Offices have different rules for dress codes - East Valley Tribune: Business

Offices have different rules for dress codes

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Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2005 6:44 am | Updated: 8:08 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Written or unwritten, every job carries with it a dress code. Many employers put a priority on how workers represent the firm. Even the NBA cares about how its players look.

Commissioner David Stern on Monday mandated that athletes dress more formally at job-related functions, including while sitting on the bench.

Firms across the East Valley have long had dress codes, but they vary depending on the industry.

An appropriate wardrobe is key despite those differences, said Jim Clayton, associate director of the MBA and Graduate Career Management Center at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

"You might be the world’s best mind in finance, but if I can’t get past those jeans and that sloppy shirt you’re wearing and I can’t pass you on to my vice president, I can’t move you along," Clayton said.

Clayton teaches a professionalism and corporate culture class for graduate and MBA students. One session is devoted to the difference between business formal, business casual and "things you just don’t wear to work."

"We have a meeting at Nordstrom’s and we have a fashion show. . . . It’s a two-hour presentation. It’s that important," Clayton said.

Sandra Saoud, owner of Sincerely Sandra Image Development in Chandler, agreed. Saoud leads seminars for newly hired flight attendants at US Airways and also works with individuals who are entering the workplace or looking for an upward move.

"People have just gotten way too casual," Saoud said.

The proper clothing isn’t about money, but style and maintenance, she said.

Men will often wear things much too long, with an ironed crease along a pants front becoming faded. They often forget the importance of having a recent hair cut, clean, short nails and a well-groomed beard.

"It’s a belt in the belt loops, making sure that their clothes are ironed. Those $1.75 cleaners are great," Saoud said.

For women, "a lot of it is too sexy dress at work. It’s wearing these lacy, satin camisoles and not the proper undergarments," she said.

But many times, people don’t know that their clothing is inappropriate, or the impression an outfit can make, Saoud said.

"Unfortunately, we are judged by our appearance. It’s human nature, we do it. We have to face that," Saoud said and offered this advice:

"Every day before you leave your house, give yourself two to three seconds in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I making the impression that I want?’ "

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