing Your Strong Creative Side with Your Wardrobe

Don’t express your strong creative side with your work outfits, unless you work in a creative field. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to look boring! I’m all about expressing your personal and signature style. Again, getting the right mix is most important. A little bit of creativity can go a long way especially in more traditional workplaces that center on finances, business, or education. Indulge your more creative side on the weekends with more color print mixes, fun accessories, bold shoes, and boots if you work in a conservative environment.

Avoid Dressing Too Casual

While some people “get away with” dressing in clothes that might be deemed too casual for the workplace, do you really want to take the chance that you’re looking way too informal? Think about your appearance. Do you look like you’re an asset to your company or leading your company? Looking pulled together and well groomed sends positive messages. You may be ready to add a few pieces to your wardrobe that help you look like a leader.

Avoid Distracting Accessories

Don’t wear accessories that can be distracting to your colleagues, team, and clients. Keep the noisy jewelry at home. Avoid stacking lots of bangles, which can clank against each other during a presentation or on every keystroke you make on your computer. Having fewer but distinctive accessory focal points is a great idea. They can really add to your professional image and allow you to have fun with your style.

Avoid Over Sized and Wrinkled Clothing

Shabby chic works as a furniture style but it’s not a good look in clothing. Oversized, rumpled clothes will take away your credibility. The antidote to this look is well-fitting clothes in fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. Examine the fit of your clothes. Are you in need of a good tailor? A tailor can give you a custom fit that allows you to look and feel fabulous!

Avoid Strong Fragrances

Be sensitive to people who are allergic to fragrances. Allergies are becoming more prevalent. Strong cologne, perfume, or skin creams can throw people into coughing fits or worse. When in doubt – go to work unscented.


Wouldn’t it be nice to completely stop thinking about what to wear to work? It would be great to know you’re looking your best while you’re doing your best, right? Email me at leann@conwayimageconsulting to schedule a phone chat on how I can help you have ease and simplicity in getting ready every day!

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