I Don'T Wear A Suit!

I Don'T Wear A Suit!

by Victoria A. Seitz Ph. D.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781463468316
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 09/07/2011
Pages: 172
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.37(d)

Read an Excerpt

I Don't Wear A Suit!

A guide to style for ALL OF US
By Victoria A. Seitz


Copyright © 2011 Victoria A. Seitz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4634-6831-6

Chapter One

Looking Good IS Important

We are a very visual society! With YouTube and the variety of entertainment shows, gossip magazines as well as the hundreds of reality programs, we give a lot of clout to what we see. As someone in the advertising and marketing industry, I'd say that exposure on television is where it's at. With over 500 channels we have a lot to watch! Today, trends and fads get the majority of their forward motion via the media either through TV or the Internet, both being visual in nature. And because of this influence, media personalities and marketers use clothing to impact the audience in a positive manner. For you, the influence you have with others is also enhanced through the visual signals you emit. This is referred to as Attribution Theory.

Attribution Theory

Human beings subconsciously (or perhaps unconsciously) size up other people, places and things during first encounters based on very little information. Attribution Theory states that for human beings to function in a society where we face a barrage of stimuli constantly, we need to be able to categorize it quickly and do so on limited information. It's kind of like organizing your computer files, putting all the files in various folders as well as the recycle bin. Or think about all the emails you receive – some you read, some you delete, and some you save for later. That's how we, as human beings, can simplify our lives and move on.

So understanding this mental process, what are the nonverbal messages or cues that human beings use to categorize people who they encounter on a daily basis? Some of these factors include the clothes worn, mannerisms, body image, and overall appearance. Everything about a person communicates messages about them. For example, if you see someone and they have acne, you might infer that they're young, maybe a teenager. If we see someone with glasses, perhaps we might infer that they're smart (or want to be) or do a lot of reading. If we see a woman covering her head in a certain way, we may infer that she is a member of a particular religion or from another culture. Again, we make inferences about people on very little information, and this subsequently influences how we interact with them.

This is why so much consideration is given to appearance. The sum of the factors – such as clothing, body language, mannerisms, hair and body type, which constitute a person's appearance and together may be considered beautiful and favorable in the eye of the beholder – subsequently promotes interaction between individuals. In fact, appearance is about 55 percent of the evaluation in first impression situations. Frankly, in the first 3-4 seconds, people size up those they meet on all the cues that are available. All of this is done before we ever say hello! And once that happens, we also assess whether what they say fulfills those expectations or breaks them. As they say, first impressions count and are so critical in the workplace, in interviews, and on first dates!

Further, in 30 seconds, people make at least 11 assumptions about you – including your occupation, social status, marital status, trustworthiness, credibility, ancestry and (most important) your likelihood to succeed! Everyone wants to be around a winner! In job interviews, about 75 percent of the decision to hire you is based on your appearance. The actual interview itself is about whether you fulfill the expectations set when you both first saw each other. Additionally, there is an 8 to 20 percent difference in the entry salary you receive based on your appearance. Maybe you look like a person that the company wants to invest in and maybe you don't – it's up to you!

All across the world, there are distinct definitions of what is beautiful. What is beautiful in one country may be perceived as ugly in the next. Why is beauty so important? It seems that most people associate with what is beautiful with what is good. There has been a lot of research on this topic with these same findings. For example, a study done in measuring student success found that students who were perceived as "beautiful" were also perceived to be smarter and more inclined to succeed in school. Outward beauty is defined by a culture and it drives companies to offer many products and services to enhance it.

Moreover, research has shown that people are attracted to others that dress like them. Often, someone's appearance infers their political beliefs, values and attitudes. Let's say you are interviewing for a position at Saks Fifth Avenue. Do you look like a Saks Fifth Avenue employee or someone from Walmart? You decide – do you want to look the part?

Further Considerations

It's important to realize that impressions can be broken. For example, if we have little experience working with persons with disabilities, we may hold negative impressions based on individuals' outward physical disabilities. Yet when we get to know disabled people, we could find that they are brilliant and wonderful to work with. Or maybe you meet someone and extend a hand, and they take it, but they give you a very weak handshake. This may be due to problems with arthritis, but you might assume they are a meek person. Or perhaps you're trying to do business with someone from another country, say Japan. You're frustrated because they don't give you eye contact. Well, in many Asian countries, eye contact is perceived as inappropriate and where they do look might be your forehead. As with first impressions, nothing is in stone; however, we want to put our best foot forward.

