Over the past few years, there has been a drastic change in the dress standards expected for professionals. Often, because of the relaxed attitudes, however, individuals tend to under dress to the point that clients lose respect for the professional. You do not have to spend a lot of money on your appearance but there are a number of basic things that you can do to ensure that you are appearing in a professional manner:
1. Hair - Although it seems to make common sense to have clean and attractively styled hair this practice is not always observed. It is true that first impressions are lasting. Your clients, whether you like it or not, will be judging you and may not be prepared to work with someone who is not well groomed - especially if you are in the food or health professions.
2. Odour - Many times I have found it difficult to work with a professional who has bad breath or strong body odour. A shower and tooth brushing only takes a few minutes but can make all the difference in the way that you present to your clients.
3. Clothing - Clothing that has stains, holes or leaves embarrassing gaps that reveal too much of you should not be worn. If you have financial problems and cannot afford a lot of options, you might find that having one good outfit that you can launder regularly or a jacket that you can wear will solve this. When you do buy clothing, stay on one colour palette so that you can mix and match items.
4. Accessories - When you use scarves, ties or jewellery in a creative way you present yourself in an interesting way. A briefcase is much more professional than carrying an armful of loose papers.
5. Shoes - Make sure that you have shoes that are comfortable and professional looking. Loafers do not project an imagine of professionalism nor do open-toed shoes.
It does not cost a lot of money to be clean and attractive. It does, however, take planning and creativity. Perhaps you could have a friend with skills in this area go shopping with you.
It is really better to have one or two outfits that you wear over and over because they are suited for you and the office than to have a number of inappropriate choices that do not convey the image that you want others to see and enjoy.