While this may seem overstated, a professional appearance is an absolute requirement for Burleson Consulting. This angel came to Joe's rescue
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A fresh haircut, spit-shined shoes and a crisp suit go a long way in establishing a professional demeanor. It's also about taste and quality; most professionals can spot a cheap suit at ten paces and it is easy to spot cheap shoes. Remember, employers in the USA have a legal right to ask you to adhere to dress codes: We should be able to do what we want. Plus, it's not sexual discrimination to require separate grooming standards and dress codes for men and women: Have you ever gone to church on Sunday and instantly noted the people who normally do not wear a suit?
You know, the men with striped shirts, plaid ties and lime green sport coats? Sadly, professional dress and grooming standards have fallen from popular culture, and we don't have to look far to find examples of unprofessional dress.
Here are some examples of inappropriate male grooming: No Neanderthal-style unibrows are allowed, and you should shave any loose hair on your forehead or the palms of your hands. All ear hair must be shaved, and remove any "Admiral Zumwalt" style giant eyebrows. If you must wear a toupee, have it custom fitted and secured properly. Please, no Trump-style comb-overs. Here are some examples of inappropriate female grooming: Let's take a closer look at specific dress codes for male and female professionals.
If the client wants you to wear tattered cut offs, that's fine, just make sure that you check with the client first to ensure that you are not dressed inappropriately for their environment. I'm not trying to be a chauvinist here, but many of our client organizations have standards for professional appearance, and it's better to be safe than to be embarrassed.
When the client specifically requests that you dress down , the following dress code applies: The only exception to this casual dress code is when the client specifically requests you dress down below our casual standards shorts, t-shirts. When consulting for clientele in tropical areas, Burleson Consulting requires our professionals wear ties and dress clothes. You may, at your option, wear tropical suits when working in balmy climates Caribbean, Polynesia, Hawaii, etc.
Also, after the first day, you may dress down, but only at the client's behest. When consulting in these tropical areas, white, tan and light gray linen suits are acceptable for men and women, provided that the suits are permanent press and wrinkle-free.
Your tie must be worn at all times, but you may remove your jackets and roll up your sleeves, if this is the custom of your client. Short sleeve white dress shirts are not permitted. You may wear casual dress shoes, including white dress shoes, but sandals are never appropriate.
For female tropical dress requirements, trousers are permitted, and pastel and white colors are considered acceptable. You would be surprised how many people will judge you by the quality of your shoes and how you maintain them. Your shoes are important, really important. Did you know that you can be legally be fired if your boss thinks that you wear shabby shoes?
To prevent foot odor and increase the life of your shoes, many consultants travel with two pairs and rotate them every day. Wing-tip shoes are allowed but not encouraged. Always carry a shoe care kit when traveling and make sure to touch-up your shoes before going on-site with a client. The toes of the shoes should be polished to a mirror finish, and you should be able to see your face in the shine of an acceptable shoe shine.
To establish a great base shine, you can easily locate a shoe service at any fine shoe store or military base. Once your base shine is complete, basic care will keep them looking spectacular. Many consultants place their shoes in sealed bags to prevent the hairline cracks that can occur in dry climates.
The recent fashion trend toward goofy square-tipped shoes, pointy-toed roach killers, shoes with thick soles and other non-traditional shoe styles are never acceptable for a professional. Also, despite the latest fashion trends in Europe, medieval style shoes are really, really stupid looking. At first, I wasn't sure whether to include this serious fashion faux pas of European origin as an example of unacceptable clothing or prohibited footwear.
Since sneakers are never allowed, I opted to include them with footwear as it's important to note that no matter how far the sneaker extends above the ankle, it's still a sneaker. It is apparent from the posture of the bearer of this fashion burden, it inspires confidence in neither the wearer nor the observer. Optional Headwear dress code for non-USA consulting. High quality Panama straw hats are appropriate with tropical dress suits.
They are also utilitarian, adding shade and retarding sweat. When representing Burleson Consulting, it is not acceptable to wear any cultural or religious garments that may offend a client. See this page for details on working with different cultures. Burleson consulting respects the religious beliefs of you and our clients, but our clients come first. When representing Burleson Consulting it is unacceptable to wear any garments, icons or jewelry that may have overt or covert religious, racial, cultural or national connotations that may offend a client.
It is important to any professional not to advertise religious affiliations. For example, when consulting in areas with large Muslim populations, you may not wear customary garments unless you are a practicing member of that religion, and then, only when the attire is consistent with the other tenets of our dress code.
Dress Code Accessories Here are some accessories that you might want to consider: However, all accessories can be abused, so be careful that your accessories remain in good taste: Any of the following might be cause for immediate withdrawal from any client site: Like it or not, you are immediately judged by your appearance.
However, all on-site engagements require absolute professional quality dress and demeanor. Spit-shined, high quality shoes and a professionally tailored suit are immediately apparent to anyone who must wear a suit every day. There are few of the most common questions about our professional dress code. I applaud your standards. Can I copy this page for my students? I strongly believe in passing on the text of this dress code. However, some images are used here with permission Thanks Mike , and I cannot consent to allow reproduction of the illustrations.
You are a sexist pig, making women wear skirts. How dare you impose these dress standards? Actually, I don't set these standards, the clients do. You must conform to the dress codes to enter client site, and it's not just women. I worked at a bank where employees could not have long hair or beards and you could be reprimanded for wearing a non-white shirt. At my own headquarters, there is no, absolutely no, dress code whatsoever: Donald Burleson reinforces the effect of first impressions made by these factors and he does it in a very humorous and memorable way.
It is well worth a look. While you may take exception to these codes Mr. Burleson is quite emphatic that the codes are set by his clients. Personally, I think there is a lot of practical wisdom in what he says. Your dress code page had me on floor: I understand the need for your employees to make a professional impression on your clients, and I wouldn't advocate that you do anything different.