When we get to know someone, appearance becomes less important as the relationship flourishes. Think about the dating scene. For a while, you will look your best for each encounter. Then, over time, both of you will begin to relax your ways as other aspects of the relationship become more important. It's almost as if appearance sets the stage for a potential relationship.

This "relaxing with time" also applies to the business setting; however, there is an important difference. Although we may work with our officemates day in and day out, a business usually has new clients or customers entering the picture on a regular basis. Given this, your appearance remains critical to the business's continued success, and this is why many firms have dress policies.

Role Theory

Another theory that operates successfully in the workplace is Role Theory. Basically, the theory states is that when we see someone in a uniform – perhaps in a military uniform – we will conduct ourselves in a manner respectful of it. In addition, the person wearing the uniform will usually take on the role associated with it, such as a military officer. Often, companies will have its employees wear a uniform in part because of this theory. Also, this policy helps the company maintain their brand image and saves employees money on their clothing budget! Many companies, such as hospitals, airlines, and restaurants, have addressed the issue of appearance by mandating uniforms.

Role Theory also relates to how we dress for work outside the realm of a uniform. Many companies that introduced a casual dress code found that they had to revoke the privilege because employees took it too far. Not only did it sabotage the company's brand image but the change affected employee performance, too. Generally, when there is a lack of consideration regarding our dress for work, there is also a lack of professionalism in performance in our work. It impacts the quality of our interactions with our peers, customers and coworkers as well.

Although you may dislike the employee dress policy at your workplace, think about this. Inasmuch as you are trying to reinforce YOUR brand image through your appearance and mannerism so is a business. A brand's image is critical to a company's success. We buy BRANDS of products and services based on the image or the meaning of the brand to us. Therefore, businesses try to control all aspects of their brand, including the contact points that involve employees. If the brand name is important to you, then you can understand why companies try to manage their brand all the way down to their employees. If bank employees wore their favorite jeans, would you really think they know what they're doing in trying to execute your house loan? There is a reason businesses want us to dress for work.

Being Your Best

We're all individuals and it's important to communicate that. Yet, when working and dealing with people who come from different backgrounds and experiences, we go beyond our peer group and need to keep this in mind when getting dressed. Most of us recognize the value of individuality and therefore the definition of what is appropriate for work is rather open; however, we don't want to totally ignore the significance of the clothes we choose.

Many of us are established in our profession and perhaps have a reputation. It's important to maintain that positive reputation in all associations, either with clients, prospects, employers, coworkers and employees. Looking your best shows respect for others and makes you feel good. Think about it ... if you show up in your sweats to a business meeting, what would that communicate to prospective clients, customers, employees or coworkers? You may be an expert in your field; however, it's still important to connect with others and communicate your expertise instantly.

Looking good, appearing professional, and communicating your individuality is possible without being a fashion expert. When I was a fashion coordinator at Burdines, now Macy's, the navy blue suit was it for work; however, things have changed dramatically. We are not relegated to a prescription regarding what to wear. Moreover, developing your own style is paramount in business because it communicates your leadership ability and your capacity to take risks.

By using the guidelines presented in this book, you can develop that look that says you and only you. The right look will also build a bridge with those you deal with in your business. In the chapters that follow, we'll cover options for you to be the best you can be in this new business environment. Since men and women have different needs, we will address those separately so you can focus on the areas of concern to you.

Have fun!

Chapter Two

The New Continuum of Dressing for Success

The workplace has become a kinder, gentler place regarding what to wear. However, as mentioned earlier, that does not mean that dress is not important. Your level of professionalism, expertise, and likelihood to succeed is communicated first and foremost in your appearance, with a large part of this being made up by what you select to wear. The fact that "suits" are not required for a lot of businesses does not equate with tattered jeans and a T-shirt. The clothes we saw in workplace scenes in the movie, The Social Network, are not business as usual; instead, work apparel is different than clothing worn for socializing with your friends.

So the more relaxed atmosphere of work and the many wardrobe options available to us are often givens. Based on this truth, here is a new approach that will help guide you on what exactly should constitute your work wardrobe. Today's formula presents a continuum of possibilities based on the culture of the business, where you are based, and your profession/occupation. For instance, wearing a suit in my Southern California town is not very common; people are just more casual here. Perhaps your company's culture is also more relaxed rather than traditional, so a suit may not be necessary.

