Importance of Appearance in the Workplace

by Timothea Xi; Updated September 26, 2017
businesswoman and a businessman shaking hands in a conference room

Maintaining certain standards of appearance in the workplace is a necessity in the business world. Unfair or not, how you present yourself affects how others perceive your intelligence, education and capabilities. Appearance can influence people and potentially impact how a business performs. It also serves as a basis of hiring employees and creating a good impression among colleagues.

Toeing the Line

A dress code policy should clearly delineate the company's expectations, says business publisher MultiBriefs. It must also define terms such as "professional," "neat" and "groomed," and state repercussions of deviating from the policy. Regulating employee appearance in this way helps companies comply with health and safety codes. It can also boost a company's public image and minimize the possibility of costly discrimination lawsuits.

Antidiscrimination P's & Q's

Employer dress codes must adhere to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the statute that prohibits discrimination based on sex, color, religion, national origin, race and religion.To stay in line with Title VII, dress policies should be crafted to adopt anti-bullying and non-retaliation policies, as well as internal grievance procedures. Companies should train personnel to tolerate differences in appearance and individual expression, and maintain the confidentiality of any employee making a complaint.

Rules of Thumb for Men

As business news website Business Insider puts it, appearance translates into success. By not conforming to protocol, people potentially hurt their chances at promotion. For men, career channel Future of Working says you can't go wrong with a two-piece suit and a matching pair of shoes. Forgo the offbeat ties, powder-blue suits and trendy dress shirts. Be clean-shaven, or if you have facial hair, groom it and keep it within the styles found in your industry.

Rules of Thumb for Women

For women, appearances can be a landmine of potential distractions and opportunities to give the wrong impression. Opt for the classic suit-and-skirt outfit in black, gray, dark gray or navy. The suit should be fitted but not snug. Blouses should be tailored, hosiery should be sheer or neutral. Accessories should match your suit and not be flamboyant or jangle. Stick to natural shades for your nails and makeup. Avoid strong perfume or the smoldering eye look.

About the Author

Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.

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