Category Archives: Business Dress

The Etiquette of Virtual Meetings

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We’re living in a new reality where “business as usual” means gathering remotely in virtual meetings. Companies, large and small, need to maintain clear, concise communication with employees regardless of physical location. As long as “shelter-in-place”, or as we Southerners say “hunker-down” rules continue, business professionals have to adjust to what has become known as the “new abnormal”. Although physical offices will likely always exist, the future of work is flexible and that means being equipped to manage employee interaction with a dispersed workforce. Now, more than ever, is the time to be communicating with your employees frequently, ensuring they are safe, secure, and productive amidst the chaos. It means an explosion of virtual meetings.

What has become of all those meetings we used to attend? They still exist, but we no longer have to leave home or the office to be present. Meetings are coming to us. They are invading our homes and what we have up till now taken for granted was our safe space. Physical communication has become virtual communication. Whether companies are using Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx or some other platform, these new technologies are the norm. As always, we get the technology first along with its accompanying tutorials and instructions for how to use it before we learn the etiquette rules that apply.

What is the etiquette for virtual meetings?

How are we supposed to behave in this new environment? There is an upside and a downside to our ability to hold meetings with anybody, anytime, anyplace. The positive aspect is that we no longer have to factor in travel time to get to meetings. Wherever you are, you are there. The negative aspect is wherever you are, you are there. No escaping, no excuses. Here a few issues that you need to consider when preparing for or attending a virtual meeting.

Be aware of your surroundings

Your home office could be anywhere in your home since you may not have had a dedicated office space before this pandemic. If you are set up in your bedroom, make up your bed and pick up your clothes before you get online. As your mother would say, “Clean up your room.” The same applies if you have an office space all to yourself in the house. Keep it neat at least as far as what your webcam allows others can see.

Dress appropriately.

Having the freedom to dress more comfortably at home does not mean showing up in your pj’s. You are at work; you just happen to be at home. You need to present a professional appearance. And that means head to toe in case you need to move around during the session.

Establish rules for your household while you are attending a virtual meeting.

 If you have the luxury to close off your office, that’s all the better. However, not everyone does. Maintain as much control as you can over your environment. That includes family, friends and pets. Consider posting a notice on your door that says “Do not disturb. Meeting in progress.” Okay, the dog probably can’t read.

Mute your microphone when you are not speaking.

 Unless you live alone, your house may be noisy. Try not to allow your noises to be a distraction to others in the meeting.

Be aware that you are always “on” during these virtual sessions.

Think “Candid Camera” if you can recall that old TV show. People can see your every move and facial expression. Some of those online may be paying more attention to your body language than you think.

As a friend of mine pointed out recently, we may be in danger of being “Zoomed-out”. Could it be time to rethink how much added pressure we are putting on ourselves and others with our virtual meetings?

Contact Lydia to schedule a virtual training session.  All of her presentations are available as live or recorded webinars. Learn how she can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits through tough times. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com

 

 

 

Wearing White After Labor Day–Yes or No

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White after Labor Day

Labor Day was early this year, falling on September 2nd. On that day, no one in Savannah, Georgia, where I live, was talking about the usual holiday celebrations like barbeques and picnics. The topic of the day was Hurricane Dorian. The question of the day was “Are you going to evacuate?” Now that Dorian is history and has passed safely off the coast of Georgia, mercifully sparing those of us in the Coastal Empire, the question of the day has become “Can I wear white after Labor Day?

The simple answer to that query is “Yes, you can.” In spite of what your mother and grandmother told you, it is perfectly acceptable to do so in 2019. Like so many other aspects of modern manners, the rules have changed. There is no need to rush to your closet and put away all things white until Memorial Day.

The old rule was never white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. So where did that directive originate? Who said we couldn’t show up wearing white after Labor Day? The answer seems to be shrouded in mystery.

Before you let those who are adamant about the rule intimidate you, you should learn why “don’t wear white after Labor Day” became one of the fashion commandments in the first place—and why it might no longer make sense to follow the rule. It had to do with the rich and famous or, at least, the wealthy urbanites of the Northeast in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who abandoned their homes in the city and took to the comfort of their summer dwellings. At that time white signified a casual and cooler life. After Labor Day the elites returned to the city and donned their darker  more business-like attire, signifying that summer was over and it was time to get back to work.

