Tips for looking more professional

  1. Looking for tips and advice for students getting ready for the real world (and really all nurses) looking to change their look to something more appropriate to the workforce.

    I am thinking I need a shorter, sleeker haircut as I have really curly hair that I have to wear in a ponytail or a bun at clinical which to me does not scream professionalism at all. My face is not flattered by hair tight up.

    Also thinking it may be time to scrap the jeans and sweatshirts in class and in the community and maybe time to start to wear a touch of makeup every day. I always seem to run into healthcare professionals at the darndest times and I look like my teenagers.

    Any ideas to students and nurses alike lookling to update their appearances?

    Thanks everyone!!
    Last edit by kukukajoo on Mar 31, '07
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  2. 71 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    I've often thought the same thoughts. Unfortunately, those jeans and t shirt are so convenient. I think it is like any other change, losing weight, adopting new good health habits, you have to make a conscious effort and stick with it.
  4. by   gonzo1
    Some students came to school everyday in their pajamas, some came dressed up in suits. Only you can decide what is right for you. Long hair can be good because you can wear it up in a "bun" with clips, which always looks nice. I have long hair and always wear it in a pony tail or up, as do a lot of my fellow nurses.
    I have noticed over the years though that the nicer you are dressed, the better people treat you. Do a little experiment and get dressed up really nice and go to the mall and see the difference in how you are treated by sales people etc. I did this once and was quite amazed.
    Based on how your experiment goes you may decide to "clean up". Also I have friends that always dressed up and wore suits on test days. said it psyched them up and they did better on tests.
  5. by   queen47
    here, student nurses wear uniform
  6. by   kukukajoo
    This is my point! Pretty soon, i'll be hitting up the few employers in the healthcare idustry here for a job. I want to look like I am ready for the workforce, not like I am ready for a nap!

    When I worked in offices, it was very corporate and I had to dress very professional- designer suits, pantyhose, makeup every day, no open shoes, etc. I have a closet full of them but they are too over the top for everyday and most don't fit at the moment anyhow!

    I think I am trying to find a business casual/relaxed casual style and have no idea how to go about it as I have nothing in the middle in my own wardrobe. It's all corporate, or jeans sewaters and sweatshirts.

    My hair looks okay up for a little bit, but by the end of the day looks a mess and it also makes me look chunkier. It may be fine for some, but I really think I need to go shorter to like a curly angled bob or something.

    Quote from gonzo1
    I have noticed over the years though that the nicer you are dressed, the better people treat you. Do a little experiment and get dressed up really nice and go to the mall and see the difference in how you are treated by sales people etc. I did this once and was quite amazed.
  7. by   HM2VikingRN
    When I am at clinical I always think of it as I am auditioning for a job with this facility....
  8. by   Snugglibumkins
    I think it's possible to look and feel comfortable and relaxed, but also confident and put together. Jeans and T-shirts should have a place in your wardrobe if that's what you like. Nice cut jeans with a belt, and a solid colored (layered is nice, too) t-shirt. Stay away from shirts with sayings on them, no matter how cute they might be - they scream 'high school student' to me. You can get some inexpensive, but put-together looks from Old Navy (again, you have to be careful you don't purchase the teenager styles!), or my favorites are Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft and J Jill.

    As far as more professional during clinical hours, you can't go wrong with a clean, not wrinkled uniform with clean shoes and name tag showing.

    Hair is tough. I like my shoulder length hair for the fun things that I can do with it. But during working hours, as much of it as possible is clipped up. Try to learn how to put it up in a clip or bun, or something more adult than a pony tail. Even pulling it together at the nape of your neck looks much better than a sitting on top of your head pony tail. LOL when my 3 year old started wearing her hair in a pony tail, I had mine in one too and a girlfriend of mine was feeling snarky one day and told me if it looks adorable on Megan, than I probably shouldn't be wearing it.

    I didn't really start wearing make-up until the year I had my third baby and turned 30 all at once. I decided I needed to do a little something about always having the tired look. So I went somewhere to learn how to apply make-up and take care of my skin. The frugal person in me says 'whooppee, Wal-mart's got some really inexpensive Cover girl, or whatever brand' but seriously, you will spend a ton finding the right colors that work for you. I recommend going to a Sephoria (I wear Bare Esentials) and having them show you what looks best on you. Get the expensive face powder (it's all natural and one small container will last you for over a year, as opposed to pressed, over the counter type make-up, which you have to toss every 3-6 months), and learn how to add less expensive eye shadows, mascara, blush and lip gloss - go with neutral shades, your make up should define you face and bring out your natural features. Someone should comment on how well-rested you look, or how pretty your eyes are, not how great that purple eye shadow looks on you.

    When I look good, I feel good. I work with a lot of post partum depression moms. We teach them that a shower and clean clothes is the first step to feeling better. And no - pj pants or sweats do not count as 'clean clothes'.

    Good luck.
  9. by   llg
    I agree that you are smart to strive for a comfortable "middle ground" when planning your wardrobe and general appearance. Going to either extreme (too casual or too formal) is usually not the best choice.

