These outfits are never to attract the right career prospect but an unsettling way of creating the double-edged sword: mixing business with pleasure. Now, if you really are not sure what to wear and believe that club attire is acceptable for genuine networking, you are seriously mistaken. With corporate business models tightening the reigns, and increasing awareness of sexual harassment in the work place, the last thing any networking employer seeking to hire wants to see is inappropriate attire.
Some time ago I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with individuals being trained for employment. On one particular day for a homework assignment, everyone was asked to arrive on time, have their resume prepared, and required to dress as if attending a scheduled interview. This proved to be a complete eye opener for me because I assumed that the age group of the class demographic either had children of their own or in some cases, grandchildren, but they should have known better.
The clothing of choice ranged from low-cut braless to bare feet in thongs-not kidding here. The trend of becoming overly comfortable with laid back social media engagement seems to have transcended into a no-holds-barred approach to dressing with a seductive slant.
Just when I thought the morning could not get any worse, some were actually offended at the thought that their dress code would even be questioned. The simple rule of thumb for dress appropriate networking, employment interviews and the like is simple: If you can see thru it, or under it-do not wear it.
Innocent mistakes can occur, such as thinking an item is less transparent than originally thought. Solution: have a friend check that particular garment if unsure, or simply omit it from your business wardrobe altogether.
I know we are living in an era wear the norm is going to the store in pajama bottoms, which I am still appalled at, by the way, but worse still, many miss what type of message this gives to potential employers or colleagues. Another issue is decorum. Create a safe zone by avoiding anything that could attract unwanted advances or situational conflicts of business conduct.
The contrast between tasteful and repulsive is made evident when your skillset wins but your business wardrobe stinks. Because of the diversity in the workplace, giving pause before putting on the first thing not requiring an iron, means preparing the night before. Wearing clothes that are too tight sends a message of carelessness, or "I don't care what you think-this is all about me" attitude.
Everything we do is about branding, whether we are entrepreneurs, co-workers, management or potentials, we are representing ourselves. You need to assume that the contacts you make are seeking to understand how you fit into their own branding models. If on your own trying to build a business, giving reasons for doubt defeats your purpose and bottom line.
Before you get a chance to say one word, your outfit has communicated volumes as to how you respect yourself, your environment and the prioritized effort you put forth in building a good first and lasting impression.
So the question is, how do you look-how do you really look? Time well spent on aligning the right gear is a true investment that may just be the best non-verbal action of your day.
Next week-decoding the myths of lay-off blues