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Today most of us go to work dressed professionally, and certainly more comfortable than those who might’ve been working 40 years ago. But, how did we go from strictly suits, ties and dresses in the workplace to the business casual attire we all know today? Better yet, how did the modern office come to adopt the idea of casual Fridays?

In 1962, The Hawaiian Fashion Guild was on a mission to make the Hawaiian shirt acceptable in the office, at least on Fridays. The argument was that, because of the hot climate, this would be a more comfortable option for employees. In an effort to increase the Hawaiian garment industry and help the economy, they even encouraged the local government to adopt the idea of “Aloha Friday”. By the late 1960s, thanks to toned down patterns and colors, Hawaiian shirts were becoming acceptable every day of the week.

In the early 1990s, the mainland started to catch on to the idea. There was a small recession and many companies wanted inexpensive ways to offer more benefits to employees and raise company morale. In a short amount of time, many companies across the United States began adopting the idea and “Casual Friday” was born. While some did not necessarily want employees coming to work in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, they were struggling to define this casual dress code.

In 1992, Levi’s recognized this challenge and saw an opportunity to help define “Casual Friday” while marketing their own clothing. They created a campaign and a brochure called “A Guide to Casual Business”. This brochure was sent all across the United States and included images of the all infamous Dockers. Since their campaign, Dockers have become a staple of many business casual wardrobes, as well as other styles from the Levi’s brand.

Present day, most companies have adopted business casual as an everyday dress code to boost morale, allowing employees to feel more comfortable in the workplace while still looking professional.

Here at HON, we’ve transformed our “Casual Fridays” into an opportunity to give back to the community. Our members vote on their favorite charities and donate money to wear jeans on the last day of the week.  How do you define a “business casual dress code” in your workplace?

working day in office. two businessmen at work.

Professionalism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” While many professional characteristics are unique to the industry in which they apply, some cover all professionals. Check out our short list of qualities below that outline what it means to pursue professionalism:

Build your Personal Brand

What makes you, you? Are you a go-getter who always takes the extra step, or perhaps the dependable coordinator of all things process improvement? Whatever your personal brand is, build this into a recognizable reflection of who you are – thereby establishing your reputation and identity as a business person. Become known for your positivity or forward-thinking – in the long haul, you’ll open up opportunities for yourself for different projects or even a promotion!

Dress for Success

Cliché, I know. But one thing that’s not cliché – a first impression. When meeting someone for the first time, there’s quite a bit to be taken from personal appearance. Paint yourself in a positive light! If you show up to a business meeting in tennis shoes and well-worn jeans, odds are that you might lose that big project to the business professional in a pant suit. When presenting, a common rule is to dress a level above your audience. Pack up those old painting jeans and trade them in for a new suit!

Komm. Comun. Communikation.

Grabs your attention, doesn’t it? A pet peeve of self-proclaimed grammar nerds across the globe, spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues occasionally make a dreaded appearance in professional communication. As with any communication, whether it’s a personal email or company press release, communication is marketing. Every email, every phone call, and every interaction builds an image of you. With this comes an important role: protecting and building your company’s image. When communicating, make sure to be effective, persuasive, and clear. When in doubt, use the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How)!

Know a thing or two about what it means to be a professional? Share your tips with us below!

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Legendary fashion designer Tom Ford once said, “dressing well is a form of good manners.” How does that apply to the office? Here are 5 tips for putting your best fashion foot forward in the workplace:

  1. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Want to be a manager someday? Take note of how members of leadership are dressed, and then emulate their style.
  2. HON headquarters is in Muscatine, IA. With winter fast approaching and temperatures in single digits, dressing for the season is a must. In Iowa, this usually means adding fun accessories to your wardrobe, such as a scarf, and wearing stylish yet practical footwear. Be mindful of the weather and dress accordingly – no matter where you live.
  3. When in doubt, overdress. After all, you never know when you’ll be pulled into a meeting with leadership wishing you’d put more effort into your appearance. Your self confidence will get a boost just knowing that you look great.
  4. On that note – be conservative. Being noticed for your work ethic and overall poise is good; being noticed for your flashy clothes is not. Stick with classic lines and colors to be noticed in the right way.
  5. But, don’t be afraid to infuse your own style and personality into your outfit when appropriate. A funky pattern or statement piece can strike up a conversation and show your individuality. One of the things I love about working at HON is being able to showcase my personal style every day.

What are some of your favorite fashion tips for the workplace?

Fashion pic

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