Quick fixes for image problems

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You know that people make snap judgments about you based on your appearance. But it turns out that most of those judgments are right. In a study where people viewed photos of CEOs, the people were able to guess the personalities of the CEOs accurately just by looking at their photo. (Hat tip: Recruiting Animal)

Sometimes it’s about body language, and sometimes it’s about tone of voice (the Economist reports that men with appealing voices are better looking, and better looking men are smarter). One of the easiest ways to change peoples’ perceptions of you is with your clothes. I have hired a consultant to help me with this (recommended) and I have managed my wardrobe myself, on camera (not recommended).

So I’m not great at telling you how to make your voice more attractive, but I know a bit about dressing to manage your image, and here are some ideas:

Best way to choose an interview suit
Spend more time choosing the tailor than the suit. A bad suit makes people think you look bad and a good suit makes people think you deserve a chance. So, since a good suit won’t get you a job, don’t break the bank. Buy a just-barely-okay suit and take it to a good tailor. The thing you pay for in an expensive suit is fabric that doesn’t wrinkle and that lays well on your body.

Since you are having your cheap fabric tailored, it will lay well on your body. And if you don’t sit a lot before the interview, it won’t wrinkle: Voila, an expensive suit that wasn’t expensive.

Best way to feign an expensive wardrobe
The first three months on the job, buy shoes. If you think people don’t notice shoes, remember that managers in Google all wear the same shoes. It’s not an accident. Good shoes can make bad clothes look good. And don’t forget polish. Polishing silverware is outdated. Polishing shoes is not.

Most overlooked aspect of clothing
You can wear the same great glasses every day, so you get the most bang for your buck when you splurge on them. If you are wondering if your glasses are out of fashion, they are. If you don’t have enough money for a nice pair of glasses, wear contacts. Note to penny pinchers: When I have been short on money, I have never suffered from keeping disposable contacts in much longer than recommended.

Best long-term strategy
The world is not tracking the number of outfits you have and when you wear them. So if you can afford it, buy a few well-made outfits instead of a lot of cheap outfits. Low rotation is your best long-term strategy. Build a wardrobe of good clothes that fit well and you look like you’ve got your act together. Note to penny pinchers: Don’t forget to include the return on investment you get when you buy nice work clothes and you wear them on a date.

Best ways to look older
Red lipstick for girls. And conservative earrings—like diamond studs or plain pearls. (You can buy both as fakes. The only way anyone will ever know is if you lose an earring at work and show no apparent concern.)

Guys, look more mature by ditching accouterments like a baseball cap or an iPod hanging from your ear. Also, buy glasses. They make you look older.

Best ways to look younger
Botox, of course. But for starters, get your eyebrows professionally tweezed and your hair professionally colored. And smell like a grapefruit.

81 replies
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  1. Muneerah
    Muneerah says:


    I love your blog. I read it at work and even have it under ‘Intellectual’ in my favorites. After wearing pear-stained grey slacks that are too tight in the waist to the office yesterday, I began to seriously consider how my image was affecting my mood…and the prospect of landing a new job. So it’s out with ill-fitting slacks and in with clothes and suits that fit and have avoided fruit contact. And an eyebrow shaping.

  2. greatmanagement
    greatmanagement says:

    What a great post, Penelope.

    I certainly agree image is so important and can make a huge difference to whether you get that promotion or not.

    A few more tips for the guys – get a consultant to help with your clothes buying and to check the best colors for you – it is not just for girls. The return on the investment will be very good.

    Don’t put too much stuff (especially loose change) in your suit pockets – it makes the suit go out of shape. Make sure the trousers are not too short or too long in length. If the trousers have belt loops, always wear a belt.

    Color of the shoes should tone-in with the suit. Get noticed for wearing something different to everyone else. Could be a jazzy pair of colored glasses. I always wear very bright striped shirts – I now have a reputation for such things!

    Oh and one last thing, guys never ever wear white socks with suits!


  3. Chris
    Chris says:

    I’d put an expensive haircut up there with good glasses. A good haircut is worth paying for. I’m sure Sharon would agree. I can only afford to cut my hair twice a year, but I can get away with it because of the quality. Or maybe I just think I can get away with it. :)

  4. late_twentysomething
    late_twentysomething says:

    Another way to look younger — exercise. Regularly.

