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Posted by Tim Bryce on October 22, 2012


– A guide for how appearances affect you in the workplace.


To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Your appearance says a lot, not just about you, but how you regard others as well. Someone who is well dressed and groomed will command more respect than someone who is not. Today, tattoos and body piercings are very popular among younger people. Regardless of your attitude towards them, there are still many prejudices against such body art in the corporate world. Understand this, the higher you go up in the corporate ladder, the more you become a visible symbol of the company you represent. If your body art doesn’t convey the right image, you won’t be going anywhere. So, if you happen to like that new nose ring you put in, don’t expect that big job promotion anytime soon. Like it or not, if you have got body art, do yourself a favor and keep it under cover. The same is true in regards to unkempt hair, facial or otherwise.

If you have to wear a tie to work, make sure it is contemporary as well as conservative. Learn to tie a decent knot (people tend to giggle at clip-ons) and the length is somewhat important. For example, a tie resting well above your belt buckle implies inadequacies in the individual, and a tie resting below the belt buckle implies someone prone to excess. The tip of the end of the tie should rest on the top of the belt buckle.

One last thing in terms of dress, “business casual” certainly does not include wearing T-shirts, jeans, shorts, gym shoes or sandals. If you clean up your appearance you will be surprised how people treat you.

Office Appearance

Your desk and office space says a lot about your character. Because of this, you should make an effort to keep your physical surroundings as clean and up-to-date as possible. As an example, the military typically operates under a philosophy whereby you either work on something, store it away, or dispose of it. This forces people to be organized. There are those who would argue “A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A cluttered desk represents laziness and disorganization. People, particularly customers, prefer an orderly workplace. Think about it next time you go to a grocery store.

The point is, our physical surroundings affect our attitudes towards our work. For example, I know of a small print shop with a manager who insists on keeping it spotless. Their paper products are packaged and shipped promptly, inventory is well stocked and maintained, waste is disposed of immediately, and the machines are routinely cleaned and kept in pristine form. Further, the printers are dressed in uniform jumpsuits to keep ink and chemicals from soiling their clothes underneath. Contrast this with the typical print shop that is often cluttered with debris and the machines are infrequently cleaned. The printers of the “clean” shop have a much more positive and professional attitude regarding their work than other printers working in “dirty” shops. Further, absenteeism is not a problem in the “clean” shop and the printers are proud of the products they produce. Basically, they see their workplace as an extension of their home and treat it as such.

As a footnote, I asked the manager of the print shop why his printers kept the facility so clean when others were so dirty. He jokingly confided in me, “They don’t know any better.” In reality, the manager had set operating standards and routinely inspected the premises to assure they were adhered to. Over time, it became a natural part of the print shop’s culture and now he rarely has to inspect them.

NOTE: From my book, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – A Handbook for Entering the Work Force” which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  REMEMBERING BLACK THURSDAY – And the lessons it provides pertaining to today’s economy.
Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.


  1. Tim,
    It is so easy to stand out and impress in today’s casual world. There are so many slobs out there that when you wear nice pressed clothes and shined shoes you’re immediately noticed.


  2. Tim Bryce said

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “Ah, I knew there was an area where we disagree, but only in part. The print shop you mention is typically a methodically run operation. Singular purpose, printing. An order comes in and is processed and shipped. Such businesses are fairly easy to organize and keep up the appearances. But there are other avenues of work that do not lead in this direction. If you were to visit my shop today. You would probably think that I am the most un-organized person in the world. Most of my tables are piled high with all kinds of stuff, Yet and amazing amount of work passes through my shop.

    To begin with, it is a combination shop. My part of the shop is dedicated to working on model airplane and my shop tools are pretty well organized with proper places for each, and I methodically build a model according to plan. However, the shop is mine only by the grace of the owner of the building,. It is a about a 100 x 100 foot two story barn and my shop is in one corner of it. About 20 x 20. The barn is home to the Perry Haunted Barn, a charity event that take place every October, but we work on it all year long.

    I arrived there one cool day in April of 2010 to work on a laser light as a favor for a friend, I have been there almost everyday like a regular job.

    Here is where the disorganization comes in, When I go in to the shop in the mornings I never know what awaits me, Sometimes there is the loot from an auction that I must sort through to see if there is anything of value for the Haunted barn, Sometimes there are windshield wiper motors that I make in to animated props, Sometimes there are chains saws that I need to rebuild or a piece of jewelry that needs to be polished or perhaps a piece of electronic equipment that I need to trouble shoot. On some days I see as many as 30 completely different projects all requiring different tools and methods of work. For me that is what keeps me alive. I love it,. but sometimes there is no time to put back all the tools and materials keep the shop neat, So I take each project on a priority basis and work it best I can, The hard part comes when I have something apart for which part have to be order and took hours to take it apart, so it set apart taking up space until the parts come in. There is simply not enough room to put is somewhere else. When you have more than two or three of these project it becomes very cluttered and stays that way until all item on the tables are restored, repaired or built.

    Then no matter how long it takes the shop get a good clean up and it looks like some one really works there. Maybe if I had a larger shop where there were enough table to put things in work I might be able to keep it more organized. but I doubt it..they would just bring more projects. You see I not only fix or build for the barn but I fix things for all the 50 to 60 actors that come to volunteer their time for the haunted barn.

    I do not get pay for anything I do. They do give me money for parts and materials. but when my table in not full, I have a wonderful shop for building model airplanes.

    The clutter is a fact.

    Now on personal appearance, for the most part I agree with you. However as you stated we are moving toward a modern world. (Check out Alan Toffler’s “The Third Wave” if you have not already read it) Today in many of the companies I have had the privilege to work with Tattooes and body are are frown upon only by older executives around my age. I too am against body art. but many companies today look only at the skills that a person has and his track record. Amazingly many of these folks that display body art are very talented in their fields. As for me, I am a bluejeans and tee shirt kind of guy but I do dress for business when it become necessary. As for my peers, LOL,, I am slowly outliving them.

    For the most part , and for young entering the work force, I agree wth you. As you say, Keep the faith!!!!”


  3. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Having worn uniforms at a parochial school for twelve years, I felt unprepared to put together outfits for work. I envied the public school kids who had kept up with fashion. Now that public schools allow all sorts of sloppy dress, I think the parochial conservative style has paid off. Before I graduated from college, we were given a crash course in business attire dos and don’ts. It was a huge help.

    I admit to being one who is influenced by body art and piercings. When I was young, only girls had pierced ears and the guys with tattoos were either bikers or had been in the service.
    Although I know several young women who have tattoos, to me those tats say “Biker chick” and cheap. When my cousin’s son wanted a neck tattoo, his parents said “Fine, if your goal is to cut someone else’s grass for the rest of your life.”


  4. Tim Bryce said

    An E.C. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Great article. Very timely for someone I know.”


  5. LOL!! Well I’ve worked from home since 2003. I always dress well for business appointments–but I can go to work in my jammies. I defy logic… 😀


  6. Tim Bryce said

    A U.V. of Largo, Florida wrote…

    “You’re right. The Power of Appearance is very important. Hard to get it through to the young mind though.”


  7. Tim Bryce said

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “I enjoyed this Tim! Super true!”


  8. Tim Bryce said

    A C.C. of Honolulu, Hawaii wrote…

    “Appearance is very important although we don’t like to admit it. We are judged by how we present ourselves whether we like it or not. So, it is important to take the time and energy to make yourself look nice. Great article! Should be in the career section of Gather.”


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