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Professional Appearance


Ask yourself this question: “Does your personal image say anything about your competence”?


Often, a first impression is made by your outward appearance and body language before a single word is spoken.  


The perception of a well-groomed and neatly attired person is usually a sign of competence and skill and garners respect.


Once that first impression is made, it is very difficult to change.  This might need a total mind shift to do so.


Your appearance reflects your image.  It reflects your attitude towards your work, your colleagues and yourself.  It influences how you feel, speak and behave.  


When you pay attention to your appearance, you give the impression that you care about what people think.  This will eventually reflect in the quality of the work you present to others and in the way, you deal with people daily.   


What is considered professional workplace appearance?


When you start a new job, it is customary to enquire about the dress code.  A dress code can include anything from the clothing that you wear, shoes, jewelry and accessories to personal hygiene.


You want to make a good impression, but at the same time, you want to fit in and feel comfortable.  For example, if you are going to be standing for 8 hours and assisting customers, it will not be advisable to wear tailored suits and high heeled shoes. While this attire is more suitable if you will be hosting a marketing event for a prestigious investment firm.


Office administrators are generally expected to display a conservative style leaning towards a smart causal look.


Here are some tips for developing a professional image:


  • Dress appropriately, yet comfortably – study your company’s code of conduct for the appropriate dress code. If the company does not have one, ask your manager for advice.


  • Wear clothes that fit the purpose.  A professional knows what is appropriate for the occasion.  Jeans and takkies may be suitable for a braai day, but a smart pants and shirt, or tailored skirt and blouse may be more suitable for daily activities at work.  Black tie would be appropriate for an awards evening for example.





  • Pay special attention to personal hygiene and grooming.


You don’t want to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed. Dirty, unkept hair and nails, excessive makeup, jewelry or tattoos, can reflect poorly on a workplace and may make people feel uncomfortable.


Excessive cologne or perfume can be distracting. This could also be harmful to people who suffer form headaches and allergies.  Invest in subtle fragrances and deodorants.





  • Choose clothing that fits properly.


Clothing that is too tight could be inappropriate and attract unfavourable attention. The last thing you would want is a wardrobe mishap. This could be embarrassing for you and your colleagues.

Clothing that is too loosely fitted could look