When we first meet people we judge them within seconds of meeting them – from how successful, capable, creative and intelligent they are to how much money they earn and what car they must be driving.   Your mind is practically made up – and those favourable or unfavourable impressions are often lasting.  Fact is that people judge you similarly.

Wouldn’t it be marvellous to be known as an elegant, confident, intelligent, well-mannered, trustworthy and likable person? Well, the good news is that you can create the image you want – and the image your organisation expects of you.  Management expect their staff’s behaviour and appearance to be in synergy with the organisation’s image and values.  They hire people whom they believe will fit in with their organisation.  It’s in your own best interest to have a good hard look at the image you currently portray.

A new positive image will inject energy and spark into your life and career. It will have a major effect on how you interact with others and it will even affect your bottom line positively because when you feel good about yourself you will attract like-minded people and great business and career opportunities to you.

The secret of a successful image transition is sustainability. You must be willing to get rid of your old clothes, shoes, make up, accessories, behaviour and habits – for good!

It is insulting and offensive to people you live and work with if you don’t care about your appearance. The message you send out is one of disrespect – for yourself and them.  If you always look untidy and your clothes are almost always creased, torn or stained you may ruin your chances at work.  Your appearance and conduct reflects your emotions, mood, energy levels, attitude, professionalism and productivity. When you feel good, you work harder and deliver better quality work.

If you don’t have good dress sense, hire an image consultant. You will be surprised at how little you have to spend for excellent advice.  The way you dress and “brand” your self matters very much. A lot of people have sabotaged themselves in the workplace by the way they dress.

Whatever your company dress code, either stated or implied, follow these simple rules:
  1. It’s ok to be contemporary as long as you don’t become a fashion slave. It is very costly and you may not be taken very seriously at work.
  2. Your clothes should always fit properly. Have your clothes altered if it doesn’t fit well when you buy it to get a fit that looks professional.
  3. Overlooking details such as the right shoes or belts can sabotage the entire effort to look good.
  4. If you work for a more conservative organisation you can use accessories as a way to retain your personal style. Use jewellery like broaches on lapels, shoes, handbags, jackets, jerseys and belts.
  5. Never wear a hat or cap when indoors and remember that business casual does not mean that you can wear a cap to work. Hats and caps are inappropriate in business, unless you are attending a sporting event or outdoor picnic.
  6. Understated elegance is the rule of thumb – for both men and women. Being regarded as elegant is probably one of the most wonderful compliments anyone can give you.
  7. Your shoes must go with the outfit and it must be clean.
  8. Revealing clothing is inappropriate attire for any business contact.
  9. Your dress code and level of formality depends on who you will be interacting with and what role you have to play on the day.
  10. If in doubt, always choose a more conservative look. It’s safe and you can’t go wrong.
  11. Make sure that your clothes are not worn, torn, stained or dirty.
  12. Always make sure that your business attire fits your title and job.
  13. Dress for the job you want! Dress for success!
  1. Ensure that your nails are always clean and in excellent condition. Ladies should rather have short nails or no nail varnish than long nails with chipped nail polish. If you want to be taken seriously at work and with your clients, your nails should not be too long and you should not wear nail accessories. Stick to a more natural look for your nails, such as a subtle French manicure rather than red varnish.
  2. Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance. Cleanliness is a minimum requirement! Bath or shower every day – and please use soap. Be sure to wash your hair regularly and keep it in good condition. Have regular hair-cuts to trim off any dead or split ends.
  3. Men should be clean shaven otherwise their moustache or beard should be neatly trimmed. Side-burns should not extend below the bottom of the ear. Hair should not be longer than the top of your shirt collar.
  4. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Never leave home without brushing your teeth and if your teeth are stained or you have lost some, have it fixed as soon as possible. It is a huge turn-off to talk to someone who has teeth missing, damaged or badly stained. There are wonderful teeth-whitening products on the market and it doesn’t cost the earth. Most dentists offer a teeth-whitening service today along with professional cleaning, which should be done every six months or so.
  5. If you have a problem with body odour you simply must ensure that it doesn’t spoil your chances at work. The opposite sex will also lose interest in you. Take steps to prevent any unpleasant situation from arising. If you perspire a lot, make sure that you use an excellent antiperspirant. If you suffer from halitosis (bad breath) a visit to your dentist is essential, because it may be caused by a bad tooth, which can only be fixed by a dentist. It is very difficult to work or live with someone who suffers from bad breath and it is very easy to treat. If your teeth are not the problem, then you need to visit your GP since there may be something else wrong – like constipation. Do not wish it away – it won’t disappear by itself. You are bound to make matters worse if you leave it too long. Another body odour that will get progressively worse if left is smelly feet. It is the result of bacteria accumulating on the feet and in your shoes and socks. A lot of people don’t scrub their feet because they don’t look dirty! The truth is that unless you scrub your feet very well and dry them properly the bacteria will remain and grow. You also need to spray your shoes with a proper foot disinfectant to prevent new outbreaks of smelly feet. Discard your sock if they’re old and buy new ones. They are cheap enough for almost anyone to afford at least five pairs – and wear a clean pair every day. The same goes for underwear and shirts. Don’t even consider wearing the same pair twice!
  6. If you are over-weight you should consider a change of life-style and a fitness programme. Join a gym – exercise is a wonderful anti-dote for stress as well.
  7. If you have a problem skin, see a dermatologist (skin specialist). There are great treatments available today and you are needlessly allowing your self-confidence to take a knock.
  8. Thin your eye-brows if they are too thick and trim your nose and ear hairs.
  9. Do not wear a strong aftershave, body spray or perfume to the office. Wear a subtle, light spray to work and remember to avoid cheap perfume. Rather go without.
  10. Never wear too much make-up to work. If you are not sure how to apply your make-up, consult an expert for advice. Remember the more natural you look, the better.
  11. Most organisations do not approve of fashion statements like outrageous hairstyles and hair colour, beards, moustaches. Visible body piercing or tattoos should be completely covered.
  12. If you colour your hair, make sure that you re-touch the roots every four to six weeks. A re-growth will most certainly damage your image.
  13. Ladies, remember to shave your legs and under your arms. Remove any unsightly facial hair by waxing, or have laser treatment.
  14. Make sure that your hairstyle suits you and is relatively fashionable.
  15. Guys, if you are balding don’t try to hide it! Rather cut your hair very short – it’s fashionable. Don’t even think of growing the one side long to comb it over the bald patch – and rather don’t wear a toupee. Believe it or not, they are quite easy to spot.
  16. Don’t try to make a statement with strange hair-styles – it’s the easiest way to make a really bad impression.
  17. Ladies may need to confine hair below shoulder length to add to their new professional image.
  18. If you must have hair extensions or wigs, make sure that they are of high quality and that it is done by a professional hair-dresser. Dreadlocks are frowned upon in business. If you must have dreadlocks make sure that your hair is spotlessly clean and tied back in a ponytail for work. Bad hair is just that – bad.