‘YOU can’t judge a book by its cover’, or so the saying goes, however when it comes to business interactions it seems that, like it or not, first impressions can easily become lasting impressions. It has therefore never been so important to dress appropriately so that your appearance reflects your professional capabilities.
Unlike say, the banking world or the legal sector, where the majority of firms demand their employees to be suited and booted at all times, in the creative industries there is no set rule of thumb and in PR in particular, agencies dress codes can vary drastically depending on what types of clients they represent.
Nevertheless, no matter what type of agency or in house PR department you work for, it is vital to always bear in mind that ‘PR people’ are often thought of as the ‘face’ of a company and therefore how you present yourself will reflect directly upon the client you are representing.
If there isn’t a set dress code, a good indication of how you should dress on your first day in a new PR job, can therefore be found by having a look at the company’s client list to gauge and choosing a clothing manufacturer for the style of the company. If the firm is anything like Holyrood PR there should also be some images of staff members on the website and social media pages so have a good look through them to get a flavour of the office attire.
The image you present of yourself should not simply be an afterthought and just as you would plan other aspects of your work, what you wear should also take a degree of preparation. I always try to plan my outfit the night before to avoid the 7am ‘where is that top’ panic and to ensure that my day doesn’t start behind schedule due to a wardrobe related crisis. This way I can sleep easy, safe in the knowledge that I won’t be rushing around in the morning attempting to iron a skirt, drink that all important morning coffee and look over notes simultaneously before shooting out the door.
Personally, I have always adopted the approach that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed in a working environment. At Holyrood PR we like to dress smartly in the office which I have to say I much prefer to a more laid back style. Even throughout my university years I always endeavoured to look relatively smart, especially when deadlines were looming as I felt it placed me in a better frame of mind to work (although, granted, there may have been a few exceptional days after a night in the student’s union when the hair was piled onto the top of the head and the hoody and leggings combo was donned!)
However dressing smartly doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank, and for recent graduates on a budget the trick is to carefully select a few staple pieces in order to create a working wardrobe that will keep you going until that glorious first pay cheque is safely in your hands. Now, I am in no way claiming to be some kind of fashionista and have most certainly had my fair share of fashion faux pas in the past but from personal experience I have listed my top five failsafe items that every PR girl should have in their wardrobe.
5 PR Wardrobe Essentials
The Blazer – a fitted blazer can be incredibly versatile and can be worn in a variety of environments but teamed with a jersey dress or skirt it can help transform a perhaps more casual outfit into a chic and polished work look.
Heels – one of the aspects I enjoy most about working in PR is that no two days are ever the same and you can be press release writing, meeting clients and running around on photo calls – and that’s all before lunch! The point of this is that at some moments throughout the day you will want to wear heels in order to look professional, however I would always recommend carrying a pair of flat pumps in your bag as you never know when you will next be running around a park for a photo call (as I was this very morning).
Tailored trousers – although I usually prefer to wear a skirt or a dress to work, as my colleague Melissa & I recently discovered in a rather embarrassing walk, wearing skater style dresses in Edinburgh AKA the windy city can sometimes be problematic and therefore a well fitted pair of cigarette trousers are always good to have!
Oversized bag – as aforementioned PR is an extremely fast paced industry and appointments can come up at the drop of a hat. I therefore always like to have my sturdy bag with me, packed with everything I need so that I am always prepared for whatever the day throws at me.
LBD – now no list of wardrobe essentials, worth its salt would be complete without mentioning that all important little black dress. It’s an absolute no brainer and can be dressed up or down with some statement accessories – perfect if you are planning on going for post work drinks!