    Anyway, these are great tips and they’re sensible. Unfortunately most people don’t follow them and actually degenerate into the worst extreme: wearing the same bad stuff in rotation, week after week.

    I had a boss of several years who wore dull clothes that didn’t fit. He wore them so often I could literally predict his mood by the color of his shirt. Bad day? Grey shirt. Good day? White shirt. Both two sizes too big.

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    You learn something new every day – “smell like a grapefruit”. I don’t think it would make you look younger but evidently it makes men conjure up a mental image of women about six years younger than they actually are according to the study. Do you know of any research on smells that would work in a similar fashion for men?

  6. Sydney
    Sydney says:

    And don’t forget about your underwear (I kid you not!) We have a gym at our office. You think people won’t notice if you have a hole in your bra or if the elastic is pulling from your underwear. You think they’re not looking at you in the locker room, but they are! (And it was me that got busted, twice. A woman in my office said “Sydney, I would think the Chief Financial Officer of this highly regarded venture capital firm would be able to afford to replace her underwear once in a while!”) You don’t want stuff like that to fly around the office now do you?!

  7. Jess
    Jess says:

    “Note to penny pinchers: When I have been short on money, I have never suffered from keeping disposable contacts in much longer than recommended.”

    Penelope, this is a terribly bad idea! In particular, if you do this with the single-use lenses, they are just not designed to be cleaned and reused. Even the ones that are meant to last two weeks have issues of durability and cleanliness if you overuse them. You risk serious infection which can scar your eye, among other things.

  8. Kosta Kontos
    Kosta Kontos says:

    Another tip for the gents: smile with an air of casual confidence; and avoid coming across as arrogant in the process. There is a fine line between the two.

  9. michael cardus
    michael cardus says:

    Great post,
    I work in the Adventure field and I am often called into offices for meeting and conference room trainings. I have been involved in heated discussions with many of my team members about the importance of attire when working with corporate and youth groups. We expect profesional organizations to pay us to faciliate change and leadership within their organization. If we show up in ripped t-shirt faux-Hawks and carhart pants, corporate and teachers tend to not take our programs as seriously as we wish.
    Now If we show up in suits to the 1st meetings the contract is signed before we leave the meeting. Proper attire – proper place.

  10. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    Here’s a scenario: You exercise to make yourself look and feel better; you brush your teeth to make sure your pearly’s stay pearly; you shower to make sure you are presentable; So, why would you cover all that up with a 15 year old sweater and slacks that don’t reach the top of your shoes. People say they don’t care about their image but they do. If they didn’t they wouldn’t do all the other things that go along with it. The best test to see if you need new clothes is if you are still wearing items that you see in your high-school yearbook, you may need to update to what you see in a magazine.

  11. Jami
    Jami says:

    This was a great post! I especially like the part about the importance of shoes. I work in a professional building in south florida and there is such a mix of what people wear to the office. A lot of women come in wearing stilettos and the latest fashions and some women show up in flip flops (technically against company policy) and look like they’re headed to the beach. And that study about grapfruit was too funny!

  12. Amy at CareerSearch
    Amy at CareerSearch says:

    I wonder if there’s a study out there about heel height and women’s professional image. I’ve found that younger women who wear heels seem to be taken more seriously as ambitious than those who wear flats. But, apparently after a certain age (40-ish?), flats become acceptable. Weird, I know. But its been the case in high-powered DC and in the regional hospital work I’ve done.

  13. CJ
    CJ says:

    Making use of second hand stores is my trick for interview dressing. I know some particularly good ones that stock second hand designer clothes for a fraction of the price. For my last interview I got some great heels, a professional suit dress for £40 and I felt very polished!

  14. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Red lipstick on all women!?? You have some good ideas and dressing well makes a huge difference. I’m sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with the lipstick color. Maybe wearing a darker color that compliments your natural skin/hair tone would be a better suggestion. Some women just cannot wear red lipstick, they’ll look like hookers.

  15. Neil C
    Neil C says:

    Good advice about the shoes. I manage a rep who wears the bowling style shoe from a few years ago and needs to get this fixed ASAP. I am going to forward him this post & discuss it with him. I also need to shine my shoes a little more.