A second and more practical reason for wearing white in the summer months is that it is cooler. It has nothing to do with affluence or class. In the era before air conditioning, people would wear white or light-colored clothing to prevent heat stroke. Sounds reasonable to me and still works.

Here are a few incentives, or maybe permissions, for wearing white after Labor Day.

  • White is a great neutral. It gives you countless outfit opportunities since it goes with practically everything.
  • It makes for an easier transition to the fall season if you don’t have to put up all of your summer pieces.
  • White is a classic in the fashion world. Coco Chanel is said to have worn white all year. You might say that it was part of her signature.
  • No one is actually going to judge you or we certainly hope not. Who knows, you might even inspire someone else.

Aren’t we just beyond the whole idea that there are hard and fast rules that you are not allowed to break even when it comes to etiquette and manners? Common sense, good judgment and universal courtesy should be your guide. Plus, September in the South is really hot, and why should white jeans be allowed on August 31 but not allowed on September 1st? We’re smarter than that.

Finally consider this—in the South, the season doesn’t actually change after Labor Day. It simply becomes summer with pumpkins.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Barbeque Etiquette – It’s Time to Revisit the Rules

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It’s  time to brush up on your barbeque etiquette. Memorial Day is upon us, marking the official start of the summer barbeque season. This is the time of the year when the grill is hauled out, cleaned off, the required cooking utensils inventoried, lawn furniture hosed down, and barbeque sauces and rubs added to the grocery list.

If barbeque etiquette sounds like an oxymoron, it isn’t. There are rules for how to conduct yourself whether you are the host or the guest. Just because these events are held outdoors and are casual in nature does not mean that anything goes. Whether it’s a business occasion like the company picnic or a gathering of family and friends, there are required behaviors.

Etiquette Tips for the Host:

  1. Be prepared. Make sure you have enough of everything from charcoal or propane to food and beverages. Don’t forget an ample supply of plastic cups, paper plates, napkins and disposable cutlery. Grandma’s china and crystal are not the best substitutes if you run out of serving items.
  2. Have a rain plan. While rain should be forbidden during outdoor events, it happens. Arrange for tents if the crowd is large or know how you will manage when your guests gather indoors.
  3. Provide all the food and beverage. Unless you are hosting a family reunion or the traditional neighborhood party, don’t ask people to bring the food. If someone insists on bringing a dish; be gracious and accept, but don’t make it a requirement.
  4. Have plenty of bug spray and insect repellent. Your guests should eat, not be eaten. If you live in a “buggy” environment, it’s a good idea to have food domes on hand, not only to keep certain foods warm, but also to keep pests out of your culinary delights.

Etiquette Tips for the Guest:

  1. Keep your grilling advice to yourself. Your host is in charge of the grill. You may have what you consider to be a better way of doing of things, but unless you realize the host is about to set the house on fire, keep your mouth shut. Open it only for conversation and food.
  2. Leave your legendary potato salad at home. Unless you are asked to bring a dish, don’t. It would be an insult to your host who already has a carefully planned menu. It is certainly nice to offer to bring something, but ask first to be sure it is welcome.
  3. Volunteer to help. These events can get hectic so offer your assistance especially when it comes to cleaning up.
  4. Use your napkin to clean off your sticky fingers. Tempting as it may be to lick your fingers, it is simply not good manners even at a picnic. Neither is using your finger nail or toothpick to pluck the corn silk from between your teeth. Be sure to have dental floss on hand, but excuse yourself before you pull it out.

Etiquette Tips Specifically for the Company Barbecue

  1. Maintain your professionalism. While you are there to have fun, be mindful of your actions and your words.
  2. Dress like a professional. Business attire is not expected, but your casual dress should be conservative. Avoid anything that is sloppy, shabby, sexy or revealing.
  3. Hold back when serving yourself. Piling on as much food as your plate will hold makes you look like you only came to eat. You can go back for seconds once everyone has been served.
  4. Play it safe with the drinks. If alcohol is being served, limit your intake. Warm weather, alcoholic beverages and a company barbecue can be a dangerous combination.

Barbecue picnics are a relaxed way for family, friends and co-workers to come together to socialize and build relationships. Enjoy yourself, but be mindful of your manners. Demonstrate your best barbecue etiquette so you will be invited back and, in case of the company picnic, to insure that you will still have a job on the next working day.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Dressing Faux Pas That Can Tarnish Your Professional Image

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It’s the morning rush hour. I’m not talking about the traffic you might encounter after you head out the door. I am referring to the chaos that occurs before you even cross the threshold. Whatever your morning routine, somehow there are things that manage to go awry.

