For approximately one year, I have been torn rather or not to openly discuss this topic or rather to just stay confined in my own world and not involve myself with the image of others. Should the image of a successful event professional be displayed in their outer appearance? Does it prohibit the professional from performing his or her task or conducting business? Does Outward Image + Job Capabilities/Talent = Successful Professional? These are the questions that I ponder in my mind as I travel through this vast and colorful event industry that is so ever-changing and has an endless diversity of culture and art. I have become associated and established wonderful relationships with talented persons in the industry in which their work or service that they deliver is impeccable, however, if I/You were to judge them by their look before getting to know them, it makes me stop and wonder – should I or should I not engage? There is the saying, “never judge a book by its cover, ” – meaning know what’s behind the cover before you make your final decision.
Let’s take a moment to define or study the meaning of “professional image”. During my research, I found the following variations that surrender to the same core definition. (A) “Professional image is the image that one projects about themselves based upon appearance and reputation. Image can be conveyed as professional by the way that you dress, the way you speak, the way you respond to others, and the way that others speak about you.” (B) “The constellation of tangible or visible representations and/or perceptions resulting from a person’s conduct as a professional, linked to ethical behavior and competence.” (C) “Impression projected by a person engaged in a profession, consisting of outward appearance and conduct exhibited on the workplace.” (D) “Professionals look the part – they don’t show up to work sloppily dressed, with unkept hair. They’re polished, and they dress appropriately for the situation. Because if this, they exude an air of confidence, and they gain respect for this.”
The four statements above relating to the “professional image” highlights on several key words – polished, respect, perception, competence, and confidence. These are all key words and characteristics that I target in persons that I engage in business and present to my clients to assist in producing wonderful moments for our mutual clients. With a couple of exceptions to these key traits, I have had the opportunity to come in contact with persons in which outward appearance or their professional image is not a visible priority. Which makes me stop and wonder – what level of performance or degree of professional service will they provide to me and my client? In hindsight, there have been those that are not focused on outward appearance that are highly talented and their work is impeccable. I know that I am not the only individual that has encountered or has felt this way about this dilemma of the outward appearance of event/wedding professionals. Which my recent conversation with an event professional about this particular topic encouraged me to write this blog. The blog is not here to criticize or to be crude. I want to provide insight to someone out there that may be in need of professional advice regarding the self-image that is a direct correlation to the image of their business. The self-image can either hinder or dramatically improve a person’s relationship with their clients or with other colleagues in the industry, and more importantly give their business the ability to grow and to eliminate others second guessing their capabilities. The self-image that is worn on the outside let’s the world know that you are confident in yourself, your work, and that you are a trailblazer!
We as event/wedding professionals should all care about our self-image. We as an industry should always be there to support, coach, and champion each other. To summarize the article regarding “Professional Image”, I have listed some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to consider for anyone that may want to take the challenge to improve their outward appearance. These suggestions are not to have you go out and spend erratically on designer clothing or to be outrageous in your choices. The list below is to provide you with the opportunity to examine yourself in a different way and to organize yourself to achieve.
- Groom & Maintain the Crown – Always keep your Crown (your hair/hair-style) groomed. Ladies, if you know that you are going to perform long hours, strenuous work, or the climate is not in your favor, you can still be sophisticated and professional with a nice hair bun or pin a french roll. Gentlemen, keep a nice and sensible hair cut and for those that wear it long, tie the hair in a confined and well groomed pony tail. Constantly maintain the crown for freshness and vitality – wash your hair weekly or daily based on your ethnic background.
- Talk with the Hands – Ladies and gentlemen both should maintain the appearance of the next thing that they use to communicate with others, their hands. Do self manicures or if you have the time or budget have a professional manicure to provide your hands and nails with the proper love they deserve. They will certainly appreciate the weekly or bi-weekly grooming, and you will appreciate it also.
- Freshly Pressed – Make sure that from your shirt/sweater to your jacket to your belt to your pants, that they are all wrinkle free and look fresh and crisp. During your downtime take approximately an hour to sharply iron your clothes or transport to your local dry cleaners.
