In one word, yes. I’ve had (and seen) numerous appearance incidents at my office, and after about a year and a half at my company, I’ve learned that your appearance really does matter.

During my first week at my first job, I got a phone call from one of my program leads warning me to dress more conservatively. About two weeks later, I got pulled aside again because I had worn a dress that was a little too tight for company standards. A few months down the road, I got a warning from a manager about not dressing professionally enough. She told me that no one was taking me seriously because of my appearance, and that if I ever wanted people to acknowledge me in a positive way, I needed to change this.

After this third dress code faux pas, I realized I needed to get it together. I started planning out my outfits in advance, and committed to the old adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Even on days I didn’t feel like putting in the effort, I came up with some outfits that are comfy, but still look pulled together.

I noticed a difference immediately. I felt more confident and capable. People began to acknowledge me in the hallways. The only thing that had changed was my appearance, and this tiny change made a huge difference.

But appearance isn’t just clothes. It’s how you present yourself. Is your nail polish always chipped? Do you slurp when you eat or drink? Is your messy bun more messy than chic? These things don’t go unnoticed.

Here are some tips for instantly looking more pulled-together in the office:


Being well dressed doesn’t mean that your closet needs to rival Cher Horowitz. Pairing basic staple pieces with a statement necklace, a coordinating scarf, or some eye-catching earrings will allow you to create many different looks from the same outfit.

Mind your manners

It may sound elementary, but the way you present yourself is incredibly important to how you are perceived in the workplace. Expressing gratitude and avoiding using foul language, even if others around you do, is essential. It is also important to practice self awareness, especially when it comes to hygiene. That means no clipping your nails at your desk, refreshing deodorant as needed, and avoiding messy (and pungent) food if you know you can’t eat it without spilling.

Pay attention to details

Wrinkles in your clothes? Iron them. Hole in your shirt? Don’t wear it. Deodorant or toothpaste stains? Change.

Be prepared

Keep nail polish remover pads or a bottle of your current color if you know your nails tend to chip, a Tide pen for spills on clothing, and clear nail polish for runs in your tights or pantyhose in your bag. Not only will these help you out in the event that you need them, but other women in your office will appreciate your preparedness when they are in need of one of these items.

Overdo it

As fashion icon Coco Chanel once said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Would you rather be the most pulled together person in your office and known as “Miss Prim and Proper,” or known as the messiest and the “office slob?” Until you find the balance most appropriate in your office, always overdo it.

What is your best work look?

Ask Kathryn Moos what her best work outfits are!

Photo courtesy of: Skirt the Rules