    I’m 35 and most people I run into socially think I’m under 30 due to my dress which my wife makes sure I keep as stylish as possible.(I would like to think it is because of boyish good looks but I am probably kidding myself) In a work setting I have to guard against looking too young since I manage & deal with many people much older so this post is very useful. (Though I am definitely not growing a mustache since I do not want to look like a porn star)

  16. Rich
    Rich says:

    Advice from a boss who was a few years my junior: “stop dressing like you are in grad-school”.

    He was ridiculed by the rank and file for wearing a conservative shirt and tie every day. Within a few short years he was promoted from entry level manager to low level VP of a fortune 200 insurance company. He was no more brilliant that the people around him, but looked the part.

    I have taken his advice and seen quite a change in the tone and treatment I receive when ‘dressed-up’. Isn’t there an old saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. All things being equal, why not give yourself the advantage of professionalism.

    Another brief tip for men. Buy great shoes and resole them when worn. If you don’t own shoes that can be resoled (i.e. plastic), invest in some.

    Thanks Penelope

  17. LP
    LP says:

    Amy at Career Search —

    You’re right about the heels. In my experience there’s a clear spectrum here, from kitten heels (too girly unless you’re 21) to standard 1.5-2.5″ (correct) to too-high or too-pointy (associated with ‘maneaters’). As a 6’1″ woman, this presents some problems, since flats are, as you say, not success-indicators, but towering over coworkers and higher-ups has its own difficulties.

  18. Scott Williamson
    Scott Williamson says:

    Good reminder that you don’t have to break the bank to look your best. When it comes to appearance little things like a manicure or being clean shaven for men and a decent haircut make a huge difference.

    For clothes, stores like Nordstrom Rack allow you buy great stuff at normal prices.

  19. Justin
    Justin says:

    Great post, overall, but I have to disagree about the cheap suits. Cheap suits are cheap for a reason – they are made from inferior fabric and have canvas linings that have been glued in. They will, without fail, wrinkle and pucker because they’ve been made out of the sartorial equivalent of tinfoil. A good tailor can do many things, but he can’t magically change the natural tendencies of shoddy fabric, nor can he undo damage done by an inferior or nonexistent cutter.

    If you want your suit to stay fresh looking, you should buy quality (after all, the life of a good suit is measured in decades, not years), patronize a good tailor to maintain its quality, and have it professionally pressed (not dry cleaned, which harms the fabric, just pressed) regularly, and treat it well both on and off.

  20. Kuri
    Kuri says:

    One thing more: if you’re using a tailor, give them some extra fabric to work with my buying a size too large. Tailors can make some places smaller, but can’t make them bigger.

    For example, I have broad shoulders and a large chest, so I buy a shirt that fits over my chest and shoulders, even though it’s way too big in the waist. The the tailor can make it fit in the waist.

  21. Mark
    Mark says:

    Please, please, please DO NOT tell people to get glasses to “make them look older”, that’s like saying “get a wheelchair, make yourself comfortable”. It really ticks me off when people do this because not having good eyesight is a handicap and should be treated with respect.

  22. Pinny Cohen
    Pinny Cohen says:


    I agree with most of your tips.

    I discovered the suit trick a year ago, when I found a great deal ($80) on an Express Suit. I took it to a Nordstrom tailor who for $40 made it look like a $350 suit.

    As a wearer of contacts though, I disagree – there is TONS of research on how you can ruin your eyes, even go blind from overwear of contacts, so readers beware.

  23. Nick
    Nick says:

    Right on point regarding the importance of tailoring. Best money you can spend on a suit.

    Learning how to wear and care for a suit can also up the ante without cost. When to button (only when you are standing). Which buttons to button (never the bottom button, always the middle and sometimes the top if you are trying to be very formal) Side pockets on a suit come sewn shut for a reason. Leave them that way. Then you won’t be tempted to put your hands or anything else in them. Leaving them sewn shut helps your suit hang well.

    Hang your clothes well at home. Let them air out. Sponge with plain water to clean. Keep them professionally pressed. You can look spectacular and highly professional without spending a dime.

    * * * * *

    These are such good tips — the pockets sewn shut, the good hangars. Thanks, Nick.

  24. Trina Roach
    Trina Roach says:

    These are some really fantastic tips! I wish more young people were exposed to such solid and useful information.

