Joe Sharkey’s NY Times travel column today covers an interesting subject: proper business attire. In Sharkey’s piece, he recounts the style gaffe he’d recently committed by wearing a light colored business suit to a mid-Summer meeting in Tokyo. That’s a no-no, says Sharkey, who advises readers to always wear dark, traditional suits when conducting business in Japan.
Sharkey’s piece got me to thinking about some of the fashion disasters we’ve had over the years at Peppercom. For example, there was:
1) the Jimmy Buffet-type media specialist who loved to sport his Hawaiian shirts, jeans and flip flops in the office. This guy was a great publicist, but we cringed at the thought of bringing him to client meetings (not that he didn’t have very attractive feet mind you).
2) the management supervisor who wore a New Jersey Devils jersey and cap every Friday. Now, I’m a big fan of casual dress codes, but managers simply shouldn’t wear baseball caps in the office (unless, of course, they actually work for a sports team).
3) the female manager who wore low riders and oh so visible thongs. I’ll never forget the shocked reaction of our then-consultant when he spotted the fashion gaffe. This woman was so oblivious to the distraction she was causing that we had to enlist our human resources manager to do an intervention.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to dress in the office. Sensing what’s right and what’s not is a key part of building one’s image and reputation within the organization. While it won’t make or break a career, flip-flops and low riders can definitely slow down its progress. When in doubt, though, follow the dress codes of your supervisors (unless, of course, they’re wearing ice hockey jerseys or showing too much of their anatomy).