Professional Grooming Done Right

By Steve Nubie

There’s More to Professional Grooming Than a New Suit and a Haircut

Every professional appreciates the value of a positive and confident appearance. Unfortunately, some subtle miscues or mistakes can contradict even the best efforts and diminish your professional perception. Here are the most common miscues from a professional grooming standpoint. 

  1. The condition of your apparel. It may be an outfit that cost you hundreds if not thousands but if any part of it is wrinkled, stained, or even a bit threadbare, it could diminish your appearance. This is a tough one, particularly at the end of a long day.

If the big meeting is happening at 4 p.m., think about hanging up the jacket or suit coat for the day, and always stop in the mirror for a moment to check yourself out. It’s better to walk in confident than second guess yourself when you notice later that your collar was up; there’s a coffee stain on your blouse or shirt, or some other symptom of wear and tear after a long day.

  1. Physical appearance. We always check ourselves out in the morning before heading out to work, but during the course of the day things can happen. Hair gets bent out of shape, some of us older guys miss the various nose-hairs and ear-hairs that seem to spring up like weeds in our later years, some women leave a makeup smudge across their nose from a simple brush of the hair or brush across the cheek, eye shadow clumps, cowlicks spring up from the back of our heads from sitting back in a chair and there’s always that bit of spinach in our teeth after a healthy lunch.

Professional execs have to do frequent and methodical checks whether in the washroom or at a small mirror in the office. It helps as well to have some basic grooming tools in your desk drawer to handle any issues that might afflict you in this regard. And by the way, haircuts are not an option but a regular event you should consistently pursue.

  1. Posture and body language. This is a tough one. Many execs put in 80 hour weeksand sometimes it’s difficult to keep posture and composure at a high level. To the degree possible, keep your shoulders back and your head held high. Also watch your tone of voice and projection. Don’t sound tired!

Visible signs of tiredness, exhaustion and lack of energy can be misunderstood and discouraging to direct reports, and a sign of weakness from supervisors and top management. You may be tired, but do your best not to show it.

  1. Jewelry, piercing and tattoos. Manage the message when it comes to jewelry, piercings and tattoos. It may be an expression of who you are on weekends, but clients, employees and colleagues may see it as inconsistent with your position or an excuse to demonstrate the same behaviors. Much of this depends on your corporate culture.

If you work for a highly creative entertainment company, these things may be common and expected. If you work for a conservative corporation or are serving as a professional providing a service from legal to financial counseling to medicine––leave the piercings at home and minimize the appearance of any tattoos. This goes for the overuse of perfumes, colognes or other aromas or odors that may polarize the people you interact with on a professional basis.

To a large degree it’s about common sense but there’s also value in simply saying to your spouse or partner, “How do I look?” Answer them honestly and do everything you can to catch some of these simple trip-ups that could diminish their perception with friends, colleagues and clients.

As easy as this may sound, it’s just as easy to get complacent and simply let the events of the day overwhelm you. Give yourself the time to check yourself out, and don’t forget that good friends or a trusted assistant can give you some candid advice to keep you looking your best.

Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a published author with 10 books to his credit, has written for CBS Entertainment for the Twilight Zone series, and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and the Internet. He has served as Chief Creative officer in the marketing and advertising industry, was an Executive career-coach, is a chef and has traveled extensively living in Asia for two years, and London for two years.


These tips are provided courtesy of, devoted to those who are middle aged and people who accept the fact that they will get there someday.