You plan as much as you can the night before. However, if you have children that you need to get off to school, there is breakfast to prepare or at least supervise. Possibly lunches to pack. Then you need to make sure that everyone is dressed in the appropriate school garb. If you have pets, they have to be tended to as well before you leave for the day.

Whew! If that’s not enough, you have to get yourself ready for work. Waiting until the last minute to decide what to wear to work is not the best idea. If you’re savvy, you decide upon your workplace attire the night before. Chances are you won’t have time to ponder it in the morning.

The goal in choosing what you wear to work is to look your best—your professional best. No matter where you work and what is appropriate for that environment, there are certain details that if overlooked can ruin a good impression.

Here are a few things to check before you make your exit.

  1. If you have pets that shed, check your outfit for cat or dog hair. Fur is not considered office appropriate. Keep a roller brush handy.
  2. Do you see wrinkles? Maybe your colleagues or clients will assume they occurred on the way to work, but don’t count on it. Blow the dust off the iron, plug it in and use it.
  3. Take a look in the mirror—always a good thing—and survey the length of your pants. Are they bunched up with the hem dragging the floor? When you buy pants for work, remember that the hem of your pants should hit at the top of your foot, not below. If they don’t meet the test, visit a tailor.
  4. On the subject of pants, glance at the hem again. If the hem is frayed, put that pair in the donations pile and find ones that are in pristine condition.
  5. Count your accessories. A few pieces of jewelry will dress up your outfit, but don’t overdo it. Wearing a dozen bracelets can be distracting to the person you are trying to impress. And while you have ten fingers, they do not all need to be adorned with rings. One per hand is sufficient.
  6. Hair ties are not bracelets. If you have long hair and want to pull it back occasionally, keep a few ties in your desk drawer or in your purse, not on your wrist.
  7. Check the condition of your shoes. Nothing tells people how little attention you pay to detail as shoes that are scuffed or worn. There are people who check out your shoes before noting anything else.
  8. Do your clothes fit? Are you still trying to squeeze yourself into an outfit you “outgrew” months ago? Looking professional means wearing clothes that fit your body, not that of someone you used to be or hope to be again.
  9. Take time to dry your hair. Showing up for work with wet hair says, “I am running late” or “Who cares how my hair looks.”
  10. Hide your bra straps. (I can’t believe I just said that.) More women are showing up at work wearing blouses or dresses with little or no sleeves. While I am not a fan of sleeveless in the workplace; if you go that route, make sure that you aren’t advertising your choice of undergarments to the office.

When dressing for work, the smallest details count if you want to keep your professional image and your reputation intact as well as be respected by both colleagues and clients.

Clean, neat, pressed and fresh trump grungy every time.

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources. If you prefer to talk, call her at 912-604-0080.

 

Summer Office Attire: What to Wear When the Temperature Rises

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Business man pulling tie in front of ventilator at office.

It’s summertime, and while the living is supposed to be easy, deciding on your summer office attire, what to wear to work, is not. Our more casual world makes it difficult to know, on any given day, how to dress for the office; but summer poses even more challenges. Just because the temperature is soaring, you can’t throw the dress codes, if you have any, out the window and wear whatever feels comfy.

Whether it is summer or winter, the number one rule to follow when choosing what to wear to work in client-facing environments is to dress like a professional. People are going to make judgments about you based on your appearance. Your choice of summer office attire speaks to your professionalism and your credibility.

One size does not fit all in business. What you wear depends on four factors:

  1. The industry in which you work
  2. The job you have within the industry
  3. The geographical region in which you live
  4. Finally and most importantly, it’s what your clients expect to see.

Here are some tips about summer office attire for men and women during the hot summer months.

For men:

  1. If your usual attire is a business suit or a sports coat and tie, dressing down means simply leaving off your jacket. A long sleeve shirt and tie will still give you the look of a professional.
  2. A solid white or blue dress shirt offers the most polished look.  Small checks or stripes are fine, but resist the urge to break out your favorite Hawaiian shirt.
  3. Short sleeves rarely look business-like but are acceptable within certain industries and jobs.
  4. Choose a quality trouser for work even if you are not dressed in coat and tie. Jeans do not belong in the workplace unless the workplace is the great outdoors.
  5. Wear socks! Going without socks just because it is hot is oh-so not cool.
  6. Your choice of shoes matters. A casual shoe, such as a loafer, is more appropriate with your dress-down attire. Unless you are a lifeguard, sandals and flip-flops have no place in the workplace.

