I attended a networking event last Friday late afternoon. I was one of 15 vendors to have a show and tell table and it went very well. Over 100 business people attended the event.
I came home rather puzzled, though. I was somewhat surprised at the way some people dressed, especially those representing their businesses at the show and tell tables. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I did not understand why someone would come to a late afternoon event representing their businesses wearing the clothing one would wear to a picnic or to watch their kiddo play soccer on a Saturday morning.
What really made this strange was that last Friday was the day after the news broke about Sarah Palin's $150k image makeover price tag. Whether one agrees campaign funds should have been spent or not, or whether that much should have been spent or not, whatever ... the bottom line was that there was a perceived need to have Ms. Palin look more vice-presidential. Unique thought? I don't think so.
Personally, when I heard the news, I secretly was clicking my heels with excitement. It was bringing to national focus the concept that image dressing does matter and for someone like myself, who designs accessories for the businesswoman, that is a good thing.
I know business attire has changed over the decades, "business casual" dominates the scene in a lot of arenas, but business casual does not equal jeans + t-shirt + sneakers.
There seems to be three basic categories of business attire: casual, conservative or formal, and cocktail. In my line, I have different pieces for the different settings. And there are pieces that could fit in any of the settings, like the necklace above. Because it is made of fire-polished Czech glass faceted roundel beads, there is enough bling it could stand up to any cocktail setting. But when worn under a tailored blouse that has a collar with the three strands peeking out from the v-line of the blouse opening, it would look fabulous with a jacketed suit that is the conservative assemble, or the blouse that is worn with casual slacks in the casual setting.
Any way you slice it, what we wear to any situation says a lot about how we feel about that situation. Being well-dressed and groomed for business says "I am confident" and gives the impression of authority and validity, which are critical for success. When someone comes to me in a business setting well-dressed and groomed, not only are they making that statement about themselves, they are also telling ME that I am worthy of their respect. That's a good feeling.