However, whether you are a man or woman, note that the suit (matching jacket and bottom) is NOT dead and it is appropriate in select situations and fields such as law. Still, in many instances, having the option of wearing a jacket or a blazer will elicit the same professionalism and not be deemed too formal for your business environment such as teaching or marketing. Finally, as an individual established in your career or in high-tech organizations, there are avenues for dressing which are considered appropriate for work that don't mandate a suit or a jacket and jeans are ok. Yet, realize that when it comes to a job interview, most times a suit (including a tie for men) is the best option.

I have broken down this continuum of work apparel into three distinct categories, and in this chapter, I will describe each and how they function. The categories are:

1. Suits required

2. Jackets optional

3. Jeans permitted

You say, JEANS?! Yes, in many businesses, jeans are OK. Further, given that denim has come a long way regarding fabrication, denim trousers are quite acceptable when jackets are optional. The dress continuum ranges from very traditional to very relaxed contemporary business attire. However, no matter what your profession or job might be, dressing for work each morning requires some thought as to the appropriate look for day ahead. Let's investigate this further.

Suits Required

This category is the most formal of the three categories along the continuum. In these cases, a suit is required at the workplace and usually for men a tie may be expected as well. Some professions – such as law, banking and finance – would more than likely require a suit, as well as a corporate culture that is more traditional and formal. Furthermore, where you live has an impact, too. When living in a major metropolitan city, such as New York or London, your workplace would be more inclined to require suits.

A suit communicates a formal and professional appearance with a matching top and bottom. When suits are required though there can be other options that are just as appropriate – such as blazers for men. For women, there are blazers, as well as short and long jackets, that can be worn with a skirt, pants or over a dress. Let's consider the options for men and then for women. Bottom line is when suits are required the mainstay of your wardrobe will be suits.

For Men: If the workplace requires a suit, consider building your wardrobe around a single suit and then adding blazers that coordinate – particularly if you're just getting started. For example, beginning with a grey suit, you can add a navy blazer and a camel sport coat. A navy blazer can be paired with khaki, olive, camel, taupe or light gray slacks, plus jeans for your casual time. Now you have access to a multitude of blazers to choose from to build your wardrobe without investing in suits all the time. There are blazers in raw silk and in linen, besides the basic wool. Plus, there are a wide variety of easy-care fabrics such as Tencel and polyester blends that are also suitable.

The suit and tie is the ultimate in formal business attire, and it communicates instant expertise. Further, a suit and tie often is expected by those in certain industries as well as by the clients they serve.

When it comes to this category, conservative is best. Focus on established fabrics and patterns, such as tweed, herringbone, gabardines in solids and subtle patterns such as pin and chalk stripes. Glenn plaids rather than scotch plaids are better when the business mandates a suit because it's expected and established in business. However, building from your selection of suits you might even consider getting a black blazer, either in a double- or single-breasted style, since black is considered a neutral, and it therefore goes with a lot in your wardrobe.

Choose established silhouettes regarding suits, sport coats and blazers such as American and European cuts. For this category, being a fashionista is not the focus. Jackets in bulky fabrics, novelty colors and textures and with a lot of designs are not appropriate. You'll want the jacket to land below your derriere and to fit correctly. Choose a blazer or coat that is lined and offers a traditional fit, including set-in sleeves and tailored-notched collar lapels. A single-breasted jacket can have two to three buttons and the width of the lapels may vary depending on current fashion trends. Accessories for this category include kerchiefs in the breast pocket, leather belts, and shoes, as well as subtle pattern hosiery. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum.


Excerpted from I Don't Wear A Suit! by Victoria A. Seitz Copyright © 2011 by Victoria A. Seitz. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction: It's a New World Out There!....................xv
Chapter 1: Looking Good IS Important....................1
Chapter 2: The New Continuum of Dressing for Success....................7
Chapter 3: Workplace Dress 101: Getting Started....................17
Chapter 4: The 9 to 5 Dilemma....................27
Chapter 5: If Work Goes Beyond Five O'Clock....................37
Chapter 6: Travel Light and Right....................43
Chapter 7: The Foundation of Style....................51
Chapter 8: Make Color Work for You....................59
Chapter 9: Maximize Your Assets, Minimize Your Liabilities....................67
Chapter 10: Create Impact with Accessories....................75
Chapter 11: Take Care of Your Investment....................87
Chapter 12: Skin Deep....................97
Chapter 13: Good Quality, The Right Fit....................107
Chapter 14: A Word to Employers....................117
Chapter 15: It's More Than Just the Clothes You Wear....................123
Selected Bibliography....................143

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