Back in 1970 when I interrupted my wandering of the South Pacific to enroll in my first year of college, I had a sociology professor who entered the class every morning in ratty looking shoes and a tattered sweatshirt. Essentially an academic slob style. To demonstrate that I was a mature student, I refrained from that appearance. But I never forgot the man–not for what he taught but for looking like a slob. When we are in front of a group how should we dress?
I believe your attire should suit the topic, audience age, sophistication level, and venue. We need to look like we are in control and a a leader.I've heard it said we should dress one level up from our audience, unless they are dressed like slobs, then two levels. Another person suggests we dress simple: clean lines, and solid colors. Add layers for authority — vest, sweater, jacket. It's like armour! Ever notice that those who exude power dress conservatively and modestly? And wear those layers. Immodest dress invites expoitation. You'll never catch this hunk in a Speedo.
HERE ARE SOME TABOOS:
- Bare legs, feet on display. Who wants to see them! Mine are more distractive than attractive.
- Shorts or Short Skirts — above eye level on platform. Besides I look funny in shorts with white legs.
- Moving accessories — bangs, earrings, scarves. Don't fuss with them . A friend once wore a chunky necklace that clicked against the lapel microphone and distracted many.
- Hats, short sleeves, loosened ties. So out with the John Deere ball cap, the exposed muscled and hairy arms. Wear that tie properly or don't wear it: loosened ties look drunk, not casual.
While sifting through some materail on the topic I wondered how a group of genealogists atteding an all day workshop would feel about a speaker who dressed as follows:
- Approach – Mix and match coordinates, high quality
- Excellent quality dress slacks in black, or
- Black leather skirt with black cotton/Lycra tights. I never wear hose.
- An unstructured jacket (wool or silk or leather) in a great colour — green, red, teal, black.
- Fun silk blouses — interesting prints, wrinkles fall out or
- Velour/Lycra t-shirts/t-necks — they don't wrinkle.
- Black or Red Leather vest.
- Wild socks – don't worry about the print matching my outfit.
- Funky/Hip shoes that are comfortable — black, red, green
- Great accessories.
- Great handbag.
- Red lipstick.
What do you think?
Pretty cool that he would wear all that. Not me – I don’t wear red lipstick, or carry a handbag, or accessorize much (is a laptop an accessory?). I’m just the basic Hawaiian shirt, Haggar expando waist slacks, black tennis shoes type of guy. I’m all about comfort…and I try hard not to wear a tie, not even to funerals. Weddings, maybe. But then I live in southern California where tattoos, hairy chests, tank tops, a Speedo and flip-flops are a fashion statement. Not mine, of course.
I agree that the dress of the speaker should not be the focal point of the talk – it should have no effect. Therefore, the dress needs to be at the level of the audience or above.
Cheers — Randy