Whoever told you “looks don’t matter” lied.

Yesterday I let Girl Ninja paint each of my nails a different color (don’t worry, I still found time to wrestle a pack of wolves and shave my chest hair with a rusted butter knife in between fingers). Check out the finished product…

That’s right. I’m reppin’ the light blue, sparkly gold, hot pink, dark purple, and glittery blue nail polish combo like a straight gangster. I contemplated leaving the nail polish on for life today, but quickly realized that would be terribly embarrassing.

Segue in to today’s topic….

As much as we may hate admitting it, looks matter. Especially in the work place, but if you read my previous article about the costs of being ugly, you’d already know that. Here are a few tips I’ve put together to help you stay ahead of the curve ….

1) Women: Don’t dress slutty. There, I said it. Unless your job title is stripper, prostitute, or backup dancer in a Kanye West music video, cleavage and short skirts just won’t cut it. Cover up! It will earn you respect amongst your female peers and your male coworkers will actually listen to what you say instead of just stare at your….

2) Men: Go easy on the hair gel. I find few things creepier than a dude with greased back hair. I don’t care how nice or expensive your suit is. If you’re hair looks superglued to your head I wont be able to take you seriously. You + Slicked back hair = Pedophile.

3) Mix it up. Don’t be scared to try something new. I’ve been trying to mix it up in the work place as much as possible. After a few days of wearing a white/gray/black dress shirt, I like to throw on my teal one, my purple one, or my lime green one. I never get compliments when it comes to my ‘earth tone’ dress shirts, but every time I put something a little more bold on I get a compliment or two.

4) Don’t smell. You already know I want to punch smelly people in the face, but I feel like it’s important enough to mention again. For the love of all that is holy, please make sure you deodorize, shower, and brush your teeth before coming to work. Don’t be the awkward guy that smells like hot garbage and tuna. On the flip side, you have to be careful you don’t over do it. If you have scented deodorant, scented lotion, and a few squirts of perfume on, no one will want to be around you. In fact, you give us all headaches. Tone it down por favor.

5) Insert your tip here

Alright, I came up with the first four tips, but you have to come up with the fifth. What do you think is the most important thing about appearance in the work place? What would you add to the list? What’s your companies dress code; professional, business casual, or casual? Which nail polish color do you like most….I’m a fan of the light blue, it really brings out my eyes 🙂

31 thoughts on “Whoever told you “looks don’t matter” lied.

  1. Greased-back hair? Greased back-hair would *really* creep me out…

    I would more often than not show up at work with wet hair right out of the shower tucked up in a bun, but I don’t think that was very professional… will have to try not to do that when I am back at work and no longer a grad student in a few months.

  2. My fifth tip would be to keep it simple with accessories. You don’t have to wear bangles up to your elbows, rings on each finger, and earrings the same size as your bangles. Also, get rid of the face piercings. I find it strange when talking to someone and they talk with a lisp because they have a tongue ring. It’s distracting when people have their eyebrows, dimples, lips, and especially those weird chest studs located just beneath the collar bone. Feel free to wear those ornaments at home but please don’t wear them at work!!

  3. For the love of god/money/nature/whatever, guys please wear your pants at your waist with a belt. I cannot take pants on the grounds seriously anywhere, let alone at work. And ditch the sideways baseball cap at work. And if you are a bit on the chunky side, skinny jeans are not for you. Last month I came out of the washroom at work only to spot a co-worker bend over to tie his shoe and was greeted by his hairy ass. I may have to apply for disability due to the psychological trauma.

    Women, your hair should not be a sculpture.

  4. Women: Any heels over three inches belong in a club, not an office. Seriously, seeing professional women tottering around in 5″ heels completely eradicates any modicum of professionalism for me.

    Men: You may work in a casual office, but the difference between a nice polo and a nice button-down is infinite. INFINITE. You can dress down a button-down to be more in-line with your office style, but dressing up a polo isn’t easy. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s an empirical fact that all men look better in button downs!

  5. Preach it brother about the smells – I’m not sure if many of the men and women at my workplace realize that perfume is automatically portion controlled – it’s called ONE SPRAY!! I should not be able to smell you long after you leave my office, the hall, or the bathroom. ugh, the jet wash . . .
    I also realize this totally touchy for tattoo enthusiasts but having a bunch of bright, large tattoos in highly visible areas like your neck, hands, and forearms is really not professional in my opinion. And that also seems to be gaining in popularity in my workplace (a hospital setting).

  6. My company recently switched to a dress policy called “Dress for your Day”. Meaning we are free to wear jeans on days where business casual/suits aren’t needed (big meeting with executives and meetings with customers). They handled the transition really well by sending out a “where this, not that” slide that showed examples. For the most part, people have done a good job.