However, I find the cultural mindset on the part of your clients which produces such rigidity depressing.
I get the impression of a class consciousness emanating from the upper echelons of those companies which smacks of elitism and snobbery, and that rubs me the wrong way. I am speaking about the executives, of course, who all too often are engaged in a can-you-top-this contest to bolster their already inflated egos, who are then emulated in dress and style by the sychophantic ladder-climbing managers underneath them.
These are the companies that provide fodder for the Dilbert comic strip, with their employees slaving away in standardized cubicles, terrified of losing their jobs due to some social blunder. I think you see through all that, because you obviously have a pretty good sense of humor. I also think that the instructional pages which you put up on the web represent a true desire to be helpful and show a generosity which goes beyond merely advertising your services.
I escaped from corporate ladder-climbing long ago and am a much happier person for it, working for a small company in a no-nonsense environment. The company consists almost entirely of technical specialists -- programmers, engineers, etc. For their part, the banks and insurance companies would contend that their dress codes are necessary in order to make a good impression on their clients, but I think one has to differentiate between the necessary dress code for front-line people dealing directly with customers, such as bank tellers, and the dress code of the executives, which seems to be more about making a statement about the wearer's position, wealth, and power.
The only thing which I could perhaps find fault with in your dress code is not the dress code itself, but rather the sense of finality in the pronouncements of what is stylish and what is not. There is indeed a certain timelessness to a good blue or charcoal suit and a good pair of shoes, but as you yourself noted, hats went out in the 50's. Perhaps in another 50 years, your shiny black shoes will look as outdated as one of those Fedora hats does today. Also, medieval shoes look stupid to you.
The polo hats and funny riding trousers of the modern day aristocracy look stupid to me. The people I admire most are scientists, and we know how well Einstein dressed: It is certainly an interesting point of view, and quite "East-coast" in its formality. In the decade-plus I have been in the technology sector, none of the companies some Fortune had a dress code like the one you model.
I believe, though, that many companies could absolutely use some level of redress, if you'll forgive the pun, of their dress code to get closer to yours. I am also a senior enlisted member of the Army Reserve, and I was concerned when I read your statement: It would be helpful to warn your those who are read your web page that military installations are not as open as they once were, and that they should be prepared to be turned away at the gate.
Security levels change without notice to the public; further, the general public has no "automatic right" to access a military installation, especially if the purpose of the visit is to get their shoes shined. In all other respects, however, I applaud your efforts to return the American workforce to a condition in which pride of appearance was at the root of the pride of individual workmanship.
One of the first lessons we learned in basic training was that your personal appearance is a direct reflection of your standard of workmanship. I learned that putting two hours of effort into getting a mirror finish on my boots, even when I knew I would wipe out that effort in the first half hour of the next day's work, showed that I cared about my appearance and it demonstrated my work ethic.
That has served me well in my civilian life. I particularly liked your section dealing with dress codes; it is spot-on. I spent nine years in the business world prior to returning to active duty after , and your comments regarding dressing properly for business are right on the mark. Prior to my return to active duty, I spent approximately five years as a Cisco consultant and trainer and to project the proper image, you had to dress for success.
It is also refreshing to see a company that stresses integrity as a core business principle. Unfortunately too many businesses do not understand the importance of honest, forthright business dealings. Although it might take a lot longer to hire the employees you seek, in the end it will save you a lot of money due to the reliability of your work force. I really appreciated your page! I am a 23 year old woman in law school and no one has ever explained professional dress to me! I still have one question: What is appropriate footwear for women?
I know open toes are not acceptable but what about the back of the shoe or heel height? And what color should stockings be? Thank you so much for the great site! Hosiery should be plain no patterns or embellishments in a color that flatters your coloring.
In other words, wear a neutral color. Wear flat shoes or low pumps in conservative colors. You don't want to call undue attention to your feet!
Shoes should be polished and be easy to walk in. And of course avoid dressy designs such as open toes and sling backs. The goal is to look professional, confident and competent not "sexy". Loved your article - However there's a lot more to acceptable dress code standards from different places around the world - several of which I have personally experienced or recommended to conform to. In certain countries the neck tie is banned, because of its 'colonial era' associations, and must never be worn.
In a similar vein I've found several cultures where wearing light blue or white shirts is a definite no-no. While on assignment in one area, I didn't wear white or blue shirts for nearly two years - whether on-site or off. Overdressing is also a problem - being formal when your client is plainly very casual in their dress code won't likely lose you the contract, but it may well inhibit you getting the next piece of work unless you can 'dress-down' to a suitable degree. However, I have found it appropriate to never participate in client 'casual Fridays', etc.
Being 'overly' formal can also be interpreted as pretentious and 'out of touch' by the client. This can be a very dangerous message to send by our dress and grooming, when we're trying to convey the impression that we are up-to-date and relevant. It is very important to be fashion conscious, never wearing anything obviously out-of-date for the same reason. Although I have learnt the lesson of never out-dressing your client - unless they are the kind that really enjoy the competition in a friendly sense.
Your interpretation of 'Tropical Formal' is also interesting. In the South Pacific 'Tropical Formal' would often mean a plain colored shirt, with long trousers - but not always a neck tie. Sandals too would often be considered acceptable and in fact more appropriate than shoes. May I suggest you make an addition to your dress code page. Some areas of the country during the summer desert areas run in the plus degree weather. I have an issue with an obese female employee.
She wears short miniskirts, spaghetti-strapped tops, spandex leggings, and low-cut tops, revealing her huge breasts. She looks really gross, and our customers have commented on her unprofessional attire. All of our outdoor employees have a dress code:
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