For Women:

  1. If you usually wear a skirted or pants suit, you may opt to leave off the jacket.
  2. Your choice of a blouse or top needs to be one with sleeves. Short sleeves are acceptable, but never sleeveless. Blouses and sweaters provide color and variety,but they should be appealing rather than revealing.
  3. Dresses are back in fashion again. Although the stores are filled with sleeveless dresses, let me repeat that sleeveless is not for the professional office. There are plenty of dresses out there with short or elbow length sleeves.
  4. Sun dresses are inappropriate in an office environment.
  5. If a dress is sleeveless or simply has shoulder straps, a light jacket or sweater should be worn over it. That can be a jacket with short or three-quarter length sleeves.
  6. Although they are popular, sandals of any kind and flip-flops are not workplace appropriate unless you are a Yoga instructor. In that case, you may even go bare-footed. It is not easy today to find flat or low-heeled shoes that look professional. Select a shoe with a closed toe and a strap around the heel or one with a closed heel and a hint of an open toe–a peep toe.
  7. Skirts, if they are short, should come to your knee. Hot weather is no excuse for those that only reach mid-thigh. A skirt more than two inches above the knee raises eyebrows and questions.

For those who think it’s not what you wear but how you do your job that creates success, give that some more thought. Business skills and experience count, but so does personal appearance. Impress your clients and customers all year round with the choices you make in what to wear to work.

If you arrive home at the end of the day and don’t have to change your clothes, you may have worn the wrong thing to work.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette and modern manners expert who helps individuals and organizations with professional conduct.  Since 1996, her keynote presentations, seminars and breakout sessions have educated and entertained thousands of attendees. She provides individual coaching  for those who want to improve their interpersonal skills..

Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements.

Lydia has suitcase; will travel. Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter or visit her website, lydiaramsey.com

 

 

 

 

Flip-Flops: Are They Appropriate in the Office???

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It’s summer time, and they’re back!  Flip-flops. Maybe they never went away. They simply went into hibernation for the winter.  I suspect you know what I am talking about–those shoes that have nothing to hold them to your foot except a little piece of material across or between your toes. Flip-flops, slides or whatever you choose to call them, are the hottest trend in summer fashion footwear.

If you are wondering when the first shoe of this type appeared, I did a little research and discovered that sandals—which is frankly what we are referring to—came into existence around 2000 B.C. So for those of you who think this shoe is a 21st century creation, think again.  The sandal began as a basic item made to protect the soles of the feet when shoes were not available.  The simple strap between the toes made it easy to wear.  When this shoe resurfaced in modern times, it was still pretty much utilitarian footwear known as a beach shoe or shower shoe.  That’s right, a shower shoe.

So how did the shower shoe become the most popular footwear of the season?  It’s hard to say. One of the morning television news shows recently did a feature story on flip-flops. Several of the reporters were actually touting this as the shoe of choice to wear to work. One of the news anchors, a well-dressed man in a suit and tie, expressed his dismay at the thought of what he called “thongs” showing up at the office. I’m with him.

If you’re looking for shoes to wear to the office this summer and you feel that flip-flops are inappropriate, you may be in for a lengthy search like a business woman friend of mine discovered. She began her hunt for professional footwear online. To her dismay, what popped up on every site when she looked for shoes under “career” or “flats” were flip-flops.

Flip-flops or slides come in every fabric and heel height imaginable.  Once an inexpensive plastic shoe with a flat sole, they are now available in a variety of manmade and natural materials, in low to high heels, in every color and design you can conceive of and with prices ranging from $5 to $500.  (No, that’s not a typo.)

Flip-flops have become versatile, but once again, people are confusing the latest fashion with business attire.  Flip-flops, and their sandal or slide cousins, are not business professional footwear. They are casual to the extreme. It is not simply a matter of appearance—whether these shoes look professional or not—it is also a matter of safety. You can easily trip when you catch your foot on something unexpected. Flip-flops are also a noise nuisance. The sound of shoes slapping around the office can be annoying.

Before you slip into your cool new slides for which you may have paid a small fortune, think about where you work.  Are these shoes suitable for your work environment and type of business?  Do they follow the dress code if there is one?