    So I would add, if your company has a jeans day or work environment that allows jeans, still dress nice. A nice sweater, button-down shirt, or blouse and dark jeans with nice shoes is still best. And adding a blazer or sport jacket is even better. I LOVE wearing jeans to work, but I still look professional.

  7. GUYS: If you are going to keep a beard or a goatee, please keep it neat and trim. The Mountain Man look in a professional office is not going to cut it.

    And I COMPLETELY agree about women dressing more professionally. I try to explain this to my wife all the time. As sad as it is, we have to trade comfort for professional style if we want to be taken seriously.

  8. Don’t smell should be tip number one and there should be smell police at the entrance to every public space. I deal with both types of smellies at my work. The stinky body odour type and the gassing all bystanders with the pail of perfume they are wearing type. They are equally bad.

    Number 5 would be wear a bra. The older you get the more important this is. No matter how hot it is in the summer we still want everyone to wear a bra. All staff wear bras but lots of our senior clients chose to go braless in light summer tops.

  9. My number one tip is more broad: Make an effort.

    I work for a Fortune 500 company, and I cannot tell you how many people look like they got up and came straight to work. I put the odds of them showering at 50/50. This isn’t just the technical crowd, this is management and executives as well. For the love people, make an effort! I know it takes more time in the morning, but it pays off!

    My number two tip is for the guys: Do not wear a white t-shirt/tank/v-neck under a lighter button down shirt. It’s so tacky. If you do, I judge you. If you must wear an undershirt (I’m one of these people), wear one that is skin/nude color. Women have employed this trick with bras for years. Time to step it up, fellas.

  10. It’s tough in the blue collar construction world because these tips don’t always work. It’s nice when dudes dont’ stink on the job, but then again, we’re all lifting stuff and doing physical work all day! Hard not to stink.

    I can say this though, I let my youngest daughter paint my nails pink and sparkly awhile back. She was very excited. I took it off before going to work the next day. It just isn’t right to be hammering out drywall with sparkly fingernails, haha

  11. Women..take it easy on the makeup. If you’re gonna use it please match your fondation to your skin color….How can I take you seriously if I’m staring at an orange face. Leave the techno-colored eyeshadow for evenings or the clubs.

    Men…..don’t pick your nose or fart in the office common spaces. We have 2 bathrooms on our floor..please please please go there to handle your business.

    I am rocking glittery blue nail tips as I type this (as a hobby I do my own acrylic nails) so I go with the blue glitter polish 🙂

  12. Great tips. I work for a Global 500 company, and thus, dress code is professional. Granted it’s not suit and tie, although some men do wear suits, but you should look presentable.

    I try to mix it up with my wardrobe. I have lots of colors clothes 🙂 I hate just wearing black and grey clothes to work. I don’t wear a lot of make up. And I shower every day.

    Looks do matter.

  13. Someone already took mine. Women (not all) need to chill on the makeup. I don’t need you looking like a clown. If you have so much on that it will scare a baby, then it is time to scrape some off.

  14. I 2nd Graduateliving’s note about women’s heels; no more than 3″ in the work place. I work with a woman who typically wears 5″ heels, and she’s got a pretty bad rep around the office. You can tell she’s desparate to hold onto her 20’s… even though she’s in her 40’s… and she needs to cut her waist-length hair that just hangs like a blanket along her back!

    A big nod to the perfume/cologne comments to tone it down! When we know you’re in the office because we can smell you 2 minutes before we see you, you’re wearing WAY too much!!

    Oh, and I’m jonesin’ the glitter polish!

  15. I am into darker tones now, so I have to say the navy blue is hot! Lol.

    My dress place us in between business casual and casual, but I am usually conservative and keep it business casual. I agree with Tip 3 and will try to mix it up..but I’m scared!!

    My tip 5 would be accessorize! A great watch, necklace, ring, bracelet, shoe or tie will do wonders for an outfit, but is also a great conversation starter. And you never know who you’ll bump into that will notice it too. I wouldnt say go crazy with the colors (especially if it doesnt match), but make it unique yet sophisticated.

  16. Make sure your clothing fits: works for both men and women.

    I don’t want to see large swatches of skin exposed that shouldn’t be (or detailed lumps and bumps), and if it’s too big, you look like your wearing your dad’s / mom’s clothes. I learnt this one when my husband lost 50 pounds in a month due to a medical condition: It wasn’t so bad when he was in pijamas. The first day he tried to go back to the office it was brutal. We dropped the cash on new pants, shirts, and a belt very quickly. It was a wise investment.

  17. Hmm…most of these comments dont apply to me. I work in aerospace manufacturing. Im usually sweaty and slightly dirty at the end of my day. I can’t wear jewelry. im usually wearing earmuffs,a dust mask, white jacket (protects you from the fiberglass dust) over my t-shirt and jeans and as well as the standard steel toed boots. I have a fan directed at me all day so my hair is in a pony tail, any other way drives me crazy.If anything I try and choose a color that makes me feel feminine. It doesn’t seem to matter what top you wear as anything with breasts here creates a stir, and all the guys feel they need to comment.