    When I still worked as Head of HR Development for an international ad agency’s German headquarters I was often appalled at how young people came to interviews. Ok, the agency world is a bit different that investment banking, and ‘civilians’ often get their knowledge of the industry from soppy mini-series, but I really don’t know what some of those kids were thinking. Girls dressed as though they were heading off to the club on Saturday night; guys dressed for a day of tuning their cars.

    And 2004 will go down in history as the year I saw more belly button piercings than should be legal on any continent.

    We had a lot of internal discussion about whether (and: how?) to broach the issue with the candidates themselves. If the applicant was an obvious no-go, it didn’t really matter, I guess. But a couple of good-to-great candidates made it unnecessarily difficult for me to hire them based on their poor wardrobe sense.

  25. Scott Goldman
    Scott Goldman says:

    With all due respect to the posters here, as a 50+ executive who is frequently told he looks about 40+, some of this advice is off-track and will hurt more than it can help.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1. Cheap suit? Do yourself a favor and buy one less suit and make the one you do buy a better one. Fabric and fit will make a huge difference in the way it looks, feels and hangs on you. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but if you’re spending anything less than $250 at a decent store you’re getting crap and in 8-10 wearings that’s what it will look like.

    2. Great tailor. Excellent advice. I have one that I’ve used for years who makes sure that what I buy looks like it’s supposed to. I mentally add about 10% to the cost of a suit or sport coat so that I know it’ll be well fit.

    3. Haircuts. For crying out loud, you could be right out of GQ and if your hair is sloppy $1000 suit and $200 shoes won’t help. Put it on your calendar to get your hair trimmed every four weeks and keep it relatively short. Long hair is fine if you’re a musician or artist but if you’re in the corporate world you’re not going to get the respect you otherwise would with a decent haircut. You don’t have to spend a lot, by the way; I go to a Fantastic Sam’s near my house and it costs my $20 – including tip – to look sharp. The trick is to use the same person to cut your hair all the time.

    4. General grooming. Please, please, PLEASE trim and clean your fingernails. Long, dirty ones are disgusting and will turn off anyone you meet. Resist the temptation to bite them (or your cuticles) – would you want to shake hands with someone who you just watched put his or her hands in her mouth?

    5. Posture. Stand up straight and don’t slouch in your chair. If you’ve spent money on nice clothes you can ruin them – and your image – by not having the right posture.

    6. Buy smart. You don’t have to spend a lot to look really good. I shop almost exclusively by catalog and do very, very well purchasing pants and jackets through Lands End. You can get beautiful, fitted, cuffed (yes, always get dress pants cuffed) pants for about $50. I’ve gotten silk/cashmere blend sport coats from them for under $200. Plus, they will take returns on anything you don’t like or doesn’t fit. It’s an easy, smart way to shop.

    7. Sport coats. In addition to a couple of decent suits get a sport coat or two. Anytime you travel take one with you. Wearing casual pants – even khakis, Dockers or decent jeans, is fine most of the time _if_ you’ve got a sport coat on with it.

    8. Fly right. I am constantly stunned by the way people look when they fly. People who would otherwise not consider going to the office in sweats, track suits, flip-flops, shorts or whatever will wear them on a flight. Even if you’re going on vacation, dress decently. Here’s some advice – dress like you’re going to run into your boss, your biggest client or your ex-girl/boyfriend on the flight and need to look your best… because eventually you will.

    9. Collars. If you’re wearing shirts without them now, stop. Anything without a collar (for men) is inappropriate for an office unless you’re in Silicon Valley and the dress code is non-existent or incredibly laissez-faire. And even then, do you really want to look like the rest of the cubicle drones or do you want to stand out? Decent, no-iron shirts can be found really cheap (I get great ones through Lands End and even on sale at Brooks Brothers for under $40 each).

    10. Shoes. Ditto regarding sneakers. Unless you’re a collector of vintage sneaks and wear them with the same aplomb as women wear their Jimmy Choos, skip the sneaks. Want comfort? Do what I do – buy some Rockport shoes that look like dress shoes and have great support and rubber soles. I wear them with pants and decent shirts and they look like a million bucks – and cost about $70.

