Tag Archives: business

From Business Suits to Casual Dress: What Should Business Professionals Be Wearing?

Decades ago when you thought of a businessman, what were the first thoughts that popped into your head? If you thought business suits, that is not the case anymore!


Business professionals in formal business attire.


Over the past decade, some well-known companies have made casual Fridays into an everyday event where employees are allowed to choose their work attire, whether it is jeans and a t-shirt or a business suit. An astonishing 43% of workers who were interviewed stated that they wore casual business attire to work on a regular basis, which is up 32% since 2002 (Spitznagel). What does this mean for business executives and how are they responding?

Companies are hiring image consultants and fashion experts to teach their employees how to dress fashionably and appropriately. “American society has become so ridiculously casual,” says Clinton Kelly, co-host of the Learning Channel’s What Not to Wear.

On the hit CBS network show NCIS, a character named Abby works in a professional environment but always wears gothic-like clothes to work. She also consistently cracks cases and goes above and beyond what she is assigned. Is it appropriate for her to wear these outfits in such an office setting? Should young adults today have this option?


Abby from CBS's hit show NCIS.


Recent college graduates are entering the workplace not knowing the difference between formal business attire, business casual or just casual. In the workforce today, 90% of employees do not know the difference or distinction between the different kinds of dress. By putting dress codes into employees’ hands, General Electric tries to be distinct in the different levels of dress allowed in the workplace. “Companies such as General Electric (GE) force them to make these distinctions every day by asking that they ‘use good, professional judgment,’ as GE puts it” (Spitznagel).

When it comes down to it, businessmen don power suits to “look the part” of a businessman, in addition to being an actual businessman. For businesswomen, the business attire options are much greater, from the female version of the power suit to skirts and sweater sets. Of course, this leaves room for many fashion faux pas at work and blurs the line of appropriate dress for women.

Social media guru Kris Ruby recently sat down with Ivanka Trump, daughter of real estate mogul Donald Trump, to discuss the topic of women in the workplace. Ruby poses the question, “How do you deal with people who may underestimate you because you are a young, attractive woman?” to which Ivanka replies, “I never mind when somebody underestimates me. It often means they are not well prepared.” She goes on to say, “If somebody has a meeting with Donald Trump, they will come in fully armed and fully prepared, whereas if they have a meeting with me, they are less likely to be prepared, which is an advantage for me. It is always better to know more than the person you are speaking with.”


Ivanka Trump on the cover of her new book The Trump Card


Ivanka holds her own in the male-dominated corporate world and manages to dress both fashionably and appropriately. When asked about her style tips for women at work, the top three are context, modesty and femininity. Ivanka advises women to understand what is appropriate for their industry; an example she gives is dressing for the law firm versus dressing for an ad agency. She addresses the issue of women dressing a certain way in hope of being treated as equals. Ivanka says, “The instinct is to suppress our femininity, which is rooted in a concept that we should blend. But how you get there is not through shoulder-pads or pinstripes. You gain the respect of your colleagues. If you have their respect, they will not criticize you for dressing like a woman.”

The answer to the question of how one should dress in the workplace is different for everyone. In order to determine what is appropriate dress, employees should consider the workplace culture.

Still confused about what to wear? Take a look around the office. What is everyone else wearing? If all else fails, ask the boss. Knowing how to dress appropriately, comfortably, and fashionably is important in today’s working environment. The most important thing to keep in mind is that how you look says a lot; people will judge you based on your appearance. Also important is dressing to fit the culture of your clients. If you understand the circumstances of how business works, you understand that perception is reality.

Many people still wonder if it really matters what someone is wearing if they are doing their jobs. Ideally, no. In reality, yes, it does. Our advice? Dress for the job or position that you want. Like the old saying goes, “When in Rome… dress for success!”

Written by Adriana Mirra & Vicki Truong


Celebrity Endorsements: Risky Business or Rewarding Endeavor?

When you think about Oreos, what comes to mind? America’s favorite cookie? Check. Glass of milk? Most definitely. Shaquille O’Neal? Not so much.

Well, Kraft Foods begs to differ. Just last week, Kraft released a 30-second commercial in which Shaq is teamed with Eli Manning, Venus Williams, and Apolo Ohno to defeat the mysterious “hooded menace” who threatens to overtake the affectionately termed Double Stuf Racing League (DSRL).

One would think that companies would be reluctant to pair up with a celebrity after the infamous “crash heard ‘round the world” and resulting backlash towards golf-legend Tiger Woods. Such is not the case, it seems. Agents and CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) will always get starry-eyed by the big names of “celebrity” because 1) brands love endorsements, and 2) consumers buy into “celebrity.”

Companies recognize the risk that comes with choosing the celebrity-endorsement approach; many have learned the hard way that it becomes a reflection of their brand. Putting a face to a name makes the brand recognizable; more so when that face is famous. According to Anita Elberse, associate professor at Harvard Business School, some companies have seen their stock increase by .25% on the day an endorsement deal was announced. That doesn’t mean that every brand needs a celebrity-endorser; it has to be relevant to both the brand and the consumer.

However, celebrity endorsement is always worth investing in if you have the right person.

International pop star Lady Gaga is set to revive the instant camera for Polaroid as its Chief Creative Officer.

Teen singing sensation Justin Bieber lends his famous hair and unblemished face to Proactiv.

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady relies on Smart Water when hitting the gym to train for (hopefully) another Super Bowl appearance.

According to marketing research firm Millward Brown, U.S. celebrities show up in more than 15% of advertisements. Not all of the appearances are in front of the camera, mind you. Sometimes, all a celebrity needs to do is be seen toting around a product or updating their Twitter account with a simple 140-character tweet.

American socialite Kim Kardashian spotted with an exclusive Hermès Birkin bag.

That 70’s Show actor Ashton Kutcher tweeted behind-the-scenes details about Popchips (snack food item).

Celebrities generate gossip and gossip requires word-of-mouth communication. If consumers are talking about a celebrity and can link him or her back to a brand, the emotional connection or self-expressive benefit that consumers feel for / towards the celebrity is transferred onto that brand. As you can see, this is 50/50 chance that marketers must gamble on. When a celebrity behaves (Shaq), the brand (Oreo) does well. But, in the case of celebrity misbehavior (*cough* Tiger Woods *cough*), the brand (Accenture, Nike, Tag Heuer) suffers.

With that said, reports show that celebrities still push products. But the question that marketers need to ask of consumers is: Would you buy a product based on a celebrity endorsement?

Written by Vicki Truong