If you’re a young person who has beaten the odds and gotten employed in a great business setting, you must be credible. Here are some things that you need to do to establish your bona-fides.
1). Chill on the bling-bling. One ring per hand (except for the wedding and engagement set) and only on the “ring finger.” Don’t wear a ring on any other finger, your thumb, etc. Never wear a toe ring where it can be seen in a business setting. As sexy as they may be, they’re inappropriate for business. Ditto on ankle bracelets, etc.
2). No bangles, jangles or dangles. Don’t wear anything that rattles, swings or is overly ostentatious. Simple, elegant jewelry is best…and very little of it, at that. Save the bling-bling for dates.
3). Watch the hair. Hair should be very conservative and professional in appearance. This doesn’t mean, women, that you necessarily have to keep it short. If you’re young, long, flowing hair that is well-tended can still look just fine. But style it a bit. Mohawks, outlandish styles or hair that is tinted or colored a shade unnatural to humanity is just out.
4). Makeup. If you’re a woman, you should wear some light, understated make-up. Not doing so detracts from your credibility. But don’t do the “Tammy Faye Baker Ski Report” — two inches of base and two inches of powder. Being overly made up just looks cheap. Guys, don’t wear make-up.
5). Nail polish. Make sure that, if you polish your nails, you keep them well tended. Don’t let the nail polish on finger or toe-nails get chipped and icky looking. Either go without or keep it neat. Wear a very conservative and understated color. No blue, green, black, etc. Save that for the weekends if you must. Guys — no nail polish.
6). Beards. If you’re going to have a beard, have a beard, not that 3-day-old-stubble thing that all of the fools in Hollywood sport. Either actually grow a beard or go clean shaven. Women — if you have a beard, you might want to get that taken care of. You can’t wear a beard.
7). Limit tats and piercings. Your tattoos and piercings, other than an understated ear piercing for women, should not be seen. What you do with your personal areas or whatever is covered by your clothes is your business. But other than a pierced ear for women (and sometimes for guys, depending on the company), absolutely no facial piercings. Never let your tat be visible to your co-workers or bosses. Never.
8). Be careful what you eat. Don’t eat messy things at a company lunch. Stay away from “kid’s food,” too. Your best bet at business meals is to eat very light. Chicken, a boneless fish or the like are much better than a steak or (heaven forbid) baby back ribs. Save those for personal time.
9). Watch stockings (for women). From Labor Day to Memorial Day, if you’re in a dress or any other attire that shows leg, you should wear hose. But be careful. Your hose should be sheer (no leggings or tights), and unadorned. No patterns. And certainly not fishnets or the like. These are absolute no-nos. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, if you have decent looking legs (and keep them hair-free) you may go without hose. But just make sure you’re not showing more than you might want to.
10). Watch shoes (for women). From Labor Day to Memorial Day, your toes shouldn’t show at all. In the summer you can wear peep-toes, and, if in very casual business attire, even a professional sandal. Flip-flops, even on “casual Friday” are a “never.” Stay away from platforms and very high heels. Don’t wear anything that laces up your leg. Boots are fine, but they should end under the knee and not be the “thigh boots” that are fashionable now. I’m truly serious about not showing toes after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. Very serious.
In the summer, if you’re going to wear open toed shoes or sandals, make sure your toes are painted a conservative color, well tended, and kept up. Make sure your feet look well and professionally tended, as well.
11). Shoes and socks (for guys). You may never show toes or bare feet except at a pool party. Otherwise stick to professional looking, well tended shoes. If they take a shine, shine them often. Buy new ones when they get scruffy-looking. Don’t let a hole stay in the sole. No white shoes ever. Never any sandals, even with socks. Never.
Socks must be the same shade or, preferably, darker than your slacks. Watch patterns.
12). Don’t be fashionable. Dress in similar attire to your boss and others who are in authority, even though it will be “old” for you. This will gain you credibility. You need to decide if you want to be super-fashionable or have your ideas listened to. If I were in your shoes, I would dress conservatively and get my ideas heard by my employers and customers or clients.
13). Glasses, if you wear them, should be pretty conservative in nature. Nothing outlandish or too stylish. Again, save these for the weekend. Contacts should be a color natural to humanity.
14). Keep your opinions to yourself. Don’t let others know what your political, religious or personal opinions are. This only leads to trouble (unless you’re in a very close-knit company where such is welcomed).
15). Slow down your speech. Learn to speak more slowly and distinctly. This makes you seem a bit older and wiser. Rapid-fire speech will make you seem like a kid. And avoid all slang. This includes saying over and over again “you know,” “I mean,” and “awesome.” Eliminate, also, any profanity from your speech, even if the boss uses it. He’s the boss.
16). Remember this saying, “Quod licit Jovum, non licet bovum.” This means, in English, “What is permitted to Jupiter (the gods) is not permitted to the ox.” Another way of saying this is “Rank Has Its Privileges.” Just because your boss does it doesn’t mean that you can…nor are you entitled to. Your boss has years of experience and dues-paying on him or her. You don’t.
When you’ve paid your dues and are in charge, then you can tell the wet-behind-the-ears kids what to do. In the meantime, if you want to be taken seriously in the business world, you have to follow these simple guidelines to look credible.