    There’s more, but these are probably my top ten. Grooming, posture, decent clothes and a smile (did I forget to mention regular teeth-cleaning? Critical!) have probably gotten me further than my education and degrees.

    Dress for the position you want, not the one you have. Select your clothes with care in the morning thinking about _all_ the activities you have that day (and evening). And if you wonder if things are looking too worn, they are. Get rid of them. For less than the cost of one car payment you can refresh your wardrobe with a couple pairs of pants, a pair of shoes and a few shirts. Do it – you won’t be sorry.

    Just my cents (from a very successful, well-dressed executive who has worked with, hired, fired and coached hunreds of under-dressed, poorly-dressed and miserably-groomed people).

  26. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah says:

    Something my young collegues should think about is your audience. A slightly older (33) HR executive friend told me to by some winged-tip shoes. Not that anything was wrong with the more contemporary sqaure-tip shoes, BUT to him and the older generation they are viewed as more distingush; or an indication of maturity.

  27. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:

    Boy, this really sucks. It seems like a triumph of style over substance. The whole thrust is how good you look, not what kind of potential you have to do the job. All these posts on office politics, image, likeability and so on seem to me like an attempt to game the office. I guess “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” isn’t a comedy, but a true commentary on what the real workplace is like.

    I’ve done some interviewing of candidates, and have become very suspcious of anyone attempting to flatter and butter me up. I do appreciate the attempt to “dress to impress”, but I normally launch directly into technical questions and assess whether or not they can do the job. How well they fit with my team only comes after that.

    From the input by my team members, they are a fairly laid-back bunch, except when it comes to technial competence, in which case they become totally ruthless. No place for slackers or the clueless here!

    This post is proof of why us technical folks are suspicious and totally hate the “suits”. Can anyone say PHB?

  28. Scott Goldman
    Scott Goldman says:


    Dude, this has nothing to do with style over substance. This has everything to do with adding style TO substance. I personally think it sucks to have such talented people look so pathetic. Is there anything wrong with looking sharp, clean and professional in _addition_ to being talented?

    Nobody is going to take style over substance in the long run. I mean, you might be attracted to someone really good looking in a bar but if they can’t carry on a conversation for more than 10 seconds you’ll lose interest fast.

    Your team _should_ be ruthless about technical competence. That’s what makes businesses successful. But this isn’t an either/or situation – you can be both technically competent _and_ look good, too.

    P.S. Your post may be proof to “suits” that while people might be technically competent they may not give a damn about their appearance, which can be interpreted to mean “if they’re careless about their appearance, what else are they careless about?” I’m not saying that’s the way it is, I’m saying that’s they way some people would _perceive_ it to be.

  29. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:

    “Your post may be proof to "suits" that while people might be technically competent they may not give a damn about their appearance, which can be interpreted to mean "if they're careless about their appearance, what else are they careless about?" I'm not saying that's the way it is, I'm saying that's they way some people would _perceive_ it to be.”

    And this is precisely why I hate the “suits”. Perception is everything and competence is a distant 45th. Perception doesn’t write the code needed to do the client/server solution, and appearance doesn’t bring back a downed server without destroying the data it holds. It’s an article of faith that every serious IT/developer has quit a job over dress codes. I’ll take a guy who dresses casually with sandals who has killer tech skills and experience over a clueless wannabe dressed in a $500 suit with $300 shoes.

    Personally, I really don’t care what an engineer looks like. While I do appreciate the ones who make the effort to look good, if he/she can’t cut it technically, the team will see them out the door faster than solar radiation.

    This is why we are so productive with email, remote control, messaging, and IP conferencing. Nearly all of us have some form of Asperger’s or ADHD, so this fits the team and if some high and mighty VP of Marketing is offended by what he sees as sloppy dress leading to sloppy work, then that’s why we do so well with telecommuting. Besides, if the VP of Marketing is nosing through our area, the CIO is sure gonna want to know why he’s looking on his people.

    We have a long track record of adding functionality and value, implementing upgrades and updates fairly quickly and painlessly and enhancing the tools available to our end user/customers. That is the bottom line.

    In fact the last time we had a project go over time and budget, it was an ill-conceived attempt by the CEO to move the company to Network Computing, because Larry Ellison thought it would be the wave of the future. The CIO points to this track record (and the employees who have departed to comptetitors) whenever the subject of dress codes come up. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  30. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:

    Scott, as an addemdum to your post, let me respond to “if they’re careless about their appearance, what else are they careless about?” question.

