Power Dressing!

Professional Image coverThe Professional Image
The Total Program for Marketing Yourself Visually

Dressing for success 1980s style! You can’t miss with your power suit and shoulder pads. Of course this needs to be weeded! Yes the basic information is pretty solid and for that matter timeless, but the examples are not going to work.  I even wonder if today’s workforce is even “buying” the idea of professional dress.


Professional Image front flap

Professional Image ankles and arches

Making an entrance

waist defining

men's ties


  1. Yes, please weed it and then find something newer. Then please send it to my HR department stat! Although I think they’re still using the one from the 1970s. It’s before my time, but I’ve been told by colleagues that women weren’t allowed to wear pants to work at my organization until after the year 2000. Sheesh!

  2. Luckily all I ever have to wear is scrubs, but I’m a little envious of the women in the front office (most in their 50s and 60s) who always manage to look so put-together, with their conservative dresses and power hair.

    Can someone write a book about good first impressions for the under-25 set? I’ve conducted interviews with “kids” who show up in jeans and sneakers, snapping gum and fussing with their hair, slouching all over the place, etc. And let’s not get started on the resumes with text-speak, misspellings and grammar errors. They’re not dumb – most of them are very smart, talented people, but it’s hard to get past that bad first impression.

  3. I’ve actually been on the receiving end of some current advice for job seekers regarding wardrobe (getting a Ph.D. soon, and I’ve got to start looking for work). I was actually told NOT to wear skirts. In my field (chemistry), sometimes a job candidate is required to give presentations on his or her graduate research. Because one cannot know the setup of the presentation room in advance, one does not, for example, want to be sitting on a raised platform in a skirt which may slide up and reveal more than one intended.

    I probably wouldn’t dress this way AFTER being hired, because it would be unsafe to wear open-toed shoes in a lab. But it can’t hurt to wear a (pants) suit to at least make a good first impression. And I did once have a summer job at a law firm where suits were required, even for paralegals and file clerks, on a daily basis. Still, this book, which was printed when I was 7 years old, is woefully out of date.

  4. This is the first I’ve heard of the “corporate uniform of the ’70s” but I admire their correct use of the apostrophe. I guess that went out of style in the ’80s too.

  5. Love that the male model also shaved off his mustache. We’ll have none of those disco mustaches in our pristine 80s offices, thankyouverymuch!

    These pictures take me back to my childhood in the 80s. My mother was into these books and anxiously told me I had to dress like this when I had a “real” job.

    Well, Flash forward some years and at most of my jobs, I’ve been able to wear jeans and look extremely wide. Times, they do change and that’s all right by me!

  6. There are still a number of places that have dressy dress codes–I believe it’s more in the larger cities like NYC and DC where it’s most common.
    As a fiction writer, I wouldn’t mind snapping this up as a reference, though a lot of historical fashion info is available online. But yeah, I’d say weedable.

  7. Some guys can make a mustache work. That guy definitely ain’t one of ’em.

  8. The lack of partizan bitching about current standards in the comments is refreshing. Anyway, I agree with the weed-and-replace judgement. The replacement book should be one that addresses the peculiarities of different professions. As mentioned, some (legal) are always extremely formal for everyone and others (medical, laboratory) have specialized requirements for practicality/safety reasons.

  9. While I agree that the clothing is out of date, some of the advice is still good. I conducted an interview not too long ago and one of the job seekers showed up in a track suit and flip flops. I knew right then that there was no way I was going to hire her. I hope there’s something newer out there geared toward the younger set.

  10. That fashion advice is actually quite valid – those models do look much better in the outfits on the right. This book was probably fantastic for it’s time – if there was a recent update, I’m sure it would be worth getting.

  11. @Hitchhiker – I disagree. Going without pantyhose, no matter if the shoes are open toed or not, looks cheap and tawdry. If I’m dressing up I’m wearying nylons. And if anyone doesn’t like it, they can kiss my pantyhose covered butt.

    I like this book and while shoulder pads may no longer be in, a nice suit is always in style. Too bad most businesses today look like they’re the headquarters of Slobs Are Us.

  12. Though this book is completely out of date, the lessons in it are not. Even if you work in a casual place, you can look nice and make yourself look put together. I watch What Not to Wear, especially when they make over academics and teachers. Most of the tips from this book are stated in that show frequently–there are ways to not look fatter, ways to look put together, and ways to look like you care enough about yourself to bother.
    At our university, there are faculty who always complain about being mistaken for secretaries or students. I look at them and think “of course you do! You’re in jeans and a T-shirt.” Although, our administrative assistants aren’t allowed to wear jeans!
    I looked on Amazon and the most current version of this book is from 1997, though. I’m going to look for a similar book though. I love the side-by-side pictures with the same models, that the book is intended for an older audience, and that the models aren’t stick thin. I think it’s a good add for a professional collection.

  13. @ Jami and Hitchhiker – I have always been under the impression that if you are wearing stockings, you are automatically going to wear closed-toe pumps. Open-toed shoes have always appeared to me to be less “formal” so if you are wearing them, I’m assuming you are somewhere that you do NOT have to wear nylons, or wearing something they wouldn’t look right with, like a summer sundress. Who on earth wears nylons under a summer dress when it’s in the 90’s? I work for a worldwide retail bank, and dress guidelines specifically state that women are not to wear open-toed shoes. I usually opt for pants suits and either low-heeled pumps or, in the winter, heeled dress boots. We even have criteria for the blouses that can be worn under our suits. Corporate NYC ia not a place for sandals and facial hair.

  14. Also, as someone who has interviewed various people, I want to add that the best, most put-together outfit is useless if the person wearing it doesn’t actually care that much about their personal appearance. People (woman and men) who show up on time and dressed appropriately have little chance when they forget to button important (i.e., right over the bust) buttons on their blouses, show up with chipped nail polish (no nail polish is better), have bad breath, peeling belts, dirty necks and hands, or cannot keep eye contact. Ugh.

  15. Except for the age, that’s a great book to have–I’m in a class on human relations in organizations right now and we’re covering dress and body language. And actually, though it out-of-date, those illustrations with both to and what not to do would be useful for a great many people I know. Updated, of course.

    In a newer book, I like Lurker’s idea of talking about different professions, or one that would talk about current less-professional clothing (i.e. current business casual, or what’s businesslike but beneath the level of suits).

  16. I worked for IBM in the 80’s in Australia. We got a style manual, ladies were not to wear trousers, jangly jewelry or overtly bright eye shadow. We were alllowed to smoke at our desks though! Men were advised not to wear double breasted jackets if they were portly and facial hair for mean was frowned upon. We all wore suit jackets to work and had a special cupboard to hang them up in at our desk. The othe day I follwed somone into work who was wearing sheep skin boots with their tracksuit bottoms. All jobs have a uniform and learning what it is and how to make the best of it is important as people do judge a book by it’s cover, at least innitially.

  17. While there are a few work environments that require dressing very professionally, that is not the case in higher education in my area. Pantyhose is as rare as unicorns around here, worn mainly by women in their sixties. Sandals are worn all year as well.

  18. in winter, it is stylish to wear dark tights with open toed shoes. Those dress bootie-sandal things are very fashionable (I’m sure they have a name, but I don’t know it). Sheer, nude pantyhose is a no, though, with open-toed shoes.

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