Back To Career News

Do Appearances Matter? (Short Answer: Yes)


We would all like to think that we’re above such mundane things as looks and presentation, but the fact is, appearances count — a lot. The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be supermodels to get ahead.


(Photo via striatic/Flickr)

Although attractive people sometimes have an easier time getting promotions and raises (and sometimes don’t) the really important aspect of your appearance at work has to do with how you dress and carry yourself, not how your features are arranged.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Moriah Robbins at Levo League writes:

“During my first week at my first job, I got a phone call from one of my program leads warning me to dress more conservatively. About two weeks later, I got pulled aside again because I had worn a dress that was a little too tight for company standards. A few months down the road, I got a warning from a manager about not dressing professionally enough. She told me that no one was taking me seriously because of my appearance, and that if I ever wanted people to acknowledge me in a positive way, I needed to change this.”

Ouch. Painful as that was to hear, though, her manager probably did her a favor. (Provided, of course, that her criticism was constructive and professional and didn’t cross a line.) So how can you make appearance work in your favor?

1. Look at how everyone else is dressed.

What’s appropriate for one job might be either too casual or too stuffy for another. Some workplaces are very traditional; others are freewheeling and anything-goes. If you’re a woman working in a field that’s mostly populated with men, your managers might advise you to dress conservatively — and even if it makes you grit your teeth to have to adapt your style in order to be accorded the respect you deserve, it’s probably good advice.

2. Dress for the job you want.

It’s a cliche at this point, but it’s still true. If you dress like an intern, you’re not going to become the boss anytime soon.

3. Hygiene first.

No matter what you wear, make sure it’s clean and pressed. And before you do that, make sure you’re clean and pressed, too. Even the most casual dress code is no excuse for being a bad work neighbor.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your company’s dress code like? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.