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Professional Dress in the Workplace

This Tuesday, a colleague of mine, who is also a restaurant entrepreneur, briefly spoke in my Human Resource Management (HRM) class about the importance of HRM in his career. When he screened candidates, he started from three observable details: (a) whether the candidate carries a pen for interviews, (b) how well the candidate dresses for the position, and (c) what demeanors the candidate shows during the interview.

Indeed, how we dress and handle ourselves matter! According to the recruiter working in an international hotel chain (Kwok et al., 2011), hospitality is a still a conservative field; the hotel chain wants to see that candidates dress in business attire during job interviews, as what they would be expected at work.

Before, I shared some thoughts on business attire and business casual attire. In addition to those “common” what-not-to-wear tips (e.g., tattoos in most workplaces, mini-skirts, low-cut shirts, etc.), this ABC News video tells us more. For example,

  • Do NOT wear capes. It might look cute on the street, but not in the office. Instead, we should stick to the “classic” tailored suits.
  • Do NOT wear a designer bag or high-fashioned designer clothes for interviews. The underlying message conveyed in a candidate’s fashion statement is that s/he is so well-off that s/he might not really need the job.  
  • Do NOT wear leggings. Leggings are NOT pants. So, no matter how comfortably leggings could fit, do not wear them. Personally, I do not think leggings should be wear in public, not even in schools or grocery stores.  
  • Do NOT wear hats. A nice haircut is good.  
  • Do NOT wear any perfume or cologne. Please be thoughtful for the coworkers as they may not feel comfortable with the perfume or cologne.  
  • Do NOT wear flip flops. Flip flogs do not belong to the office regardless of the season.

Wearing appropriate dresses means more than just how we look --- it shows how much we care about ourselves and our coworkers. It also indicates how well we handle ourselves in professional occasions and how much we respect a company’s culture.

How important does the employees’ professional appearance mean to a hospitality business? Do you think hospitality companies need to put dress code in their employee handbook? Why or why not?

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  1. In hospitality, There were many treatment like, Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation, Pediatrics & Pediatric Surgery, Neurosciences, Oncology and many more.

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  2. I think employee professional appearance is very important to a hospitality business. Clothing can definitely represent the culture of the establishment and the care taken into how the business carries itself. I myself agree with all of the above "rules" of how to dress in a professional workspace. On the other hand, I think tattoos should be the exception. I do not have any tattoos of my own but I think the hospitality business industry should be more lenient to those who have them. They are a form of self-expression and if the owner has taken the care to get something permanently on their skin, it must be something important to them. As long as it isn't something inappropriate I think tattoos should become more and more acceptable.

    Alice Kim

  3. I agree that how you dress for a job interview says a lot about you. If you look sloppy, it gives off the impression that you are lazy and are not willing to give 100% to the job. If you look nice and put together, it gives off the impression that you are professional and care about how you are perceived by others. Before I go to job interviews, I make sure every aspect of my outfit is appropriate and professional. What you wear goes a long way and says a lot about your character. However, I think there are definite exceptions to these rules. If one is applying for example, a dishwasher position, wearing a professional outfit is very unnecessary.

  4. I definitely agree with you on all of the dress code information discussed above in your blog post. Whenever going to a job interview you should always dress to impress. You want to make sure you are the best dressed candidate in the room when a company is conducting interviews. Before an employer even gets to meet you, you are naturally being judged on your appearance before the interview is conducted. Unless told to tone down your dressing to business casual or if there are uniforms, you should always dress professional and formal in the work place. Even though all of the dress codes suggestions above are very true I feel it is hard to make generalizations about dress codes in the workplace because every work place may have a different views on what's appropriate or not.

  5. I agree that someone's appearance is very important at the workplace, whether it is a job interview or every day at your current job. Not only does how you dress say a lot about you but one's general appearance also speaks volumes about a person's self esteem and willingness to conform. I believe that it is important to have a nice clean haircut and be shaved neatly to show that you take either the interview or job seriously. I do not think that someone should try to be too trendy or cute, or wear high fashion because it could take away from what the interviewer or co-workers will think of you. By dressing in classic business attire, all the focus will be on the job itself. Although I think that everyone should be dressed appropriate for work, what is considered to be appropriate changes depending on the job. For example, if one is applying for a manager position they should be in a suit, but if they are applying for a dishwashing or housekeeping position they could go in a more casual, but put together outfit, like nice pants and a button down shirt.

