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What They See is What You Get

In business today, what they see is what you get. Senior management is demanding and expecting their employees to "look the part." No longer is "business casualty" admissible. Instead, a success-oriented employee today is expected to be well mannered and groomed, presenting themselves and their company in a manner that says, "I'm serious about my business and yours."

J.P. Morgan's David Hitchcock, head of corporate access (whose job it is to ensure best practice), recently said in a memo, "A poorly organized meeting can blow a corporate relationship for a long time. He went on to upbraid the bank's equity sales team, as reported in Financial Times, for failing to show "A professional face at all times" and told them to smarten up their appearance, even suggesting that they should buy an iron. Some of the key areas Hitchcock identified as lacking in companies today are appearance, etiquette, protocol, and an overall understanding of cultural communications.

Fashion consultant, Georgia Donovan ( offers tips from her, "Visual Empowerment for Career Success" program to help job seekers maximize their appearance. Donovan draws from her own former career as a corporate executive in a fortune 100 company to help the employee make the most of his or her appearance:

  • Emphasize that there is a lasting synchronicity between who you are, how you look and what you want in your career.

  • Make it a point to dress appropriately for your age and body type and not be a slave to current trends or become a fashion victim.

  • Conservative is still in when dressing for corporate career. Keep in mind that you should dress your best at all times. Its important to make a good impression when you walk through the door of your potential employer or client meeting.

Classic Essentials for Women

  • Spend the most you can afford on a basic, timeless wardrobe.

  • Solid color suit, coordinated blouse in silk or soft fabric.

  • Classic style shoes with no more than a 2 heel. No open toes or sandals.

  • Limited jewelry, classic watch.

  • Neat, professional hairstyle.

  • Light hosiery all year long. Never bare legs.

  • Soft neutral make-up and light perfume.

  • Manicured nails that are no longer than the tips of your fingers.

  • Classic handbag and never a backpack!

Classic Essentials for Men

  • Solid color suit, white /pale blue long sleeve shirt. French cuffs are the most elegant.

  • Conservative tie.

  • Dark socks, professional shoes.

  • Very limited jewelry but a classic tank style watch is a fashion staple for men.

  • Neat, professional hairstyle and most professions prefer a clean-shaven face.

  • Light on the after-shave or cologne.

  • Neatly trimmed nails.

  • Portfolio or briefcase - lose the backpack!

What you wear says more about you than your resume. A person's impression of you is formed within the first three minutes of meeting you and your image can be a major roadblock to your career success.

Good grooming and classic style are characteristics that most employers associate with intelligence, social skills and professional competency.

-Georgia Donovan
Georgia Donovan, The Clothes Doctor, is a fashion consultant, whose mission is to help people reach their fashion potential and raise their fashion consciousness. She offers one-on-one wardrobe consulting and seminars to help companies and their employees develop and project a more professional appearance. More information about her services can be found at or by calling (215) 794-3826.

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