Stephanie Heckman

How to Dress for the Communications Industry

In Career, Marketing, Public Relations, Style on March 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Every wonder how to dress for PR, marketing or other communications field?

1. If you aren’t sure, just don’t go there.

Crenshaw Communications says that if you’re asking whether it’s “too big, too short or too shiny, it might be too much.” There’s many ways to express your personal style without seeming inappropriate, too bold or sexy. If you have any uncertainty, ask a friend or snap a picture of yourself. Sometimes, seeing a photo is all you need to erase any doubts.

PR Daily says to never become “that person” whose outfits are always the topic of workplace conversation. You want to be seen as stylish but always professional and never over-the-top with your outfits. Try expressing your personal style through subtle patterns or accessories, not through anything too bold or inappropriate.

2. Never doubt the power of cute flats.Image

Why cause yourself unnecessary pain? Find cute, comfortable flats that you can run all over town in. If you, like me, have small heels or feet, choose heel inserts to prevent chaffing. Heels might seem more professional but it won’t be cute when you’re feet are blistering or you are stumbling around the office. You might try keeping a pair of heels under your desk or changing into flats if you need to run work errands. On the opposite spectrum, you shouldn’t be wearing flip flops, casual sandals or Toms to work, in almost any workplace environment. A noted exception is Google or another extremely casual tech company.

3. Never doubt how amazing a blazer can make you look.


Have you ever seen anyone look unprofessional in a blazer? A blazer can dress up anything: jeans, t-shirt, even a tank top. To get the most use out of a blazer, choose one that is not too tight in the shoulders, waist or hips and doesn’t pull when you stretch or move around. Pick a high-quality fabric that will work for any season. I have a basic grey blazer but I always own ones in cobalt blue, white and black stripes and other colors. It’s a great way to dress up any look or to add color to something monochromatic.

4. You can never go wrong with a dress.


I have yet to see anyone look unprofessional in a well-made, nicely-cut dress. I prefer dresses with short sleeves or no sleeves, a natural waist and a slight flair. Dress it up with a skinny belt at the waist. I think a vintage cut always looks classy and flatters every body type. Black dresses are always in style but a beautiful color or quirky pattern work well in creative industries. Just make sure that it’s close to the knee and never low-cut or tight all over. Pair it with a quality pair of tights in the winter. If sleeveless, pair it with an appropriate cardigan or blazer.

5. Great button-ups are always necessary.

It doesn’t matter if it’s white, black, striped, polka dot, cotton or silky. Button-ups (or as some people say, button-downs) always look classy and professional. The one rule to remember is to choose shirts that are never too tight. If it pulls at the chest or waist, choose one size up, even it seems to big. A loose look is more trendy, but you can always tuck it in, belt it or tie it if it seems too loose. Never forget the power of a good tailor. While a classic white button-up should be in every closet, I like to spruce up with various colors and patterns. Pair your button-up shirt or blouse with a pencil skirt, slacks or even dark skinny jeans on a casual Friday.

6. Find a way to express your style, no matter your office’s image.

Personally, I love polka dots and floral prints. If I worked for a conservative office, I could still express my style by choosing a dress with a subtle floral print or pairing a conservative black dress with polka dot flats. There’s always a way to express your style without seeming inappropriate. Many consider jewelry or scarves to be an easy way to incorporate style into your work clothes.

7. If all else fails, throw on a cardigan.


I’ve never understood why so many people don’t wear cardigans. They are comfortable, always weather-appropriate depending on the materials, affordable and an easy way to change your look. I have cardigans in red, white with black striping, navy, black and other colors. It may give you extra style cred if your cardigan is in a cute but appropriate pattern or a basic striped style. I think cardigans look great over dresses, button-ups, t-shirts and essentially anything.

8. Make sure you have a great pair of jeans.

Like PR Diva recommends, a great pair of jeans is part of the “publicist’s uniform.” It doesn’t necessarily matter how much you paid for them, although a more expensive part is likely to last longer. What does matter is that they are professional: no holes, no tears, no fading. Choose something that is style but not overtly trending, well-made, nicely fitted and dark wash. Pair it with a great shirt, blazer and flats.

9. Finally, if in doubt, throw on some red lipstick.

If paired with simple or minimal makeup, it’s impossible not to look both professional and glamorous in a coat of red lipstick. If you wear it every day, it might just become part of your personal style.

  1. […] How to dress for the communications industry […]

  2. Reblogged this on Z Group PR :: Public Relations and commented:
    Love this blog post! Every wonder how to dress for PR, marketing or other communications field? Well, no, because I have expended great energy to develop a sophisticated sense of style (as I type on the couch in my sweats). But I am ever-grateful that I was able to attend a seminar called Boob, Bra-Straps and Butt-Cracks in my youth. A stylish (and hilarious) women presented this seminar at a Chamber of Commerce event so long ago, I can’t remember which company I was representing, but the theme stayed with me. “If you dress too sexy at work, people might be confused as to what it is you are selling.” Having mentored many successful young women in her company, she understood that book smarts and street smarts did not necessarily equate to fashion smarts. So the advice that I have always given is that if we can see your boobs, your bra-strap or you butt-crack, no one is focusing on your brain. With the challenges that women face in the workforce, I know this can all be so confusing! We hear to be ourselves but then are shortchanged if we are too feminine. I personally am sexy. It works for me, personally, but has definitely worked against me professionally. For years I dressed much older and purposely bought stuffy clothes to balance out my clingy, animal print leaning. I am old enough now to feel comfortable somewhere in the middle of hot mom and schoolmarm, but it has not always been easy. I love the tips included in the blog. My favorite piece of advice? Consider it a ‘button-up,’ not a ‘button down.’

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