    Lauren Haberman

  6. I agree that your appearance says a lot about you, the way you dress and present yourself to the company and interviewer is vital to your success in the interview. Since they only have a certain period of time to get a feel for you, and see if you would do well in the position, you wouldn't want to deter their feelings my being inappropriately dressed. I have noticed that dress code is stressed even more in the hospitality field. Interning this summer both at a hotel property and the company's corporate office I saw distinct differences in the dress code on the operations level and the corporate level. The hotel I worked at had a dress code, whether it was in their handbook or not, that required jackets or blazers any time you were on the property interacting with guests. That said, it all depends on which position you are filling, for each dress code may be different, some less professional than others.

  7. How someone dresses in the workplace is very important. I agree with what you said about how we dress and handle ourselves does matter. When you walk into an interview, your appearance is the first thing that catches the eye of the interviewer. If you are not dressed professionally, it will most likely lower your chances of getting hired. My dad is a headhunter in New York City, he constantly is hiring people and placing them in jobs. He says that appearance is everything when on a job interview. He said mostly every bullet point you said about how to dress appropriately for the job such as not wearing designer clothing, being well groomed, wearing appropriate foot wear, and wearing something tailored. One other thing that I think is inappropriate for a job interview is wearing chipped or dark nail polish. Having light manicured nails for an interview gives off a clean look to the interviewer as well.

  8. There are some things about professional dress that I disagree with as a woman. I think that traditional, conservative professional attire is designed to squash out any individuality and femininity that one can achieve on their day to day. I think it's time for the hospitality business to wake up and realize that we don't live in a suit and tie world anymore. The people making the most money in this country out in Silicon Valley wear jeans and hoodie to work. I'm not saying that hospitality should go this far but I think that professional dress needs to evolve. Individuality should be celebrated. I should be able to wear a cute top or cute tights with my outfit to stand out. I think that the idea of wearing a suit for the rest of my life seems like the most depressing thing ever. In most of the jobs I've had in my life I've had to wear a uniform. I worked at McDonald's, a grocery store called King Kullen, East Wind Inn & Spa on Long Island, and Syracuse University's own Student Centers and Programming services. All of these jobs have uniforms that are supposed to look "professional" but I can tell you that when someone is so uncomfortable in what they're wearing - it's not professional at all. Uniforms are obviously different than professional dress but it's the same idea. I prefer to dress in a snappy casual way on interviews or professional meetings. I'd like to look cute and stand out. And I will almost always opt for a designer purse because I might be a snob but I think that nothing speaks to good taste like the quality of a woman's purse and the quality of her shoes.

  9. Professional appearance is a very important business entertainment expenses. Clothing can definitely build on behalf of culture and how to take care of the business itself. I agree to the above "rules" how to dress in a professional.

    Delaware Valley it services

  10. This is something i stress every morning on a day of presentation, interview or special event. What is appropriate now-a-days ? Im sorry to say i don't agree with this list of appropriate professional attire, at least for the women side. I believe we (referring to women dress attire) evolved from your typical button up and tie. I believe its okay to mix it up, Slacks with a nice shirt substituted for the button up. What about colors ? are khaki slacks considered business attire ?

    Angie Garcia

  11. What we wear is an extremely important part of HR. I think that certain clothes can actually put people in uncomfortable positions and make other employers feel less comfortable around these employees. For instance, when women do wear leggings in the work place with just a shirt, it might put a male employee in an awkward position depending on how "revealing" the leggings may or may not be. This could disrupt their communication and result in a problem in the work environment.

    I think that women in particular have become really bad about what they wear. The recent trend of yoga pants, leggings, baby doll tops and showing off the lacy bra under a cut off t-shirt has put professional dress at an all-time low. Men on the other hand still seem to understand the importance of pants and a button down shirt.

    In order to efficiently enforce the dress code in the work place, a professional uniform code should be printed in the Employee Handbook along with the actions that are taken when you don't show up to work in proper dress. This ensures the company that they can send you home if you come dressed in improper work clothes without the employee being able to claim that he/she was never notified of any dress code.

    Marlei Simon


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