By Judith Rasband
©2006-2017 Conselle L.C.

I’m up to my ears in media interviews concerning business casual-ties and sewer chic. I am reminded of the 1980s, when John T. Molloy was the image expert of media choice. Molloy pronounced that all male job applicants should wear either a charcoal pinstripe or navy blue suit. Nothing else would dress them for success!

A cartoon came out showing a line-up of job applicants looking like they’d been turned out of a Xerox machine, all wearing a navy blue suit, white shirt, and red tie—all but one. Of course it stood to reason, that the one who wore a blue shirt and khaki pants was the one who got the job. No wonder! He showed the only individuality of the bunch. He was also, the only one the hiring committee could remember.

The rest is history. If it’s not one uniform, it’s another. The moral of the story, don’t dress like everybody else. And don’t dress like a bum if you want to get the job, do well on the job, and keep the job.

With the bulk of America headed down the tube in a T-shirt, I suggest it would be wise for workers to become more aware of the myriad of wonderful fashion options available to you—before we lose them all because nobody’s buying.
I’m not suggesting a return to stiff suit-dressing. Instead, it’s all about going forward with new fashion options that range from stylish suits worn with white shirts, colored shirts, ties of all colors and patterns—or not. High-quality polo shirts and quality-knit tees may be the choice depending on the roles and goals of the day. If you prefer a great-looking sport coat or leather jacket, you can run down the shirt options all over again. The point is, there are options.

Throughout America, many people are joining ranks in calling for image improvement or reform. As employees push the limits of acceptable workplace attire to new lows, more and more Americans are speaking out. It’s time we upgraded our own personal and professional image.

Expanding his business, an up-and-coming local attorney recently wrote to me saying, “I turned down a number of potential law clerks & legal secretaries who presented themselves more as though they should have been tending bar as opposed to greeting clients on behalf of an international law firm!”

That’s right, skimpy or tight tops and low-riders don’t belong in the business office if business is going to get done. They’re overpowering, distracting from the business of the day. Overalls don’t cut it—even if they are made of velvet. Cute only on children, overalls smack of make-believe down on the farm.

Denim symbolizes rough outdoor work or play, requiring durable fabric. (Teens agree they love to wear jeans because they are “already to play.”) Since the 1950s, denim has also symbolized bein’ cool, rebellious, defiant, and laid-back laziness—just hangin’ out. Wear denim to the interview at your own risk.

Sweats and hooded sweat-shirts belong on the ball field. Flip-flops belong at the pool or the beach. Have you really watched and listened to the “shuffle-slop, shuffle-slop” sound they make when waddling? Slouching toward the water cooler, it’s pretty scary. Trade it all in on a shirt with a collar and slacks. And yes, a mock-T counts as a collar—but just barely.

To the uninitiated, a skirt on a woman is outrageous attire nowadays, let alone wearing stockings. But that’s exactly the personal style of one young woman headed out on job interviews.

Unbeknownst to her, the HR director she was scheduled to meet with had earlier announced that he was “sick to death of female employees in their dirty denim jeans complete with telltale ‘whiskers’ at the crotch!”

“I’ll hire the first woman who walks in here wearing a skirt!” he announced loud and clear.

Sure enough, our lovely lady walked in, the HR director gave her a peck on the cheek and said, “You’re hired!”