Tag Archives: professional dress

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

 

 

 

 

Do Conference Casual And Professionalism Mix?

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As fall approaches, conferences and conventions loom large on our calendars. While some organizations use the summer months to take advantage of lower rates, most corporations recognize that their employees use this time to vacation with family and friends. Once the gong sounds on the Tuesday after Labor Day to mark the end of summer, it is back to business as usual.

The conference brochures and meeting notices start arriving, and you wonder what to pack.  Under “What to Wear,” you read, “The official dress for the conference is business casual. Wear what you are comfortable in.”  What in the world does that mean?  Those words provide no guidance at all.

Your attire speaks volumes about you.  When you are attending a professional conference, keep in mind that you are working, and this is all about business and professionalism.  This is not the time to throw caution to the winds and show up in your favorite jeans and that t-shirt you bought at the convention three years ago.  It’s fine to take your comfy sweats and old shorts, but save them for the workout room.

Think of the image you want to project, and make sure it reflects professionalism. While the true definition of business casual is to dress down one notch from business professional, you might relax the rule slightly for your meeting event, but only slightly.

While traveling to the conference, consider that you will be meeting people and making connections—of the business kind.  Make sure that everyone you encounter before, during and after the conference, forms a positive impression of you. Professional conduct and appearance are the keys to adding the polish that builds profits.

And if you are in need of a speaker at your next conference or convention—one who can address professional conduct–please contact me. I’d be delighted to join you.

Here’s to conduct professional!

professional speaker

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.

Interview Etiquette for the New Graduate

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It’s May—typically graduation month. Are you one of those who will be donning a cap and gown and walking across the stage to receive your hard-earned diploma or do you know someone who is?  Given that the next step after graduating is finding a job, I have some business interview etiquette tips for the new grad facing those challenging job interviews.

Current job seekers have lots of competition. There are literally hundreds of people vying for the same position. While most people think that their education, their skills and expertise will land them the job, studies show that is not necessarily so.  Those factors are important, but another that is often overlooked is proper interview etiquette.

The idea might seem outdated, but adhering to certain standards still plays a significant role in business.  Over and over we hear that what sets most interviewees apart from their competition are their personal skills.  A knowledge of interview etiquette and good manners are the keys to standing out from the crowd.

People do business with people they like and interviewers hire candidates they like, If you or that new graduate you know want to be the candidate of choice, I have some suggestions.

Start by arriving on time. That means showing up 5 to 10 minutes prior to your appointment. If you arrive earlier than that, wait out of sight. Arriving too early can be an intrusion.  To make sure you are on time, find the location ahead of time. Make sure you know where you are going, how to get there and how long it will take.  The interviewer does not want to hear you apologize because you got stuck in traffic or worse yet, got lost.

Leave your cell phone in the car. I realize that for some people the thought of being separated from their cell phone for even a minute is terrifying.  Trust me, you can do it. It is the only way to insure that your phone will not ring during the interview.  I know. You think you will simply turn it off, but how many times has a phone rung when it was supposed to be turned off or on silent ringer?  We all know the horror stories and the interview is no time to be the main character in yet another cell phone tale.

Practice your business handshake.  That would be the good firm one that impresses the interviewer.  If you aren’t sure that yours is impressive, try it out on family and friends. Keep in mind that when you shake hands, you want to make contact web-to-web with the other person’s hand, step in, smile, make eye contact, call the person by name, give two quick pumps, let go and step back.

Dress professionally and appropriately.  A simple rule to follow is to dress up a notch or two from what you normally wear, assuming that your usual attire is not blue jeans and a tee shirt.  Take the time to research the dress code for the organization where you have the interview and again, dress up one notch.  Pay attention to your grooming, and always, always, always make sure your shoes are in mint condition.

Say “thank you” three times.  Thank the interviewer in person at the conclusion of your meeting; follow up by email; and then send a handwritten note. Interviewers get hundreds of email on a daily basis, but they rarely receive a personal note.  You will definitely stand out from the crowd when you take the time to write your thank you.

Following the basic rules of business etiquette can make the difference in whether you get the job or not. Keep in mind that good manners are noticed more by their absence.

My book, Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits, covers all you need to know about business etiquette.  It’s the perfect gift for anyone setting out on the job search trail. Perhaps you would like to give one to yourself.

professional speaker

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.

Business Etiquette Resolutions

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January Business Etiquette ResolutionsIt is obvious that the holiday season is finally over. The lines at the mall and the super market are shorter. You can even find a parking space at the mall. The decorations are all down, and most everyone has come off that holiday sugar high. As for those New Year’s resolutions you made on January 1st, have they vanished as well?

Some people take the opportunity of a new year to make changes  in their lives.  Others think it is a waste of time because they rarely manage to keep them. Yet another group of people makes resolutions, but by mid-April can’t remember what they were. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to come up with the list of the top habits that people vow to make or break.  Here are just five:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Exercise more
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Drink less
  5. Spend more time with family and friends

While it is not always easy to keep our pledges to ourselves, it is never a bad idea to work on issues that could improve our health, our happiness and our productivity.  In addition to recommending those resolutions that will affect your personal life, I would like to suggest some that will improve your professional life as well.