The owner of a local travel agency came up with a simple rule to help her staff decide if their sandals, slides or flip-flops were appropriate for the office. Her guideline is “If it is designed for or can be worn on the beach, it is not appropriate for the office.”  I think she nailed it.

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness. She is a Savannah-based business expert on business etiquette and professional conduct, a sought-after speaker and established author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. More information on professional conduct is available in her best-selling books Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Invite Lydia to speak at your next conference or meeting.

 

 

A Man’s Suit Coat: To Button or Not to Button

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Elegant businessman buttoning his suit coat.

To button or not to button is the age-old question when it comes to a man’s suit coat. Some men seem to know when to button, when to unbutton and which button to button under which circumstances. Others don’t seem to get it all. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

There is a high profile figure that I have in mind, but like Meryl Streep, I don’t want to name names. This person, who is seen almost daily in public, wears a suit and tie—that’s a good start—but he never has his suit coat buttoned. The example that he sets is not the one to follow. So I am here to set the record straight.

Now I am the first to admit that this is not the most important question you have to ponder, but if you want to show a touch of class and a bit of polish, you should know when to button a man’s suit coat and when to unbutton it.

First, let me give you a bit of history. How did the habit of leaving one button undone even come about? It seems that we have Edward VII to thank for this bit of fashion. That particular monarch was reportedly rather rotund so he found it difficult, if not impossible, to button the bottom button of his jacket or waistcoat. As a result, he got in the habit of leaving the bottom button undone. His subjects, out of respect or fear, followed suit (pardon the pun).

So today here is what we have for rules that govern a man’s suit coat–when it is correct to button or not to button:

  • When wearing a two-button coat, the top button is always buttoned. The bottom one never.
  • When wearing a three-button jacket, the middle button is fastened. The top one is optional and the bottom never.
  • When wearing a single-button coat, the button is always fastened.
  • When wearing a double-breasted jacket, button all those that have button holes.

Those rules for buttoning apply to when a man’s suit coat when he is standing. When seated, buttons are undone. This is for comfort as well as to keep the jacket from “bunching up” or to keep the bottom button from flying off–should the coat be a tad tight.

Simplified—as if it weren’t simple enough:

The traditional buttoning rule for a three button jacket – sometimes, always, never. That’s top button, middle, and bottom. For a two-button jacket – always, never. Or top button and bottom. And for a one-button jacket – always.

You might be tempted to say, “Who cares about the buttons on a man’s coat?”  Well, if you want to be viewed as someone who pays attention to detail, you do. You’d be surprised who notices and what they think about to button or not to button.

For your added amusement, try counting the number of times I have used the word button in this blog. For those who get it right, I will send you a link to my 21 Commandments of Business Etiquette. Simply email me at lydia@lydiaramsey.com with your response and correct email address. Better yet, complete my “Contact Lydia” form to receive your complimentary article.

While you are at it, let me know if you have a particular topic you want me to address or a question you would like answered.

You can find more information on business etiquette and modern manners in my book, Manners That Sell – Adding The PolishThat Builds Profits.

lydia_sm-e1393277822156Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources.

Business Casual Is Still About Business

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Business CasualWhen business organizations instituted “dress-down” or business casual days in the 1990’s, they created a dilemma which lives on today.  Never has there been so much confusion about what to wear to work.

Most companies do not have a clear policy on what is appropriate attire for casual days.  As a result, they watch their employees show up for work in everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.

If your company wants to have a casual dress day, put a written policy in place. Make sure employees are aware of the guidelines you have established.

There are few issues more difficult than trying to explain to employees what’s wrong with their choice of clothing.  If your policy says, “No jeans, tennis shoes or halter tops,” the problem should not arise.

When employees dress inappropriately, don’t ignore the problem. Most people want to do the right thing. It is unfair not to tackle this sticky issue head on. For those who take umbrage with you, perhaps you don’t need them in your employ.

“Business” is the key word in business casual.  Be sure that you and your employees know the difference between business casual and casual. They are not one and the same.

Your business apparel should always be what your clients expect to see. If you have to explain or apologize for what you are wearing, it is not appropriate.  When your client comes to your office and you find yourself saying, “Oh, by the way, today is casual day,” rethink what you wore to work.

If your organization already presents itself in a dress-down mode, you may not want to have a special casual day. That will only open the door to even greater challenges.

What you wear not only tells customers what you think of them; it also says what you think of yourself.

If this is a tough topic for you to address, Lydia would be happy to work with your employees on your behalf!  Call 912-604-0080 today.