- The Fashion – Dress according to your profession and to your gender. Whether it is the business suit or causal business attire such as khaki pants and a polo shirt, or a having a synchronized team wearing the company shirt. You should always reflect the image of your business. Always consider the color of clothing that you are wearing to make sure that you are not the center of attention for your event. You are always safe with black or navy, and we know sometimes that gets boring, so play around with colors that are safe. The level on the radar screen for dress rather male or female should always be either business suit attire or business casual. Wear a belt and always keep the shirt tucked in.
- The Footwork – Your shoes should always reflect your profession and be comfortable. Our jobs in this industry are demanding and serves up long hours, so wear shoes that will be of comfort to you and your feet – you will both be thankful. Keep your shoes polished and in good condition. Besides looking at your upward attire, your feet draw a lot of attention also so keep shoes looking fresh and spry.
- HAVE THE APPROPRIATE SIZE – Wear attire that is suited for your body type. Gentlemen should have the appropriate shirt length hitting the base of their hands. Gentlemen’s pants should drop at the top of their shoe to provide that sense of GQ Fashion. Ladies look comfortable in all of your clothes – have them fit to your body type also.
- BE COMFORTABLE
- BE CONFIDENT
- BE POISED AT ALL TIMES
- Un-Kept Crowns – Never walk out the door as if you just risen out of the bed. Your hair should not look greasy or as it does not look maintained. You should also never walk out the door if you have unwanted snowflakes standing on top of the crown which eventually fall on to your attire which does not look to appealing. Gentlemen don’t look as if you have been stranded on an island or that you have been living with T-Rex – shave, shave, cut, cut.
- Soiled Hands & Un-shaped Nails – Never appear to have soiled hands that look as if they are never clean – your hands are a major part of your interaction and the bridge to engagement with individuals with the signal of a handshake, so you want to have your hands groomed at all times. Take time out weekly or bi-weekly to trim and shape your nails, and to give them a little TLC.
- Dirty Laundry – Never appear within any environment as if your clothes do not appear fresh and clean. If you have pets, don’t have your pet walk out the door with you on your clothes. Do not wear unwanted wrinkles – wrinkles make it seem as if you do not care. Do not wear attire that looks like night-wear or lounge wear. Ladies, knit dresses are not appropriate they look like lounge wear. Stains are not a necessity also – if you see a stain or tear, change to something different because it is not appropriate. Also, absolutely no lint balls or naps, this is a sign that this has been worn too death and it is time to retire. Don’t look like you just stepped out of bed with the clothes that you had on the night before.
- Don’t Let Your Clothes Wear You - Never wear clothes that are one, two, or three sizes too small – wear the appropriate size. Ladies, make sure that the “girls” are secured appropriately – you are not going to the club – you are conducting business. If you are a mover or a production person, no wife-beaters or tank-tops, full shirts please. Wear a company polo shirt or a professional company t-shirt if you fall within the production category. Never wear your shirt on the outside – tuck, tuck. Don’t hang loose, please wear a belt to keep things together and to also provide definition to your stature. Never wear clothes like you are hanging out in the comforts of your home. Remember you are conducting business and not at home relaxing on the sofa.
- Tacky Footwear – It doesn’t have to be a designer brand it just has to look the part! Guys, keep your shoes polished and the soles leveled and in good shape. Professions such as photographers, videographers, and others of similar constant work mobility usually wear sneakers. For your profession, sneakers are okay – just don’t wear bright white sneakers, sneakers that are dirty, or sneakers that look like they are 15 years old. Wear nice black comfortable shoes or black sneakers. Don’t wear your favorite neon colorful running shoes – remember you are conducting business. Do not wear flip-flops or casual sandals, you are not at the beach – you are conducting business.
- Don’t Look Uncomfortable
- Don’t look doubtful or that you are not sure of yourself
- Never let them see you hanging – always have the correct posture
- Never wear a FROWN!
When a business offers a professional image to the world, it draws customers and other professionals directly to them. Business colleagues in the industry value and respect the empire you are building and the services that you provide – you become recognizable as a professional.
Your Professional Image is a vital characteristic that represents you and your business – it states that you are arriving in the business world appropriately dressed for the occasion and ready to do business on any level…Image is Everything!
EXAMPLES OF APPROPRIATE & APPEALING DRESS ATTIRE FOR VARIOUS INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS: