it’s like you got one patent leather pump on the corporate ladder and a really hot electric blue platform planted firmly on the old grey carpet. what does this business ‘casual’ mean anyway? can i wear my 6 inch heels, they’re louboutin’s you know. can i wear boyfriend jeans but with a blazer and pumps, hot right?! i totally can do silk harem pants right?, they’re totally in right now!
sometimes being in a business casual environ can cause confusion when it comes to appropriate office style. one thing i’ve learned, likely from watching what not to wear, is that you should dress for the environment you’re working in. so business casual may mean different things for someone who works in an small tech company, fashion mag, or downtown corporate office.
i really believe how you dress - for the cube - really impacts on your overall attitude and the message you convey about yourself to your coworkers and management. so if you’re dressed more “casual” that is appropriate the “business” it’s probably like you’re walking around with a big yellow post-it note on your forehead that reads: ”i so don’t give a crap, right now!”
tip: when in doubt, pay attention to those around you and senior management (unless everyone around you dresses terrible, then you have my permission to make your work-style set the bar and shows them how to be professional and stylish).
the way i see it is if you want to be taken seriously, maybe even to climb that corporate ladder, then aim for dressing professionally and avoid looking like you’re always ready for the weekend or trying to get photographed for a hipster street style blog *this last part is debatable, i do find inspiration from those blogs, but you know what i’m sayin’*.
dr. hunt: “hey, don’t you ever answer your texts!”
det. morris: “not when you write in all capitals. It’s like yelling. It’s rude.”
dr. hunt: “its emphatic.”
while watching ‘body of proof’ last week i heard this exchange and reminded me of how many times i’ve encountered the improper use of capital letters and exclamation marks in work emails.
you know that email you get from your supervisor or senior staff that has a sentence or two that ends in a bunch of exclamation marks, or is in all capital letters.
the ultimate offenders are the people who use all caps, double/triple exclamation marks, and yellow highlights to get some point across. OMG!!! THAT’S SO RUDE!!!!!!
- use overuse/abuse exclamation marks, bold font, and capitalization in your emails to make a point
- use capital letters with yellow highlights and/or exclamation marks. It really is just wrong
- engage in email wars - this happens when feel you were being ‘yelled’ at via email and you feel the need to yell back…in email. this usually results in unpleasantness for those involved (also you’ll be leaving a written record of an exchange that may cast you bad light in the eyes of management).
- check a style guide (or google) for rules around when to use capitalization and exclamation marks if you are confused. yes, there are rules
- engage in appropriate use exclamation marks in the cube (read: use only 1 when needing to show emphasis. we will get it. trust me)
- think before you write. if you are upset then step away from the email for a few minutes before you hit the ‘send’ button
- if you really want to get your point across and make sure the person receiving the email got the message, then speak to the person directly, either in person, or by picking up the phone and calling them - speaking directly to a person as a way to communicate effectively, really? huh
- If you are the lucky recipient of the 6 exclamation marks and it bugs the crap out of you, then (a) ignore it and chalk it up to the sender’s ignorance of the the rules of grammar and email etiquette; or (b) speak to the sender directly. It really could simply be “emphatic” and not intended to be rude.
cube-dweller 1: “so , how far along are you?”
cube-dweller 2: “ahhh, i’m not pregnant.” *even longer awkward pause*
you’ve undoubtedly heard this scenario before but have you heard it on flip-side? This is what happened to me recently:
her:”omg, you’re soooo skinny, why are you soooo skinny?! you lost weight. Are you not well?”
me:”nope. haven’t lost any weight. i’m well. thanks.” *annoyed face*
honestly, if someone had issues with their weight, especially if it’s due to illness, do you really think it’s something one wishes to discuss with one’s co-workers?! it’s not. *eye-roll*
keep comments regarding your fellow cube-dweller’s weight to yourself, even if you mean it in a good way! its much safer that way - for everyone.
i recently read kelly cutrone’s, ”if you have to cry go outside”, for the 2nd time. it’s an insightful read for those entering the fashion biz as interns or new employees.
i wanted to share 3 of her top 10 career don’ts (or how not to get a career in fashion) with you as these ones resonnated with me the most and i think can apply to any job, not just in fashion:
1. don’t recreate your family at work
2. don’t think your boss owes you anything but a paycheck; and
3. don’t cry in the office. ever. if you have to cry go outside.
that is some solid career advice right there! i’ve known people who have broken all these rules (and some) and believe me when i say it’s never pretty - it’s really downright painful to watch.
always remember while at work, whether in fashion or whereever your career happens to find you, you’re in a place of ‘business’ and you should not only dress but also act accordingly.
“i’m really sorry that i offended you. i didn’t mean to but…”
but? but what?! any apology that includes the word “but” is a non-apology, an excuse disguised to look like an apology.
“sorry” is all that you should say: don’t let words like “but” get in the way.
apologize in private: if you’re in the office use a boardroom or take the person out for a coffee when making your apology. making an apology can be uncomfortable enough, you don’t need an audience.
did you miss anyone?: if the offending behaviour took place amongst other coworkers, they too may have been affected. think about apologizing to that group as well.
you might be annoying your co-workers when…
you arrive late to the meeting, apologize to everyone in the room, rummage around noisy for a seat, then turn to the person beside you and whisper…loudly, “so, what’d i miss?”
apologizing at that moment may seem polite but drawing attention to your lateness is disruptive.
just take a seat and be quiet.
you might be annoying your co-workers when…
during the meeting you’re constantly on your blackberry/iPhone/tablet:
- you message your bff to confirm after-work drinks – click, click, click
- tweet about the dirty looks you got when you arrived to the meeting a mere 15 minutes late – like who can start a meeting without a half-caff-decaf-mocha-frappuccino, right? – click, click, and then
- you purchase u2 tickets before they’re sold out. click!
So what’s so wrong with that? you’re a multi-tasker!
it’s seriously annoying not to mention rude, that’s what’s wrong with it.
checking emails, texting, or doing other work during meetings is disrespectful to everyone in attendance.
put the gadgets away and pay attention.
i came across the quote “want to be successful? look posh” in the book a vision of loviness by louise levene. it reminded me of advice i was given many years ago when i was first starting in my career: “dress for where you want to be and not where you are now.”
at the time i was temping as a legal assistant and was looking for something permanent so i could move out on my own. this was advice that stuck. i started dressing like someone who was serious about her ‘career’ and wanting to move ahead.
eventually i was given the chance to work in various positions in the company - nothing permanent but it might as well have been. I stayed on as a ‘temp’ for almost 2 years.
Working in various departments meant more opportunities to develop new skills and network. with an excellent reference from that office i moved on to a full-time job elsewhere; a well paying postion that required “business” attire - i wasn’t worried though because i already looked the part!
last year a colleague said to me, “you know when i first met you i thought you were a manager. you look like a manager.” i smiled because who knows?, maybe, some day.
roll-up to work lookin’ like you just rolled outta bed.
make an effort to dress like the superstar go-getter you really are. you’ll be amazed at the impact it can have.