Finances & Money

10 More Easy Ways to Look Unprofessional

I’ve been wanting to write this article for some time, but I figured everyone was so excited about me talking about how I want to get out of debt, so I didn’t post it. Well, here’s the sequel to my popular post “10 Easy Ways to Look Unprofessional“. Are you ready for 10 more ways to look unprofessional?

  1. Wear an outfit 2-3 sizes too large. This can be baggy street clothes or a suit coat that hides most of your hands because it’s so big.
  2. Wear a too-tight outfit. This isn’t just for the office. How many times have you seen a woman (or even preteen) walking down the street in something about 2 sizes too small? Listen, if something is hanging over the edges, or when you sit down, the skirt rides up more than an inch, it’s too short and too tight. Guys and gals, if you can see between the buttons on your dress shirt, it’s too tight.
  3. Don’t brush your teeth and don’t drink anything (or just drink coffee). I already mentioned brushing teeth in the first post, but this is an important one to me. Listen, I don’t care whether you think think your breath is fine in the morning, brush your teeth anyway! Brush them at night before bed too. Oh, and not drinking anything means you’re not flushing bacteria out of your mouth. Stay hydrated!
  4. Smoke. Is there anyone in this country who thinks that smoking makes them look cool anymore? I know, it’s addicting. My own parents have smoked for all my life and longer, and they’re hooked. But this isn’t about addiction, this is about professionalism. If you reek of smoke, don’t think that a breath mint will cover it up. You need to go change your clothes, hose yourself down and rinse your mouth with a bottle of Listerine to get rid of the stench. Believe me, I know, and now you do too.
  5. Keep that unibrow/monobrow. When you look in the mirror, do you notice that you only have one eyebrow? One BIG eyebrow that goes across both eyes? I know that I shouldn’t care about appearance because we’re all God’s children, but there are certain fashion and decency standards I follow. Pluck or shave that patch of hair between your eyes, please.
  6. Women, don’t pluck, shave or bleach that mustache. You’re not a man, right? Nature didn’t bless you with a clear lip, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep that ‘stache, or those 2 LOOONG hairs that look like antennae.
  7. Wear worn-out clothes. You know a polo shirt is worn out when the collar is fraying or is curled like a potato chip. If you have any holes in your clothes, especially in your pants bottom, you need to turn around, go home and find some clothes that don’t double as rags.
  8. Men, keep an unkempt mustache or beard. Personally, I think beards should be reserved for lumberjacks, truck drivers and Bob Villa, and mustaches lost their style in the 70s/80s, but to each his own. If you’re going to keep facial hair in the corporate world, keep it trimmed close.
  9. Don’t even try to match your outfit. I understand that picking colors and patterns is an art, and even I mess up once in a while, but you at least need to TRY! That orange Texas Longhorns tie does not go with that red flannel button down and brown wool sports coat. Oh, and…
  10. Wear the same outfit more than once per week. Unless you’re Agent Smith from The Matrix, you probably alter your styles each day. However, trying to get away with the same exact outfit more than once in a week, much less consecutive days, doesn’t work. I’ve actually only run across one person that tries this. And it happens to be that outfit from #9.

Now bring on the criticism or praise (more of the latter please). Do any of these ring a bell in your own life?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Great post!! I wholeheartedly agree.

    Can I also mention the following:

    – Not bothering to brush your hair, or iron your clothes so they aren’t wrinkly and unkempt
    – Wearing too much makeup
    – Wearing inappropriate clothing (UGG boots or flipflops for example, or miniskirts, or halter tops without a jacket to cover their shoulders)

    The key is to look presentable and look and smell CLEAN. That’s all we’re asking for….

  • Wow. I am the epitome of unprofessional according to your two lists.

    meh. So far, my appearance at work hasn’t stopped my career progress. I don’t wear provocative clothing to the office either. I wear what is appropriate when necessary, i.e. to the nines in suits when meeting clients or senior management. It all depends I think on the workplace.

