Importance of Appearance in the Workplace

Want to win the race? Dress the part.

Want to win the race? Dress the part.

If you think appearance doesn't count in the workplace, think again. While the quality of your work is the most important thing, your appearance has an immediate impact on your co-workers, including your bosses. While eccentricity might be tolerated -- and even embraced -- in some settings, most workplaces are conservative and want you to be, too. If the company has a dress code policy, your job could be hanging by your threads.

Clothing Choices

Many offices have a dress code; know what it says and follow it. Low-cut shirts, high-riding skirts and stilletto heels may be on the forbidden list, depending on exactly where you work. Some offices don't allow jeans, but it's a rare office today that doesn't allow its employees to wear pants of some type. If you must wear a uniform, conform to the rules. Some medical facilities have rules about what types or colors of scrubs you can wear, including whether cartoon characters are allowed. Companies are within their rights to establish guidelines, unless their rules somehow violate your religious convictions.

Grooming

Coming to work with your hair looking like you just rolled out of bed might not violate company policy, but it will definitely have your co-workers talking about you – and not in a good way. Sloppiness -- whether it's uncombed hair, rumpled or dirty clothes, clothes that are too loose or too tight, untucked shirts or filthy shoes -- is a sign of disrespect for your job, at least in the eyes of your supervisors. You're a public representative of your company; if you work in the corporate office of a Fortune 500 company, the standards might be much higher than if you work in the company's maintenance department.

Body Art

Tattoos and piercings have become much more mainstream. Around 22 percent of women have tattoos and 21 percent have had at least one body piercing, according to a 2006 article in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology." But extreme tattoos --including potentially offensive subjects or tattoos on your face -- could get you fired or, at least, relegated to a back office out of sight. Companies often have policies on visible piercings; you might be wise to remove them during work hours.

Personal Hygiene

Although there is some overlap, personal hygiene differs slightly from grooming. Personal hygiene includes brushing your teeth, cleaning and trimming your fingernails, using deodorant or washing your hair. Some adults are woefully unaware of how their body odor or breath affects others. Even if you believe that body odors are natural, find an environmentally-friendly way to keep your teeth clean and your odors to yourself.

 

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

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