Reader Feedback: How Important is Dressing Well?

Posted January 28, 2011 by

I had a hearty chuckle when I saw this tweet last week from @employmentguru (aka Jay Hofmeister of the Resume Bay):
“What is proper business attire for job fairs? Dispatch had a picture of people at a job fair, I thought it was Woodstock”
But this weekend, when flipping through the New York Post, an op-ed piece entitled “Schlub Nation” caught my eye. The writer Faran Krentcil lamented about the prevalence of mourners at Ted Kennedy’s wake dressed in flip-flops, undershirts and dirty tees.

Dress to impress or dress to include?
Krentcil argues that putting the effort into dressing well for important events–like weddings, wakes, job interviews–shows as much respect for the other person as it does for yourself. “Aren’t you better than a ripped t-shirt with a mustard stain on the collar?” he asks.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” but should we?
I admit that since moving to Florida from New York City, my everyday dress is much more casual. I have driven to Whole Foods wearing flip-flops, for example, where I’d never worn flip-flops before except for maybe the locker room at the gym. But I still dress up for speaking engagements, business meetings, television appearances. When I’m in the spotlight, wearing good quality, nice fitting clothes makes me feel more authoritative. I’m happy to have all eyes looking at me, and looking pulled together reinforces my personal brand.
My husband and I had a discussion recently about what advice he should give to a friend who is interviewing for a job with my husband’s employer, a Fortune 500 bank with a very casual dress code. He thought his friend might stick out in a bad way if he came in a suit. He would look “too New York” for this non-New York crowd.
I said that while I understood his point, if I were interviewing someone, no matter how I personally was dressed, I’d expect the candidate to be wearing a suit and tie. What you dress like when you have the job is one thing, but I don’t think it ever hurts to dress up to get the job.
But that’s just me. How do YOU feel?
Reader feedback wanted
Since readers of the Personal Branding Blog are pretty diverse, I thought it might be enlightening to get your opinion and I’ll summarize the findings in a future post. Here are some questions to get you started:
What style of dress is most consistent with your personal brand?
Thinking about the one or two standard deviations away from the middle of the bell curve rather the extremes…Do you feel better in business situations when you’re dressed a bit better than average? Or is it more important for you to blend in, maybe dress down slightly so as not to make a big deal about appearance?
Do you have a higher opinion of someone who is dressed a bit better than average?
If you weren’t sure of the implicit dress code, would you tend to dress up, dress down or dress consistently with your personal brand whatever that happens to be?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
Liz Lynch is founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2008). She writes, speaks and consults to experienced professionals on how to seamlessly integrate social media and traditional networking to save time and accelerate results.
Dan Schawbel.jpg Article courtesy of Dan Schawbel, the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. He authors the Personal Branding Blog and publishes Personal Branding Magazine and authored the upcoming book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, Spring 2009). Dan has been called a “personal branding force of nature” by Fast Company and his work has been published in BrandWeek Magazine, Advertising Age and countless other publications.

Originally posted by Candice A

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