Are Flip-Flops Appropriate in the Office?

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Flip-flopsIt’s summer time, and they’re back! Flip-flops. You know—the shoe that we now refer to as the slide. Maybe it never went away. It simply went into hibernation for the winter. If you aren’t sure to what I am referring, it’s the semi-shoe with nothing to hold it to your foot or your foot to it except a little piece of material across or between your toes. In any case, flip-flops or slides are one of the hottest trends in summer fashion footwear.

If you are wondering when the first shoe of this type appeared, I did a little research and discovered that sandals—which is frankly what we are talking about—came into existence around 2000 B.C. So for those of you who think this shoe is a 21st century creation, think again.

It began as a basic item to protect the soles of the feet. A simple strap between the toes made it easy to wear. In recent years this utilitarian footwear has been recognized as a beach shoe or a shower shoe. That’s right, a shower shoe.

So how did the shower shoe become the most popular footwear of the season? One of the morning television news shows recently did a feature story on flip-flops. Several of the reporters were actually touting this as the shoe to wear to work. Fortunately for the business viewers, one of the news anchors, a well-dressed man in a suit and tie, expressed his dismay at the thought of these thongs showing up at the office.

Flip-flops or slides come in every fabric and heel-height imaginable. Once an inexpensive plastic shoe with a flat sole, they are now available in a variety of man made and natural materials, in low to high heels, in every color and design you can conceive of and with prices ranging from $5 to $500. (No, that is not a typo.)

Flip-flops have become versatile, but once again people are confusing the latest fashion with business attire. Flip-flops, and their sandal or slide cousins, are not business professional footwear.

It is not simply a matter of appearance—whether these shoes look professional or not—it is also a matter of safety. Any shoe that has an open toe, strapless heel or both can create peril in the workplace. In addition these semi-shoes are a noise nuisance. Try walking into a meeting late with each slap of your heel announcing your arrival.

Before you slip into your cool new slides for which you may have paid a small fortune, think about where you work. Are these shoes suitable for your work environment? Are they safe? As far as flip-flops are concerned, don’t even consider wearing them to your job unless you are a lifeguard. Not only are they casual to the extreme, but they are also sending the message that you don’t take your professional appearance seriously.

Gwen DeWalt of Four Seasons Travel in Savannah came up with a simple rule to help her staff decide if their sandals, slides or flip-flops were appropriate for the office. Her guideline is “If it is designed for or can be worn on the beach, it is not appropriate for the office.” I think she nailed it.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Summertime: Tattoos, Piercings and Excessive Flesh

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TattoosRising temperatures bring out the unexpected in the office and around the house. Living in the South, I am seeing creatures that I have not seen in months. The most common is the blue-tailed lizard. As one of my cats found out, they are intriguing, but definitely not edible. She survived her encounter by the hardest. Munching on one led her to walk in circles for weeks.

I know how my cat Blueberry felt.  When I walk into offices and places of business and am greeted by tattoos, piercings and flesh, my head begins to spin and I feel a touch of vertigo.

The hotter it gets, the more skin we see. Hemlines go above the acceptable. Necklines plunge to new lows. We see more than should be revealed in a business environment. Bare ankles and bare legs are common for both men and women. Once all the seemingly unnecessary clothing from cooler months is removed,  tattoos and body piercings that were previously out of sight  are now in plain view.

Tattoos and piercings are the rage. Tattoos at one time were the domain of sailors, and piercing was limited to earlobes. It is not uncommon now to have your server describe the catch of the day with an ornament threaded through his tongue or on her lip. There goes my appetite.

Today I can walk into any number of places of business, perhaps the grocery or the drug store, and be greeted by employees who are tattooed from head to toe. What were they thinking? And what were their employers thinking when they hired them?

It is not yet clear whether these practices are passing fancies or the wave of the future. If you want to get ahead in business, reconsider your piercings and especially those tattoos. One thing we do know is that people change over time. Before you do anything that is permanent, consider the long-term effect. Since your tattoo will be with you forever, you may want to put it where it is only visible when you are at the beach.

If you are job-hunting or planning an upward move, keep in mind that the company or corporate culture dictates how you dress and how you accessorize. Personal preference is not the determining factor. If your boss doesn’t have a tattoo or body piercing and no one else in upper management does, that’s your cue that tattoos and piercings will probably get you out the door faster than up the ladder.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.