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I have been stating in my earlier blog posts, we are living in a world where fast is faster and change is more disruptive than ever before, both personally and professionally.

There are many disruptions occurring in the work environment and one of the dynamics fueling this is the various generations in the workforce. We have four generations working together with varying styles of communications, work ethics, values, etc. This, along with the fact that there are now more millennials in the work force than baby-boomers, one thing is for sure, business as usual is a thing of the past.

The formality of some business practices may be coming to an end, however, that doesn’t mean the end of professionalism.

Just the opposite, I think professionalism will become even more important as we plot this new treasure map of professional success across the different generations.

I will be addressing some of the many topics of professionalism in my future blogs. One topic of professionalism for today’s blog is professional dress.

Dress is a big topic in business and contributes to your professional image. We have seen big changes in acceptable professional dress over the last few years for both men and women.

In some cases, for men we have seen the professional dress of suits and ties slide more to the professional casual description. It may be all the elements of a suit but not a suit or to the standard casual description, with three pieces. Where now instead of ties being a status symbol as part of the suit, less ties have led to the new status symbols for men of watches and shoes.

For women professional dress has changed from a suit to more dresses. It is very hard to find suits in stores these days.  Dresses are in, but not all dresses can be worn for business. A preferred professional style dress for the office is solid in color or less patterns, not frilly or with lots of layers and not sun, Sunday or evening type styles. Straight cut dresses that are not too low cut or too short in length are acceptable. And if sleeveless, I suggest having a jacket on hand for meetings.

Always remember, Americans do not have a problem with casual. The problem is we often slide from casual to sloppy and we do not know where the line is anymore. As far as casual goes, just as important as style is making sure it is clean, pressed, no stains, no buttons missing, not worn out or faded and fits properly.  I often tell women in my dress programs “just because it zips, does not mean it fits.” These items can make a casual outfit sloppy.

Studies indicated that people notice dress as part of the first impression people make of you, and that so far, has not changed.

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