Tag: How To Dress

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Blah Blah – I am a sucker for business dress etiquette. You know this by now. Which should make it no surprise I had to share this Buzzfeed Article on suit hacks that will instantly step up your suit game. Enjoy!

Til Next Time,

Michael

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As many of you know, I’m a sucker for fashion and business dress.  Hence, when I stumbled upon one of my favorite new boutique startup clothiers’ quick note on when to button (or unbutton) suits, I just had to share.  Fortunately, I think I generally abide by these rules, although I may unbutton suit jackets a bit too often (mostly to get some airflow).  Either way – it’s always nice to get a reminder to “look the part”!

Suits: To Button Or Not To Button

Til Next Time,

Michael

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I know I have mentioned it before (and will likely mention it again until your ears are numb), but the clothes you wear are highly important.  Whether you realize it or not (or are reluctant to admit it), people will judge you based upon your appearance, and what you wear says a lot about your outward appearance (i.e. well-dressed people have greater command over a room of people before they even say a word).  It’s a fact of life in Corporate America.  No escaping it.  Whether or not you choose to care about it is obviously your prerogative – but I wanted to pass along a great article posted yesterday on Buzzfeed that references tips and rules for wearing men’s suits.  A lot of these are great things to keep in mind while shopping or dressing and won’t cost you any extra money.

P.S. Is Buzzfeed slowly making its case to be the preeminent work productivity killer?  I wonder how many collective hours a day of “work time” across America alone are lost to reading through the site.  Don’t tell me your Facebook feeds aren’t full of these lists on a daily basis.  You know, when you check Facebook after working hours of course :)

Til Next Time,

Michael

I polled my friends last week asking for a topic to blog about to kill some spare time over the holidays, and one of my close colleagues actually had a great idea for a piece on how to differentiate yourself in the workplace (whether you are fresh out of school entering your first job or perhaps heading to a new company or project).

If you think about it, people stand out in the workplace for many reasons.  There are physical attributes that may catch the eye as well as personality traits, work behaviors, collaboration profiles, among others.  At the end of the day, though, it is tremendously important to have self-awareness of these areas of uniqueness among us, as each of them generally pushes our needle in one way or the other among our colleagues: either more in their favor, or further away from them.

So what’s the right way to ensure you differentiate yourself as quickly and effectively as possible, without rocking the boat too much or creating a closet full of skeletons or enemies?  Well, I will be honest with you and say that I have nowhere near all the answers (or at least necessarily the right ones), but I’ll put down a few behaviors that I think may at least drive useful discussion or provide opportunities for self-reflection on the issue.

Good Behaviors for Differentiation in the Workplace:

  • Networking Downward in Addition to Upward: Often times, the people who are shaking hands and rubbing elbows up the food chain are the people who the rest of the workforce resents or considers “brown nosers”.  That is why I like to make the distinction that networking “downward” is equally as important as networking upward.  I have long held that the single most important person to be friends with in any organization is the administrative support staff.  They are really the people who run the business.  They are responsible for scheduling time on the higher-ups’ calendars, often times have shortcuts to navigate tedious or difficult procurement processes, and are generally nicer people to bounce ideas off of because they typically don’t have any sort of personal agenda or thoughts on deep functional matters over which they have zero responsibility or investment.  Building rapport with everyone throughout the organization is paramount to making a name for yourself, and often times lets you have a better attitude when roaming the halls because you always have someone to chat with.
  • Composing Polished Communications (EVERY Time): I thought about rephrasing this to be “…polished, concise communications…” but then realized I would be pointing a loaded gun at my own foot.  Either way (long or short), communications of all types must come across as polished, well-thought-out, and appropriate for the audience in order for the message to be received in the best possible manner.  Emotions like stress, pressure, bitterness, apathy, or even hatred stick out like a sore thumb in communications, as much make-up as you try to apply.  That is why it is really important to always think before you speak (or write) and proofread/polish often.  Whether it’s your spoken word, written notes, emails, or phone conversations, it is entirely too easy to be misunderstood.  So – take the time to eliminate that threat – and be sure to compose polished communications at all times.
  • Participating in Extra-Curriculars: Programs outside of your day-to-day 9 to 5 responsibilities are a great way to add character to the volume of work that would otherwise adorn your internal resume.  Joining charitable causes, assisting with internal initiatives, or scheduling and participating in work (or non-work) functions such as subject matter expert societies will not only increase your own competency, but it will expand your network and reach as well.  Pick something you are otherwise passionate about (e.g. helping children, feeding the homeless, caring for animals) and use it as a springboard to engage the support of your colleges by spearheading an activity for your coworkers.  You will be surprised at what the power of positive actions will do not only for your psyche, but also for your personal brand in the workplace
  • Dressing Properly: As I have mentioned before, dressing the part is critical to ensuring you are well-regarded in the workplace.  Even if you work in a dress casual work environment, taking the extra time to look just a bit better than the rest of the workplace will cause people to look at you and assume you are prepared, polished, and ready to work each and every day.  Doing the little things like dry-cleaning or ironing also help with coming across put together.  I will stress again, though, that it is not beneficial to take it too far.  Wearing a suit in an office place where jeans and button ups are the norm will make you look overdressed and out of place.
  • Selectively Opting in to Fire Drills: I am certain I will revisit the topic of fire drills in the future, but suffice it to say I generally make a habit out of avoiding them at all costs.  I think that they largely are created by people who are unprepared or indifferent towards doing real work, or onset by people who have the propensity to procrastinate (no offense to those people – I have been known to put myself under extraneous pressure by intentionally waiting until a moment’s notice sometimes as well…).  However – there are circumstances where stepping in to help in these situations will make you look like a great team player and give you the opportunity to provide leadership in order to help achieve a required outcome.  Stepping in to help on high profile projects that are critical to your business or functional area is something your colleagues and superiors will remember for a long time to come – especially if you made a significant contribution to arriving at something great.  Just don’t make a habit out of it – people will form a dependency on people like you and ultimately take you for granted.  And that’s the quickest way to ruin work-life-balance: always being the person going the “extra mile”, working the weekends, and maintaining late nights just to help someone who didn’t do an effective job of planning their project in the first place.  We should all agree to stop rewarding poor planning when it becomes the rule rather than the exception.
Just remember that in everything you do in and around the office (or even outside of it), you are adding to your work profile in one way or another.  If you don’t want to be adversely judged for your actions – think about doing something different.  It may not always seem “fair” to be judged for some of the things you think are petty or inconsequential, but I’ve always believed one thing to be true: life’s not fair.  Not trying to be pessimistic – just realistic.  Welcome to Corporate America.  Knowing and playing by the rules is a huge part of your success, and the ability to act appropriately within those confines is something that will leave you prepared for the next level in any endeavor you choose.

