- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

Respecting yourself and others around you are key to earning it. Having high personal standards of performance, being a team-player, keeping open lines of communication, and utilizing the technique of responsive listening with your co-workers and superiors are all steps in the right direction. As significant for reaching your goals is what you see in the mirror. Yes, as unfair as it may seem, you are judged and rewarded, or not, by the appearance you present in the office.

Casual workdays have opened new doors, while lowering dress standards in some companies. New trends in attire can be exciting and fun. You’ll surely want to incorporate some parts of them into your workday wardrobe. It’s all good, as long as you give a good deal of consideration as to what is appropriate for your specific situation.

Updated pieces, like a new purse, belt and shoes, or a fresh-look scarf and current-style jewelry do wonders for sharpening your look. Combining the fresh accessory with a more traditionally professional outfit can add that “hip” note you’re seeking. This will help you achieve a sense of individuality, without pushing you over the top. Save the sports fan and club looks for after hours, if you want to be taken seriously during business hours.

Something else to think about would be your own workspace. It’s an extension of your personality, so do add your personal touches, but always in moderation and in keeping with the company’s overall look. A clean and organized desk and shelves show the world that you are an organized worker, who can handle whatever is expected of you without having to scramble for the pertinent data needed.

If you want to get ahead, use your head! Don’t go to extremes in dressing, keep it smart, stylish and professional. Make your office reflect your “I can do it all!” attitude. Show others the respect you would like them to show you. When you combine these rules with ambition, drive and a good work ethic, the sky is the limit!

Reader Response

From Shield Q: I have a suggestion for the woman with a charm bracelet. After a wrist injury, my mother found she could no longer wear her charm bracelet. She found a necklace with similar links, attached it to the bracelet, and wore it around her neck. When she decided she liked this look, she had her jeweler remove the clasps and re-position some of the charms. The necklace now slips over her neck - a plus for people who struggle with clasps. No more noise, less wear and tear, and close to the heart! -

Dear Jen:

I am growing out my blond highlights and unless I chop off my hair I will have to withstand the half & half look. Even when washed and curled it has an unprofessional look. Any ideas?

Maggie — Herndon

Dear Maggie:

Lessen your highlights in stages to reach your goal but maintain an attractive look. Go from 30% down to 20% and then to 10% blonde. Go gradual to be less conspicuous.

Dear Jen:

I am big at the bottom and the “Annie Hall” look has worked wonders. Can I still get away with this? Lynne - Gaithersburg

Dear Lynne:

If you want to update your look, read through the newest fashion magazines and check out online websites that showcase the latest trends paying attention to pictures of others with the same “shape” and what looks great on them! There are so many happening styles out there, you needn’t stay stuck in a time warp!

Dear Jen:

My office is mostly “under 40” but I am in my mid-50s and look it. Should I color my hair?

Daniel -Laurel

Dear Daniel:

If it will make a difference in how you carry yourself and if it makes you feel more confident, sure why not. But, unlike women, you can usually tell when a man colors his hair. Being older has its advantages — and lots of us think “salt and pepper” is very attractive.

Dear Jen:

I am interning at a law firm and my small paycheck is going to my books for next semester. My clothes are jeans — is it okay to buy 3 dresses and keep rotating? Barbara - Great Falls

Dear Barbara:

Rotating is good but try breaking it up a little. Instead of 3 dresses, I suggest, 1 dress, 1 skirt, 1 dress pant and 4 tops. This way you can rotate the same pants with a different top two to three times a week without anyone noticing.

Jennifer Silano Foy is President of eFashion Solutions, LLC (www.efashionsolutions.com) and has been a consultant in the fashion industry for more than 10 years. Send workplace or corporate fashion questions to [email protected]

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