    “My code is bulletproof and has saved them millions. They pay me do develop solutions, not to look good in a tie and suit. That’s what Sales and Marketing are for”.

  31. Scott Goldman
    Scott Goldman says:

    Well, what the heck… I usually leave these blog comment threads after a couple of postings but I do think that this is important to the other readers.

    I respect the fact that your code is bulletproof. So will others, and so will your company’s clients. I am impressed with your record and believe that you do quality work. If it works for you that’s fine, but advising other people (as you have in these comments) that appearance doesn’t matter in the face of quality work is misleading and dangerous. For better or worse appearances do matter.

    So, while you may think that it’s just for “sales and marketing” it’s also for assistants, clerical workers, attorneys, physicians, retail store personnel, restaurant employees, etc.

    On another note, your comment about why you “hate the ‘suits'” is offensive. You wouldn’t exactly be tickled if I said I “hate the slobs” or “hate the sandal-wearing t-shirts” of the world. If you referred to an ethnic group that way (which I’m sure you wouldn’t consider doing in a hundred years) you’d be a racist. So why do it in reference to the way a certain group dresses? Is it different to hate “suits” as a group? Isn’t categorizing everyone based on their what they wear just as bad as doing so by their background or skin color?

    For the record, people think I’m a certified geek – I code HTML, XML, AppleScript and a few other protocols. I know more acronyms and their meanings in the wireless industry than most people will hear in a lifetime. I can make any wireless device on the planet sit up and bark. But I still like to look sharp.

    Look, you want to sit in your sandals, t-shirt and bad haircut and code for the rest of your life I wish you much success. However, if you have _any_ aspirations about moving up in a company, getting funded for your own venture or meeting a hottie, you’ll need to clean up and look sharp.

    Finally, I mean no animosity or disrespect to you. I am merely trying to point out for the other readers of these comments that, despite all utopian hopes, appearances do – and always will – matter in the practical scheme of things.

    Respond for the other readers if you like, but my work here is done. Goodbye and good luck.

  32. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:


    What I’ve been objecting to, is the concept that, while appearances do matter, good appearance is replacing hard skills and experience, and that the shallowness and laziness of not seeing anything other than the surface appearance to gauge one’s skills and competence.

    Have no desire to get promoted, as the Senior Network Engineer, I already get paid more than anyone below Senior VP level before bonuses.

    Seen far too many of my friends crash and burn attempting to start new businesses, so, as Dirty Harry aptly said, “A man’s got to know his limitations”.

    Met my hottie when we were hacking together a 60 Tb SAN (and she knows far more than I do about FiberChannel and CCR), and have been happily married for the last 17 years with 5 kids.

    Any other reasons I should “clean up and look sharp?” :)

  33. Ross
    Ross says:

    What shallow advice. I believe that people thinking that this is great advice have serious self-image issues. Image will only take you so far in business…which isn’t too far. The ability to get a job done in a timely and correct fashion is far more important than guys wearing glasses to look older and women wearing red lipstick with conservative earrings. Who the hell would want to work at an organization where image takes precedence over intelligence, skills, and integrity? I guess people who must job hop every eighteen months because their intelligence, skills, and integrity are soon found to be suspect within their organization would….

  34. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the tips. I tend to agree about paying attention to shoes and buying high-quality pieces (even if you can only buy a few). I would also add that taking good care of your teeth (whitening, straightening, etc.) is crucial…

  35. Arnold
    Arnold says:

    Great post, except for the bit about contacts: "Note to penny pinchers: When I have been short on money, I have never suffered from keeping disposable contacts in much longer than recommended."

    You’ve just wandered into the realm of medical advice in an otherwise excellent post. The health of your eyes is not worth the risk from using contacts beyond the recommendation usage. The consequences for pushing this too far are too high.

  36. KK
    KK says:

    I work in a technology start-up..and most technology companies alike do not really care about dressing at all…the only cool thing that attracts techies aka geeks is cool technology rather than cool wardrobes.

  37. Diane
    Diane says:

    It isn’t always possible to do all of these things. Personally, I CANNOT wear heels for any length of time due to a major knee repair. The problem some people have is they can’t do one thing, so they throw the whole concept out.

