“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” I came across this saying on Pinterest this week and I really took it to heart. Not only have I inadvertently been living by this motto ever since I can remember, but it also has so many useful applications in our pursuit of success in and out of the workplace. Your personal appearance is how you are perceived by others and it plays a large part in how far you will go within your company. How you dress for work-related social events also plays a role.
Let’s apply this to Happy Hour. Simple enough, a few of your cohorts are talking by the coffeemaker in the late afternoon and decide that all of you should go out after five. With such short notice, you debate whether to join them, but an opportunity to network outside of the workplace and to get to know your co-workers better is not an opportunity to miss out on. After all, they could be your future boss, you can form lifelong friendships with them, or they could be your future career references. Once you have decided to join in on the Happy Hour festivities, the next question on most women’s minds is “What should I wear?” Or “How do I make what I am currently wearing at the office work after 5?”
I have come up with a set of tried and tested tips:
1) Accessories: Take a mental note of what you currently have on. Is it a suit? Or separates — i.e. skirt and blouse, slacks and blouse, cardigan or combination thereof? Chances are that several of these pieces can be interchanged or livened up by adding some accessories. For example:
- Jewelry – adding a large bold necklace or some bangles
- Belt – changing from a plain belt to a thin gold belt or a large wide belt
- Scarf – adding a bold colored print or an animal print
- Shoes – plain pump to open-toe, higher heel or a bold color
Also note that jewelry, belts, and scarves are small enough that they can easily be kept in your desk or your purse for those unexpected happy hours.
2) Stepping it Up: The saying that you should dress one step up from your current position at the workplace should apply to your After Five dressing. You are not changing into cocktail attire or dressing down into jeans and flip flops. You should view the Happy Hour as a networking opportunity where you can endorse your skills and education. This could potentially land you a new job or promotion.
3) Professional: No change in attire will serve its purpose if you are not well groomed to begin with. Hair and nails should be polished and clothing should be pressed. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to act the part even after work. For example, if you have a blouse on during the day that is tucked, do not un-tuck it if it is wrinkled.
4) Appropriate: Do not wear anything that you would not want your boss to see you in. You want to go into the office the next day with your reputation in tact and you do not want to be your coworkers’ office gossip.
5) Confidence: You can be in expensive clothing but without poise, good posture, a firm handshake, and strong eye contact, you might as well fade into the background. You want to convey the aura of “well put-together” and not “I have been slaving away at my desk all day.” It really is about how you wear it.