Do you want to grow your business this year, attract more customers, keep your current ones and increase your bottom line?

If you answered “yes” to any of those, here are my top ten business etiquette recommendations for you:

  1. Be on time for meetings, presentations, workshops and networking events. People who habitually arrive late  send a clear message that their time is more important than everyone else’s.  They develop a poor reputation, and they miss out on information and opportunity. Keep in mind that if you are not five minutes early, you’re late.
  2. Pay more attention to your professional attire. Resolve to dress like the polished business person you are.  People do judge you by your appearance. Your 9-5 wardrobe should be different from your after five clothing.
  3. Send more handwritten notes.  Take a few extra minutes when someone does something nice for you and write a thank you note.  You can send an email message of appreciation, but follow it with the written one. You’ll stand out from the crowd of your competitors.
  4. Be more tolerant of people from other cultures.  Our business world is shrinking, and we find ourselves connecting with people from all over the globe.  Take time to read up on international etiquette so you can understand and appreciate cultural differences.
  5. Call people by name. Using names in conversation makes others feel valued and acknowledged. However, make sure you are addressing them correctly. Don’t assume that “William” wants to be called “Bill” or that your new business client wants to be addressed by first name. Wait until Ms. Brown asks you to call her Mary. Until she does, use her title and last name.
  6. Resolve to use the phone more often. We live in a world of email. Some people think that it is the only way to communicate. Email is intended to transmit information quickly and efficiently. It does not build relationships.  Make sure you take the time to talk to your customers, particularly about complicated or sensitive issues.
  7. Be dependable.  Say what you will do and do what you said.  Your credibility will go right down the tube if you promise but don’t deliver. The same goes for deadlines. If you promise to have the project done by Monday, do it. If you find there are obstacles to meeting that deadline, alert the other person.
  8. Use your cell phone with courtesy and respect for others. By now everyone should know to turn that phone off in meetings or at least put it on silent ringer and never take a call during a meeting. Even those people who consider themselves to be polite because they leave the meeting to take the call are clearly sending a message that they have other more important business than the meeting.  Continually coming and going is insulting to the meeting leader, workshop presenter and other attendees.
  9. Pay attention to your cubicle etiquette.  Not everyone has an office with a door these days so keep your voice down, turn off the ringer on your phone while you are away and don’t eat noisy or smelly foods at your desk.
  10. Take time to be nice.  Everyone is stressed and overworked, but we shouldn’t be so busy that we can’t take time to be kinder to others.  I have heard too many people say lately, “I don’t have time to be nice.” If you don’t have time to practice good manners and follow the rules of business etiquette in the workplace, you soon may find yourself without customers, clients and colleagues. In today’s economy it pays to be nice more than ever.

So finish that yogurt, pick up your copy of Manners that Sell, get on the treadmill, read, walk  and envision the profits that will come from adding polish.

professional speaker

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.

Professional Dress: What to Wear to Work

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Dorothy was right in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

As a loyal reader of my blog, you know that I left in January for three weeks in India. My first trip-and there will be more-was incredible. It is an amazing country filled with kind, courteous and warm people in addition to a wealth of history and tradition. I am eagerly looking forward to my return to Bangalore in just a few weeks. Meanwhile I am enjoying the familiarity of home and close contact with family and friends.

As soon as I returned home, I was off to do a keynote presentation for an organization on the other side of my home state, Georgia. The organization that engaged me for their annual in-service training day had approximately 130 staff members in attendance. Under the umbrella of “Excellence in Etiquette,” I addressed the key issues of business manners: powerful first impressions, greetings and introductions, telephone courtesy, e-mail etiquette, getting along with co-workers, handling difficult people and professional dress. The latter hit some hot buttons.

Appropriate attire for the workplace has become a challenging topic for all concerned-employers and employees. Since the introduction of business casual, very few people seem to be clear on what to wear to work.

This brief newsletter will not allow me to cover all the issues about professional dress. If you want more information fast, I refer you to chapter four of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profit. You can download the electronic version of the entire book in minutes. If you can stand to wait, I am writing a book on “Dressing for Work” and will let you know as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, here are a few points to consider no matter which side of the aisle you are on when it comes to choosing your business wardrobe.

  • Business attire is not about the latest fashion.
  • Business attire has nothing to do with personal comfort.
  • The primary considerations for business attire are:
  • The industry in which you work.
  • The job you have.
  • The climate in which you live.
  • What your client expects to see.

You may need to reconsider your choice of workplace wardrobe if:

  • You have to defend or apologize for what you are wearing.
  • You have to ask yourself as you stare into your closet, “Should I wear this to work?”
  • You don’t have to change your clothes when you get home from work.
  • This is a thorny subject for many people. Ultimately it is a personal choice of sorts. The choice is whether you want to be seen as professional or questionable.