    Also, in response to the person who mentioned 15-year-old clothes, I do have some 15-year-old clothes that still look great and are in good shape. Suits in simple styles in neutral colors can easily be updated with a scarf, necklace, or new blouse. The question shouldn’t be, how old is it? The questions should be, is it still suitable for who I am and what I’m doing? Is it still in good repair? If yes, who cares about the age?

  38. Heather in MN
    Heather in MN says:

    My husband and I recently relocated from FL to MN, and I found myself hawking my resume’ for the first time in 8 years. We lost our shirts selling our home and had no money after the move. The firm I left was VERY casual. My proper office attire was outdated (I’m sorry, most women’s clothes DO become outdated) and ill-fitting (after having a child.) With what little money I did have I was able to find a presentable interview suit from a discount fashions store, though it was obviously not an expensive one. What polished the look was the care I took with what I DID have. I made sure the shoes were clean. I properly applied my non-Chanel cosmetics. My nails were filed evenly to a conservative length and polished with clear enamel, hands moisturized. My hair was pulled back neatly. The way an interviewee dresses shows repect not only for his/her own worth, but also for that of the interviewer. I also went in with the attitude that not only were they interviewing me, but that I was also interviewing THEM. I got the position at the new firm I very much wanted to be a part of.

  39. Heather in MN
    Heather in MN says:

    An additional comment for those who feel regards for appearence is “shallow.” Yes, it would be great if someone could walk into an office, draped in his tattered Marilyn Manson t-shirt, dripping in piercings and eye-liner and black hair dye, and have the interviewer look right through it to his abilities. (My God, sounds like me right out of high school!) An extreme example? Perhaps. But where do you draw the line? Exactly, and there is YOUR expectation for appearence…so understand an Exec hiring for his/her firm is going to have an opinion and an expectation as well, and if you want to work for him/her then dress accordingly. My mother, whom I love dearly, also subscribed to the theory that you should be seen for who you are on the inside, not the outside. She retired after 35 years or working her tail off as a high school teacher. That is all she would ever do. A significant contribution to society, undoubtably, but in the real world it doesn’t work like that.

  40. Jrandom42
    Jrandom42 says:


    Actually, the person in the torn Marilyn Manson shirt is actually our senior webmistress. She works hard, revamped our web presence, and has us a 99.9999% uptime for the past 2 years. Her response to this post? “Thank God someone looked at my code and my work and not just my image.”

  41. Dan
    Dan says:

    Take it from me, don’t wear your contacts longer than the recommended time of wear. I did and my eyes began rejecting the contacts. My eyes were bloodshot for two weeks straight. It looked like I was high 24/7. I had to get an eye exam which included a retinal scan and ended up having to use a prescription liquid steroid to get my eyes back to normal. Oh yeah, and a follow up visit to the optometrist. None of this was free. It cost a lot of time and the same amount of cash it would’ve cost to get another year supply of contacts.

  42. nowjustaminute
    nowjustaminute says:

    How about Gandhi? The Mahatma. Undress for success. He stripped off his western suit, put on a loincloth and then proceeded to non-violently kick the British ass out of India.
    So you see there’s something fundamentally wrong in this ‘dress for image’ argument of yours. Hm, ponder, ponder..time to think deeper.

  43. B
    B says:

    “Note to penny pinchers: When I have been short on money, I have never suffered from keeping disposable contacts in much longer than recommended.”

    Man, I have. You can squeeze an extra week or two, but after that, you’re taking your eye health into your own hands. Some people can do it just fine. Some can’t — I’ve developed partial cataracts because of overuse.

  44. Jean
    Jean says:

    Just another addendum about using contacts longer than they were intended, which I did for several years to save money. After a while, your eye can develop an allergy to the proteins that accumulate on the contact lens, and in combating the allergen, your eye can then develop scar tissue on it’s surface. I got to a point where I was no longer eligible for a contact prescription, and I got lasik to avoid a lifetime in glasses. Of course, I had to spend a month in the glasses while I put antibiotics and stinging steroids in my eyes to heal them enough to go through surgery…

    Just my two cent experience. I’d advise looking for other ways to save money. Retrospectively, risking my long-term eye health wasn’t worth it.

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