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5 Tiny Turn-offs that Sabotage Your Professional Image

By Kimberly Law, AICI CIP


Happy about it or not, you will always be judged by others within the first few seconds of meeting them. And because you are presenting a whole package, everything has an impact - and anything distracting or out of place can sabotage your professional image. So it isn't only what you wear that matters; alone or together, those little details make a big statement as well.

Although it is great to dress in a way that reflects your personality, some people take it to the extreme and don't consider the occasion or their objective at the time. This can affect how you are perceived. Others may feel uncomfortable around you if you don't fit their expectations. So, even though your personality is important, you need to take the purpose of the occasion into consideration. If you are unsure of the appropriate way to dress for the occasion, consider your goals first and dress accordingly, or follow the lead of others; then add a few finishing touches that reflect your personality.

A good fit is also crucial. It doesn't matter how gorgeous or well-made a garment is: if it doesn't fit properly, it won't look good. You are not going to look well put-together; and you are definitely not going to look credible. If it almost fits, consider having it altered. Minor alterations will make an outfit look more expensive. Even changing the buttons on a jacket can make a big difference. Alterations can make your clothing look more expensive and make you look more successful.

The condition of your clothing and accessories is also very important. Often we will throw things on without checking if they are wrinkled or faded, if the hem is being held up by safety pins, or if the shoes are scuffed. These are all things that can send a negative message about your image and you. If you are sloppy about the way you dress and the way you take care of your clothing, you may be perceived as being sloppy about the way you do your work and how you handle other things in your life, as well. Condition is very important.

Hygiene and Grooming are other things that are very important, and that are always noticed when neglected. Poor hygiene, or perceived poor hygiene, will immediately influence peoples' impression about you, and can hold your social and business interactions back. Hygiene includes anything to do with cleanliness such as body odor, teeth, breath, skin condition, dandruff, etc. Nobody wants to be around somebody that smells bad or looks dirty. Grooming such as hair care, make-up, and nail care are the finishing touches that complete our look.

Some of us forget that clothing and accessory styles change over time. Although it is easy to fall into the trap of continuing to wear a suit that you have had hanging in your closet for five years, it may look dated. Many men and women don't consider the subtle fashion changes that happen over time. The lapels, silhouettes, or the number of buttons for a modern look may have changed. For women, the jacket lengths or pant leg style may have changed. For business, clothing should never be flashy or extremely trendy; but at the same time it should be up-to-date and current.

Make the big statement projected by your little details a positive and professional one - it will impact your business dealings, and add to the overall success of your professional image.

Kimberly Law, AICI CIP is a Certified Professional Image and Etiquette Consultant and principal of Personal Impact International founded in 1999. She is an author and a speaker, and works with companies, men and women helping them refine their look from head to toe and enhance professional communication, to help her clients look and act their very best, always! She is one of only 125 image consultants world-wide and was the first in Western Canada to receive international recognition as a 'Certified Image Professional' through the Association of Image Consultants International ( She was elected to serve as AICI's President Elect for the 2010 - 2011 term. And has been has been featured as a personal image expert across Canada through the media. For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Kimberly Law at tel: 604-298-7228, mobile: 604-626-3907, email: visit or see Kimberly's Media Kit.