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How to Dress Professionally in the Florida Keys

Posted on: January 10th, 2014 by Leah No Comments

Looking professional in a hot and humid climate can be challenging.  Although our Florida Keys attire tends to be more casual than mainland office apparel, it’s still important to look professional when you’re working in an office environment.  Consider who your customer is.   Often in the Florida Keys, those customers are tourists and snowbirds from other parts of the country who have a certain expectation of what their banker, real estate agent, or attorney should look like.  Dressing inappropriately can reflect poorly on both you and your company.  If you want to be taken seriously and make a positive impression on your clients and customers, you need to dress the part.

If clothes could talk, what would they say about you?

The reality is clothes do talk and they speak volumes about who you are.  Your appearance is as essential as a well crafted resume or years of experience.  Consequently, your clothing is an important piece of your professional brand that defines who you are.  In a world that is more and more image obsessed, the first impression is largely based on your look.  Before you even articulate a sentence, assumptions are made about you based on something as miniscule as your nail color.  To impress your clients and customers, you must think about what you want your clothes to say about you.    Avoid attention getting pieces and instead focus on clothing that fits and flatters your body type.   If your clothing and shoes are in need of repair, then don’t wear them.  A pair of dirty worn out shoes would leave a customer with a negative impression.  Is that the image you want to portray?

No flip flops

Even in the Florida keys, refrain from wearing running shoes, flip-flops, and Crocs.  The rule of thumb is if you wear them to the pool or on a boat, you shouldn’t wear them to the office.  For men, loafers or topsiders  are the perfect Florida Keys footwear for casual office apparel.  Because we live in a more casual environment, nice sandals are also perfectly acceptable at the office.  If your toes are in dire need of a pedicure, don’t wear open toe shoes or sandals.  Instead, opt for loafers for men or closed toe heels for women until you can get your toes in check.

No bare shoulders

Skimpy tank tops and strapless dresses are a definite don’t for the office.  This doesn’t mean you can’t wear them, it means they need to be covered up in an office setting.  Lightweight, short sleeve or three quarter length cardigans and jackets are professional wardrobe staples which are perfect for layering over dresses and blouses.  By covering your shoulders with one of these items it will also serve to keep you warm in air-conditioned interiors and can easily be removed for a day-to-night look.

No cleavage or short skirts

Cleavage is a definite no in the office.  Not only is it best to leave a little to the imagination but showing a lot of cleavage does not gain you respect.  Likewise, short skirts are also not office appropriate.  Lord Balfour, a British nineteenth century politician said it best, “A good speech, like a woman’s skirt, should be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” Skirts should hit just above or below the knee.  In addition, sleeveless tops for women are just fine but should hit right at the shoulder and not be overly revealing.

What you should wear:

Women:

  • Dresses are a girl’s best friend in the Keys.  They’ll keep you cool and can be worn with sandals, flats or heels depending on the event and your preference.
  • Look for lightweight but wrinkle resistant fabrics that won’t show sweat.  Stay away from 100% linen because of the excessive wrinkling, and silk as this fabric shows sweat marks instantly.
  • Invest in a few lightweight cardigans and jackets to pull your entire professional wardrobe together.
  • Nude heels are a must.  They go with everything and will make your legs look longer and leaner.

Men:

  • Khakis with button-down shirts are always stylish and will keep you looking polished and professional.  Try button-down shirts in a fun pattern.  Many button-down shirts have added some excitement by making the underside of the cuff an entirely different pattern.  When you flip up the cuff of your shirt, the pattern shows and can be very stylish for work apparel.
  • Polo shirts are a classic for men in the Keys.  And if you work in a more laid back office setting where shorts are permissible, a polo shirt if the perfect accoutrement.

You owe it to yourself to shine as brightly as you can.  Now it’s time to dress the part.

MacKinzie Ash expertly dresses professionally for an Islamorada Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

MacKinzie Ash expertly dresses professionally for an Islamorada Chamber of Commerce luncheon.