Til Next Time,

Michael

My colleagues, friends, and I have recently engaged in significant talks about what is and is not appropriate attire for work. Inevitably, we fall all over the board as it relates to what is the best bet in terms of work dress. However, I think we can all generally agree on a few principles and best practices as it relates to acquiring and coordinating a good office wardrobe.

First, you should always dress at least as well as your coworkers or clients. This is so that you are meeting them and collaborating with them in attire that is comfortable for them, as you are neither underdressing them or severely overdressing them. Some will argue on the latter point in that statement (e.g. the typical “management consultant” that feels they should be in a three-piece-suit every day regardless of the client culture to justify their $250/hr charge-out rate), but I will always argue that showing up in a suit to a factory floor where even the top dog on site wears jeans every day is overly arrogant and will cause for you to be unfairly judged by the majority of the workforce unnecessarily.

Second, you should still aim to dress in something that fits you and makes you comfortable. Let’s face it: many of us struggle with various personal hygiene or appearance deficiencies that we need to care for when we go to put ourselves together in the morning. If you, like I, tend to be warmer than average on a temperature scale, it would be advisable to wear fabrics that are more breathable so that you aren’t sweating through your shirt just walking to a 9 AM meeting. If you are an especially tall person, it is important to select clothes that are proportional to your frame so that you don’t have to be self-conscious about wearing clothes that don’t fit. Ill-fitting clothes are one of the most inexcusable offenses anyone in the working world can make in my opinion. I know it can be costly to replace a wardrobe if your weight or muscle mass change, but in order to look the part, it is really important to dress in proper fitting clothes. You will ultimately be more comfortable and confident in whatever you do.

Third, there are several ways to “dress the part” without breaking the bank. One of my favorite sites for advanced men’s wardrobe on a budget is dappered.com, which aims to help aggregate style tips, large retailer sales, and under-the-radar merchandise that is available (often for a fraction of the cost of big name premier brands). Another great option for building a professional and sufficient wardrobe is to try out thrift stores. It is pretty easy to tell the quality of an item with a cursory inspection, and often times some of the merchandise will still have original tags on it because it was never worn. Just be sure to dry clean whatever you purchase, and you are all set as far as I’m concerned to start embracing “reclaimed” clothes.

While the conversation surrounding “dressing the part” is something that probably needs to be done specifically for each person with respect to their own colleagues, clients, and corporate culture, I believe the guardrails above at least help tailor the conversation to the things that matter when thinking about how to dress for success in your respective arena.

Bonus: here’s a great short video on finding a jacket that fits, courtesy of Birchbox Men, leveraging one of my favorite shows for the discussion: Suits (a MUST WATCH if you enjoy witty humor, Corporate America, and fashion in the Big Apple).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2otfm8vwEA&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Til Next Time,
Michael

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