Friday, August 17, 2007

Gen X/Y: How to Dress for Success (don't wear pantyhose)

I confess. I love reading business/leadership/self-help type books. I like to read about how people network effectively, lead efficiently, and communicate powerfully. Perhaps that's why I am so enthralled by other people's career journeys. I often find myself asking friends, acquaintances, and strangers questions like: "What did you major in?" "Where did you work before...?" "What are your future aspirations?" "How did you get from point A to point B?" I want to soak it all in.

So, it will probably not be a shocker to you that I have read my fair share of books about professional dress. You know the ones I'm talking about - the manuals in the "dress for success" genre that tell you to "tuck in your shirt," "wear pantyhose," and "wear monochromatic colors."

Those books are going out-of-style quick, not only because fashion changes so rapidly, but because the new rules for fashion success in the workplace are...well...different.

Old Rule: Wear pantyhose.
New Rule: Put them on if you are under 60 and you will certainly be a fashion pariah in the workplace. They are old school. Period.

Old Rule: Don't wear open-toed shoes.
New Rule: They can be professional and stylish. Choose wisely.

Old Rule: Always tuck in your shirt.
New Rule: Sometimes you can tuck. Sometimes you can untuck. Shirts are designed for both.

Old Rule: Carry a briefcase.
New Rule: What's a briefcase? Laptop bags, oversized purses, and other utility bags are the rage.

Old Rule: Always dress up. You need to show your authority somehow.
New Rule: Dress down sometimes. It will make you more approachable and authentic.

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about the fashion rules that have stayed the same.

(Photo by: Tim Cummins)

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