Dressing the Part: PR & Marketing

How creative is too creative when dressing for work?
How creative is too creative when dressing for work?

A recent PRDaily post offers advice on dressing for success in the PR/Marketing world  in, “What to Wear in the PR and Marketing Industry.” (Note: We have edited the copy below – read the full post here). These handy tips can help you if you’re stuck on how to present a polished, professional image while maintaining your creativity cred. 

Feel comfortable in your clothes. Your clothes should reflect your true self—don’t pretend. Just because you think you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t mean that hoodies and Adidas flip-flops are for you. …Clients and co-workers will notice if you’re a sartorial con artist. (WoWo says: Take the time to find your signature ‘look.’ You’ll exude confidence, and that can help your performance on the job.)

Dress to impress on the job hunt. If you’re looking for a full-time opportunity, err on the side of caution. Step it up a bit with something slightly more formal that shows a dash of personality, but nothing that overwhelms the situation. For men, it might mean colorful socks or a pocket square for your sports coat or suit jacket. For women, it might be how you choose to accessorize your outfit. (WoWo says: This should be common sense, yet it is sad that so many people still don’t get it. “Dress to Impress” doesn’t have to mean a black suit and boring black pumps. It means inject some personality into your look that translates, ‘I have taste, style and a winning personality, and I am up to the position’s expectations. I’m the missing link on  your team.’)

Accessorize carefully. Some say the ability to accessorize is what separates us from animals. Leesa Butler said it also has the ability to overwhelm. “One day I wore these fabulous bangles that seem to take a life of their own,” she recalled. “They would rattle incessantly. In the middle of a corporate meeting, I quickly realized what a distraction they were and took them off immediately.” (WoWo says: Your accessories should speak volumes without making a sound. And, don’t go overboard with the accessories – make one statement at a time.

Fit the culture. Butler said she once worked at an agency with a casual environment, in which they always dressed fashion forward when meeting a client. Why? “Because that’s why the client chose us—they liked that as part of our package,” she explained. Former beauty executive Jenny Frankelsaid the same thing works on the client side. “I always read the environment of my agency,” she said. … (Wowo says: This is a tricky one. While you want to fit the overall culture, being a member of the Stepford professionals may not be your cup of tea. If everyone dresses professionally at client meetings, you should follow the unwritten code, but “own your look”). 

Follow the leader. Barbara Laidlaw, senior vice president and partner at Fleishman Hillard in New York, suggested employees take a cue from their boss when attending client meetings. “If he or she is normally business casual in the office, but wears a suit or other more formal attire when visiting certain clients, do the same,” she said. “No one has ever been looked down upon for dressing up a bit or dressing slightly more conservatively.” (WoWo says: right on. If your higher up dresses higher up for certain meetings, follow suit.)

Dress your age. If you’re the “veteran”—that is, older than 25—in your office environment, you don’t need to dress down to fit in. But do dress your age. For men, that could mean a sports jacket or suit with an open collar. For women, it can be tempting to have fun—but not too much. If your teenage daughter is a mini, please don’t assume you can pull off the same look. “In most offices, your wardrobe should absolutely not be the same as you wear to the beach on weekends,” said Laidlaw. (Wowo says: Age-appropriate doesn’t mean “old-fashioned” or even “casual.” You are an adult. Dress like one. A miniskirt is not only age inappropriate, it is work inappropriate – even for a creative professional).

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