The Do’s and Don’ts of Professional Presentation for Millennial Women
As Millennial women, we often have to take advantage of any possible networking opportunities to make a great first impression. But there’s a lot of variation in women’s clothing, and sometimes its difficult to figure out how to maximize your self-presentation. So, how should you dress for a professional event? Should you go with traditional black bottoms and a white blouse? Or can you spice it up with some bold colors and patterns?
In some cases it’s perfectly acceptable to stray from the traditional professional look, but there’s a fine line between jazzing up business casual and dressing for a party. Presenting oneself professionally can be challenging, but it’s imperative Millennial women learn to do so. Appearance and self-presentation go far beyond attire, and Millennials sometimes overlook minor details when preparing for professional events.
I witnessed many young women who failed and many who succeeded in presenting themselves professionally at the National Conference for the Public Relations Student Society of America this weekend. With more than 1,200 college students from across the country in attendance, I began to see a trend in my peers: some individuals truly understand how to present themselves professionally, but many Millennial women do not pay as much attention to detail in their appearances as they should.
While some style choices are obviously acceptable, other self-presentation decisions may negate professionalism. Below is a list of dos and don’ts for building a professional presence for interviews, conventions, conferences, and other professional events.
- Wear modest clothes that cover your cleavage, lower back, midriff, and thighs.
- Wear light, natural-looking makeup, if you wear makeup at all. There’s no need to go for a full-on smoky eye look at the office.
- Bring professional accessories. Bring purses that can fit padfolios or other organizers and devices.
- Hand out your business cards! What better way is there to quickly promote your personal brand?
- Eradicate the use of filler words, for example, “like,” “uh,” or “um.” It’s extremely distracting when listening to someone ask a question in which every other words is “like.” This is easier said than done, no doubt; click here for some tips on how to stop saying “like.”
- Wear too much perfume. Walking past someone whose scent is too strong can deter other individuals from approaching that person to talk.
- Wear short, tight skirts/dresses. Professional events are not the time to show off the results of all those squats you did. Skirts and dresses should at least lineup with your fingertips when your hands are at your sides.
- Wear heavy, gaudy or intense makeup. The makeup you wear in professional settings should enhance your natural beauty.
- Wear clothes that are too casual. Avoid wearing sneakers, T-shirts, sweat clothes, and clothes with company logos.
- Let your nail polish chip. Chipped nail polish can send messages that your are lazy. It’s harder to notice chips on lighter, softer colors than it is with dark or bright colors.
At professional events, your appearance is your brand. The way you look is the first information you convey to others about your personality. Thus, paying attention to details and adhering to some typical professional attire standards can help you appear more professional. You can be trendy and professional at the same time–your style may even help get you noticed.
Natasha Paulmeno (@NatashaPaulmeno) is an aspiring PR professional studying at the University of Maryland. She is learning to speak Spanish fluently through travel, music, and school. In her spare time she enjoys Bachata music, playing with her dog, and exploring social media trends.
Featured image courtesy of [Vladimir Yaitskiy via Flickr]