    I would say your two ranty lists can be summed up in one single piece of less-offensively phrased advice. “Take note of your personal hygiene and keep it at a high standard.” No need to be specific unless you are passive-aggressively trying to say something to your neighbor, Nick. (LOL)

    Admittedly the one incident I heard about, after the fact, from multiple people was the club kid who came in smelling of BO and still having glitter on his face. Management had to intervene. I can’t even imagine how to say that to a person. My co-workers all told me about the guy at one time or another and frankly, he’s legendary in the call-center.

  • Mapgirl, your summary would do fine, but apparently living by society’s standards has already gone over many people’s heads, so I did want to be explicit.

    And what are you saying about Nick? He’s an engineer, so I gotta give him some leeway. Don’t they all wear short-sleeve shirts and ties with the backs longer than the front? 😉

    Actually, this list was inspired by a certain client’s project manager (see #9 and 10) rather than any friend or neighbor. I am in now way the fashion police, and I know I would be looked down upon by most European standards, but there are just some things that should not be done!

  • Nick has always been very nattily dressed when I’ve seen him, *especially* since he’s coming from work. The work badge on display is the prime accessory. I thought you were saying he wasn’t up to snuff! 🙂

  • I just got to the bottom and I have to disagree with your last statement.
    1. What if you wear a uniform (ok that was being a devil’s advocate here.)

    2. What if you just started the job and you are dead broke and only have one pair of pants and three shirts to go to work. If you work five days a week then you will be wearing the same thing twice…..even if you wash it.

  • Very funny stuff. I actually vaguely mess up on the wear-different outfits stuff because I’m lazy. It’s clean, don’t get me wrong, but I will wear the same khakis and golf shirt twice in a week, laundry permitting. I’m not proud. I wish I could dress like Agent Smith at work, particularly with the sunglasses – that might give me that intimidating edge I’ve been missing.

    And just to give you an idea of my workplace, #2 is a problem EVERYWHERE. And not in the good way. My next-cube neighbor has buttons that scream for deliverance to the next life…

  • Hey,

    I’m taking offense to that beard and mustache thing. I can’t afford to shave, I already have “one of those faces”, so if there’s not beard I look like I’m 14. Now there’s a way to look unprofessional.

  • My number one peeve is people who wear too much perfume. Nothing like being forced to spend 8 hours in a cubicle next to someone who apparently hooked up their perfume or cologne bottle directly to the shower head. Mind you, I dislike most common scents anyway, but when someone wears enough of some scent that I can smell it all the way across the call center, well, my workday is totally ruined. One brief spritz to your wrist is all you need, honest. Maybe you can’t smell it yourself, but I promise you, the rest of us can.

  • @Bookwormdragon: It’s funny you say that. I used to work at a cosmetics/perfume company, and one of the things they really like to promote in customers is a strong sense of brand loyalty. Not that most companies don’t, but the reason why always struck me as having unpleasant consequences. If you wear the same brand of aftershave/cologne/perfume/etc. every day, you get used to it. You can’t smell it. So you hit yourself up one more time and one more time again until you do. It makes you a disgusting stench bomb (no perfume smells good overapplied) but you run out of it quicker.

    I thought this was very clever. Actually there’s no need to apply any scent directly to yourself – spray it in the air, then walk through the cloud. And don’t put it on your clothes, apply it to your bare skin.

    I can’t believe I just gave a beauty tip. Time to change my blog theme. Gah. Must go watch football.

  • BripBlap: I’m not saying that wearing the same pants in a week is bad. Heck, I wear mine 2-4 times before sending them to the cleaner (hence how I get my money’s worth per wear. I don’t like ironing either). It’s just the exact same outfit (shirt, pants, tie, etc.). That’s why guys have it easier than women. We can wear a white shirt and black pants and no one will know we wore it yesterday. However, it’s a darn boring outfit.

    Baz: Not much is worse than someone hanging onto a few scraggly pieces of facial hair because they think it makes them look older. Believe me, shave it off because people see through it anyway. There are only a few people who can really pull off a mustache, beard or other variant (I saw a good stache on the train yesterday. The guy looked like a young Tom Selleck.

    BookwormDragon: Dang! I forgot that one! B.O., perfume/cologne/smoke are the trifecta of horrible, unprofessional smells. Every one gives me headaches to be around. Bripblap has some good advice there. I just don’t wear cologne anymore. I have bottles from 15 years ago in the closet.

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