I walked into a room of people wearing suits, ties and high heels. I was wearing my best, most tasteful dress for the evening. I had my hair done up, earrings in and a slight bit of perfume. Then, I saw her. She was wearing the shortest dress I’d seen in years. It wasn’t just short on the bottom, but looked like someone ran out of material when they were making the dress. She was evidently uncomfortable. No wonder. That kind of outfit is for the nightclub, not a public relations networking event. She was the center of attention, but not in a good way. Everyone would talk about her behind her back. They would whisper as she walked by. They would stare. Actually, they would glare.
Why was wearing this dress such a big deal? It mattered so much because there is a certain way to dress in the field of public relations. In all reality, there is a general code of dress for any business event in the professional world. However, in public relations, where our job centers on the perception of the company, we should be aware of the way others perceive us. One article rightly reminded that the way we dress impacts the way people view us. The way you dress at an event shows your level of respect. Your outfit is a representation of you, but as Neil Kokemuller pointed out, it’s also a representation of the company you represent. That young lady in the revealing dress was not giving her company a good representation. I’ve seen many tips for what to wear at a business event, but here are the one’s I’ve found most advantageous.
- Dress fashionably, but conservatively.
You are not at this event to pick up someone to take home. You are here as a professional to network and enjoy the evening. You don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. One article went so far as to say, “Modesty is a virtue.”
- Bring an extra bag of rescue items.
My professor gave me this excellent advice. These rescue items aren’t what you’d find in a fire engine. These are items that will save you in the case that your panty hose rip, or your seam tears. It not only keeps you from getting embarrassed, but will give you an added level of security.
- Don’t wear too much perfume or makeup.
I don’t know if they forgot to take a shower and are wearing it for cover, or if they just have no sense of smell, but I have been to too many events where the ladies have worn too much perfume. I do not enjoy talking with ladies who smell like they walked out of Hollister. Not necessarily because of the Hollister perfume, although that is also terrible. Rather, they are wearing so much. It is distracting. When I talk with someone, I want to listen to what they’re saying rather than concentrating on how much they’ve overwhelmed my nose. One author wrote, “Someone should not be able to smell you unless they come in for a hug.” Just a small amount should suffice for the entire evening. If you’re worried about it fading, just bring it with you in that emergency kit and reapply. Warning: only reapply if you really need to.
When it comes to makeup, there is an entire list of ways you should and shouldn’t wear makeup in the professional field. For example, the Huffington Post has an article with 12 tips. You can read it for yourself, but I’ll mention my three favorites. First, don’t wear something fake, like fake eyelashes. Second, keep your nails trimmed and clean. This also means that nail polish should be chip-free. Last, make sure it doesn’t look like you caked on makeup. It also helps to wear makeup that matches your skin tone. I cannot stand it when I see someone with a foundation line because it doesn’t match their skin color.
- Don’t wear too much jewelry.
When ladies wear lots of bracelets, huge necklaces, or ginormous earrings, it looks gaudy. Just like the perfume, it is distracting. Instead of looking at your face, or listening to what you’re saying, people are staying at your ornaments. A tasteful amount of jewelry is best. Tasteful means a small amount, just in case you were wondering.
There are a plethora of other tips available on the Internet. If you are unsure of what is and is not appropriate, I encourage you to go look up a few articles. Although it may seem shallow, what you wear and how you appear to people in the physical makes a large impression. Ask yourself what kind of impression you want to leave. Then, make decision on what to wear based on that desired impression. Just remember, err on the side of caution.