    I get the excessively pierced or tattooed people being judged in an office setting but I find its the older people who complain. Younger people dont seem to care.

  18. I work at a large engineering company, so it’s a sartorial jungle. Can’t go wrong with “dress for success” though. I like to find someone one level higher than me as a base, and someone two levels higher as a stretch, whose professionalism and style I like. Then if it’s Casual Friday and I’m pulling on sneakers in the morning, I think of my +1 and +2 level people and change out the sneaks for smart kitten heels. Because +1 and +2 aren’t wandering around looking like tourists…

    P.S. who stops wearing a bra to work for any reason?? Totally unacceptable. Going topless also airs things out, but also not ok!

  19. Ladies Tip: My go to outfits for work are dresses (short and long sleeve a.k.a shift)! It’s so freakin’ easy and looks like you put forth effort every morning. I always wear mine with black opaque stockings/leggings, heels and a blazer or cardigan.

    Fellas: Please buy more fitted shirt and pants. I’m not saying hipster tight, but I hate how a few co-workers look like they’re wearing their dad’s pants or jacket, it’s like their clothes are gobbling them up. Some people think if they have a bit of weight on them tight is bad, but you actually look more cleaned up and slimmer.

  20. Looks always matter. Not necessarily the way people think. But they always matter. If not to others, than to yourself. And looks doesn’t always mean “good looks”. It could be bad looks. Or strategic looks. Or unique looks. Sounds way too philosophical doesn’t it? But really, I’m someone who doesn’t care much about how I look, but having teens takes care of that – my daughter will quickly let me know if I don’t look goo enough to go out in public 🙂

  21. I’m in software, where most people tend to dress casual or worse, and there’s one programmer who favors a half-way decent shirt, silk ties, filthy jeans, and sloppy loafers. (Not me.) I don’t care so much about appearance, but my number one peeve is people who talk too loud. I work in an office where people are constantly on the phone and there are any number of scream queens who think the only way to talk to customers is at the highest possible volume. And then there’s the guy with the high, nasal voice who talks at the top of his lungs even when he’s sitting two feet away from you at a meeting. I’d take bad makeup or nails any day over people who are terrified they can’t be heard in Idaho.

  22. Huh.

    I have read and enjoyed your blog for a long time, but I think it is a tad hypocritical to revel in women who “dress slutty” over on Manteresting and then judge women for wearing short skirts in the workplace. As one of two women in my workplace, I always dress conservatively, but I find that the bigger problem is that the male co-workers forget that there are 2 women here and they speak way too candidly about their sex lives, picking up women at the bar after work, etc.

    Just something to think about next time you tackle this subject.

    • Hypocritical? You do understand that the pics on Manteresting are not all posts by PDITF don’t you? I don’t think he revels in the women that are there. He seems quite happy with his beautiful wife and keeps his reveling close to home and live and in-person. But then again, I have only been reading his posts for the past few years so maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think I am though….

      • Ugh. This is why I love loyal PDITF readers. They know me so well. Sometimes I’m really proud of the Manteresting community, other times I want to cringe. Doing the best I can to moderate content without forcing my values on others.

        • Even if you did “revel in women who dress slutty” on Manteresting, you wouldn’t be doing it at work!

          Different environments have different rules and standards.

  23. I’m sure someone will say I’m old-fashioned but I think the bars/earrings/studs in the nose, eyebrows, ears, cheeks, lips, neck detract from a professional appearance. In most cases they can be removed for the day then reinstalled after hours.
    As for the nails, go sparkle blue. Sparkles always add a bit of magic.

  24. I work in a quality lab at a manufacturing site, so the safety policy dictates what I wear: no jewelry, no nail polish, long pants, and shoes that cover your entire foot. I’m not too concerned about my clothes underneath since I wear a lab coat and despite this my shirts still get holes or bleached spots on them. Most other people on site wear uniforms or business casual so the only real complaint I have is when certain people smell like BO.

    Funny story, when I interviewed I wore nice heels with a suit. The plant manager took me on a tour of the plant and I could hardly walk during parts of the tour because the floor was metal grating with holes a little smaller than my heels. So my advice to women interviewing at a production plant of some kind, DON’T WEAR HEELS, even if you won’t be working on the production floor. Those nice shoes are not conducive for facility tours.

  25. I agree grooming is important! Little things like bad breath, dirty fingernails or smelling bad can kill an impression fast. Choice of clothes is important too.

  26. Guy in the cubicle next to me clips his fingernails at his desk…. Weekly.

    My husband says there’s one guy at his work who does it too. That is not okay. Can I just start blow drying mohair at my desk because I was too freaking lazy to do it at home?!

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