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"Darker colors with minimal patterns are typically your safest choices. In the office, I’d suggest darker muted colors, like dark gray, navy, or dark brown with relatively few patterns or bright, flashy colors."

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In business, image is everything. Well, not exactly everything, but it’s a good chunk of it! Appearances can sway a person or be used to cultivate a certain perception or mindset. These can be highly advantageous from a business standpoint. Of course, there’s so much more to being a professional as a Catholic in the way of conduct. But, as humans, we tend to gravitate towards that which is pleasing and agreeable. This can be a valuable tool for the Catholic man or woman seeking to put their best foot forward.

Being Catholic means demonstrating charity towards everyone and showing that you take your obligations seriously and treat those with whom you associate respectfully. Dressing professionally can be an act of charity because it conveys a genuine regard for other people and for your own dignity. So, here are some tips to implement in your daily dressing routine.

Subtlety Not Strutting

Most workplaces have a dress code. However, if the code is lax (as they often can be today), I’d recommend opting to look more professional. Darker colors with minimal patterns are typically your safest choices. In the office, I’d suggest darker muted colors, like dark gray, navy, or dark brown with relatively few patterns or bright, flashy colors. (See here for more in-depth professional styling ideas for men, and here for women’s styling ideas).

Also, don’t be afraid to express yourself a little! – within reason. This can help show your clients, boss, or coworkers that you can both be a professional worker and still be yourself. Especially for clients, this can feel refreshing, be a good conversation starter, and a helpful relationship builder!

It’s Always Better To Dress Up Than Down

You might have some fear of standing out. That’s normal! The fact is, most people appreciate the care someone takes in how he or she appears. A man in clean khaki trousers and a blazer looks more put together than one in torn jeans and a T-shirt. Again, there will be exceptions depending on the industry and what is deemed workplace appropriate, but typically dressing up is a safer option.

Even when outside the office, elevated attire is preferable; you never know who you might meet in public! From a professional point of view, especially for a young professional, every moment in public is an opportunity to network. That doesn’t mean perpetually scouting for opportunities. It simply means being prepared to have a potential job opportunity cross your path at any given moment. Hence, why I recommend dressing up rather than dressing down. 

Your Actions Must Match Your Attire

At the end of it all, what you wear and how you wear it means little if your behavior is lacking. By behavior, I mean the normal modes of conduct and courtesy. Minding your “Ps and Qs”, so to speak. Being a diligent worker, a considerate person, a respectful and effective communicator; these will be the hallmark of your true professionalism and your Christian charity.

While it is true that we shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover”, we should always be expected to be judged as such. Our contents will prove our true worth, of course, but how we appear on the outside will nearly always be an indication of the sort of person we are. So, it is important that we take the steps to try and align ourselves on both fronts to not only make a good first impression, but a lasting and continual one.

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