Start Your FREE Membership NOW
 Discover Proven Ways to Be a Better Medical Office Manager
 Get Our Daily eNewsletter, MOMAlert, and MUCH MORE
 Absolutely NO Risk or Obligation on Your Part -- It's FREE!

Upgrade to Premium Membership NOW for Just $90!
Get 3 Months of Full Premium Membership Access
Includes Our Monthly Newsletter, Office Toolbox, Policy Center, and Archives
Plus, You Get FREE Webinars, and MUCH MORE!

‘Dressing for success’ at the office counts far more than you think

Whether the manager is speaking to a group, to the doctors, or to a new patient, looks count, says image consultant Sandy Dumont of The Image Architect in Norfolk, VA.

And Dumont backs up her assertion with research – limited research, but research nonetheless. She recently sat in a courtroom “for hours predicting which attorneys would win based on how they looked.” And each time, looks prevailed.

What were the clues of failure? One losing male attorney, she says, came in with his trousers “way low” and holding up a protruding stomach. One losing female attorney came in with her breasts all but falling out of her blouse.

Here are Dumont’s observations and recommendations for both doctors and managers.

Bellies and bumpkins

First, some rules for the men.

• A man should have his jacket unbuttoned only when he’s seated. Standing with an unbuttoned jacket looks casual to the point of being sloppy.

• Got a belly? Get bigger pants.

“A man needs to take an honest look” at his waistline, Dumont says. Ego often forces a man into pants with a too-small waist. Then he has to lower the belt line to accommodate his overhanging midsection.

The only way to camouflage a less-than-desirable waistline is with a suit that’s cut properly. That means a jacket that’s large enough to be buttoned and pants legs that are tailored and not baggy. It also means trousers that sit no more than an inch below the natural waist line. Any lower than that, and it looks like the man is dressing for his belly.

• A black suit is sophisticated, but be careful that it isn’t cut “in the style of the Mafia or the Hollywood bad boy,” she says. At that point, the black suit looses its charm and starts looking slick as well as a little scary.

Gray is a good suit color. And so is navy. “Every man looks good in a navy blue suit,” Dumont says.

Be careful too that the jacket color doesn’t conflict with the complexion. Camel is not for a red-headed man. And a man with sandy hair looks washed out in tan.

What about brown? In the professional setting, a man in a brown suit “looks like a country bumpkin,” she says.

Slimmer + taller = more money

Now for the women.

• Wear solid colors. An unbroken color line makes a woman look slimmer. And slimmer women look taller. And, Dumont says, studies show that “taller people earn more money” than short people.

The best way to achieve the slimmer-taller look is with a pants suit, she says, because it “stretches out the color” from neck to ankle.

In the professional setting, a skirted suit portrays more power and authority than does a pants suit, which tends to be casual.

• Mind the details.

Poor attention to the details of appearance bespeak a woman’s poor attention to the details of her work.

And one of the most important details is lipstick, though the color should be softer than a loud bright red. Lipstick shows both professionalism and experience. It says the lady is an experienced player in the professional world.

Conversely, “a woman who doesn’t wear lipstick looks like she’s from a small town,” Dumont says.

• As far as colors go, just like a man, according to Dumont, a lady “can’t go wrong with navy blue.” But unlike a man, she can get away with colors such as royal blue, racing green, and dark shades of red.

As with the lipstick, however, stay away from fire engine red.

Posture, age, and dressing up

And now some rules for everybody.

• Stand up straight.

For both men and women, the ultimate key to a good appearance is good posture. A poor profile conveys the message that the person doesn’t have any confidence.

Women are more often guilty of poor posture than the men are, Dumont says, and usually it’s because they feel intimidated in a male-dominated environment. And the intimidation shows. Slumped over, the woman looks like she doesn’t believe what she’s saying. Worse, a man who’s slumped over and who also has a stomach sticking out looks like an intimidated loser.

Nobody is impressed with somebody who looks defeated. What’s impressive is a straight military-like posture. It shows pride in self as well as pride in the medical practice.

• Appreciate age.

Dumont cites one male professional who was close to 60 and wore a ponytail. His image didn’t benefit from it.

Similarly, a woman who wears gloss instead of lipstick looks like a teenager.

The same for a woman with long hair “that looks like it’s just grown out and hasn’t been maintained.” She looks like a teenager – or a greenhorn. A woman who has long hair should pull it back into a clasp at the nape of the neck.

• When in doubt, dress up.

Casual has become the rule of the day. And people have become casual to the point “that they look like they’re getting ready to clean out the garage,” Dumont says.

Regardless of style, a professional person needs to dress the part.

Editor’s picks:

What to wear to a business conference

Model Policy: Dress code and appearance

Just promoted to office manager? Follow these 9 critical rules to avoid problems managing former friends and colleagues









Try Premium Membership