CareerWritten by Shara Enay On 11 May 2011

Barbara Pachter, the president of New Jersey-based Pachter & Associates, is an expert in business etiquette and communications. Here’s what she says are the top 10 fashion faux pas committed by businesspeople:


1. Wearing clothes that are too big. If your outfit doesn’t fit right, you’ll look like a little kid in your big brother’s or sister’s clothing! Have your pieces altered for a professional, polished look.

2. Showing cleavage. Sexy is not a corporate look. Low-cut tops that expose cleavage draw attention to this body part and are not appropriate in the office.

3. Wearing a bikini when at a pool with business associates. Whether you are going on an award cruise or attending the company picnic, it’s not the time to expose everything! This applies to both men and women.

4. Wearing skirts that are too short. A short skirt draws attention to your legs (and that’s not where you want people to be focused).

5. Having short socks. Short socks or socks that fall down expose skin and hairy legs when men sit and/or cross their legs.

6. Drawing attention to your clothing because of your color choices. Do you want to be remembered for what you said or what you wore? A man in one of my seminars wore bright green pants and wanted my opinion. I said that since his slacks were not typical corporate clothing, he would probably be labeled as “the man in green pants.”

7. Wearing T-shirts, shirts or ties with inappropriate sayings, pictures or childish designs. A candidate wore a shirt with small teddy bears to an interview. He didn’t get the job; the interviewers just kept talking about his shirt.

8. Forgetting about your shoes. People notice shoes. Your shoes should be clean, polished and in good condition – and should match your outfit.

9. Dressing inappropriately for business social events. The company holiday party, conferences or dinner at the boss’s house are still business events and your clothing choices matter. It’s important to dress appropriately and professionally at all times.

10. Ignoring your grooming. Clothes need to be clean and pressed. Do not have chipped nail polish or nose hairs that need to be clipped. They become distractions.

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Shara Enay

Shara Enay is a writer for Hawaii Business magazine. She is a graduate of Kaimuki High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, traveling and watching UH sports.

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