    One thing a lot of nurses forget to consider is how they look on workdays during which they are not in uniform (or scrubs). For example, you will be going into work for educational days, staff meetings, etc. I've known staff nurses who were quite good at their jobs and well-respected who look just fine when they wear their scrubs. But when they come in for a educational program, they look totally inappropriate and unprofessional. That doesn't help their professional image and doesn't help them appear to be ready for greater responsibilities, a promotion, etc.

    Some hospitals have dress codes that prohibit jeans on educational days, so, I wouldn't wear jeans into the hospital unless you see members of the nursing team doing so. Choose nice trousers, skirt, or dress. Tight fitting t-shirts are also usually a big no-no -- as is anything extremely baggy. Aim for the middle ground. A dressy jersey, a sweater, or a blouse is better. Depending on the style (and your body), you might include a jacket, cardigan, shirt-jacket, or vest to make a skirt or trouser outfit look more "polished."

    Avoid anything overtly sexy and/or anything that draws excessive attention to your body. You want the focus to be on your abilities, not on your body. Remember that you are seeking respect, not a sex partner. Some younger nurses dress in the same type of clothes they would wear to a nightclub or on a date. Except for a sensible neckline, you shouldn't be showing any skin above your knees. Shirts and low-rise pants that expose you waist are not appropriate for work. (You would be surprised how many young nurses we have who need to be told this.)

    Also consider sensible shoes when you are wearing "street clothes" to work. Older, experienced nurses in leadership positions are fully aware that high, spikey heels might be fashionable; but we have learned that they are not practical in the workplace. Young nurses who wear them on educational days, etc. may think they look "hot" and that sensible shoes look "frumpy," -- but wearing the impractical shoes simply makes the wearer look foolish to those with experience. If you are going on a date and want to look hot, wear the sexy shoes. But if you want to be respected in the workplace, wear the sensible ones.

    While you might get that first job based mostly on your interview and resume, your reputation is a bigger factor in any subsequent jobs and promotions you might get within the same institution. ---- And your reputation is earned on a daily basis.

    Good luck! Happy shopping!
  10. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from kukukajoo
    This is my point! Pretty soon, i'll be hitting up the few employers in the healthcare idustry here for a job. I want to look like I am ready for the workforce, not like I am ready for a nap!

    When I worked in offices, it was very corporate and I had to dress very professional- designer suits, pantyhose, makeup every day, no open shoes, etc. I have a closet full of them but they are too over the top for everyday and most don't fit at the moment anyhow!

    I think I am trying to find a business casual/relaxed casual style and have no idea how to go about it as I have nothing in the middle in my own wardrobe. It's all corporate, or jeans sewaters and sweatshirts.

    My hair looks okay up for a little bit, but by the end of the day looks a mess and it also makes me look chunkier. It may be fine for some, but I really think I need to go shorter to like a curly angled bob or something.
    Try stuff from Lands' End or Eddie Bauer. Casual but tailored look, and their stuff lasts for years, so while it might be a little more up front, you'll have basic pieces that will last you for years. I have several that I have worn to interviews.
  11. by   RNfaster
    I used to live and work at a biotech in California (San Francisco), where everyone wore jeans to work - even the executives at the very top. To do otherwise was to look like a "stuffed shirt," someone interviewing, or an outsider. I recently came from another technical company where jeans were just fine. I think you can look nice and professional in jeans (not too tight or too low-cut, however), but because of what I keep hearing professionals in healthcare saying, I am going to try to go a bit more dressy --maybe with Dickies trousers, or other pants that are not jeans, and a nice button-down shirt or sweater set.

    I think the idea behind the jeans to work was to emphasize a flattening of the hierarchies, and teamwork. Clothes often are used as status symbols (e.g., when buying designer clothing, etc., that the general masses cannot afford). Jeans are durable clothes that are used by folks that often work very hard, as are scrubs. If everyone from the top to the bottow wears the same thing, I do think it can build teamwork, and make all folks feel as though they are very valuable contributors.

    Just my two cents.
  12. by   traumaRUs
    Each industry has a different dress code. Banking and accounting are typical "dressy" careers. Healthcare falls a little lower on the fashion totem pole IMHO.

    I am an advanced practice nurse who works with MDs in a professional environment daily. I have to look professional yet be comfortable to run a code, insert IVs and do patient care all at the same time. The one place that I absolute love is Lands End - they have comfortable, machine washable clothes that fit me and look good too. I do wear comfortable shoes and just discovered the Sofftt brand - and boy do they look nice but are so comfortable.

    As to my hair: I personally have stick-straight fine hair. I currently wear it chin-length but am going shorter soon to look a little more polished. I don't remember anyone mentioning this but I also have my hair colored professionally every six weeks. Youth is in and the reason I was hired for my current job was that they thought I was 10 years younger than I really am. (I want to make it clear that I have no problem with looking my age, just that it helps to appear youthful and full of energy). For make-up, I use Clinique and also use Revlon long-lasting eye shadow.
  13. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from traumaRUs
    Each industry has a different dress code. Banking and accounting are typical "dressy" careers. Healthcare falls a little lower on the fashion totem pole IMHO.

    I am an advanced practice nurse who works with MDs in a professional environment daily. I have to look professional yet be comfortable to run a code, insert IVs and do patient care all at the same time. The one place that I absolute love is Lands End - they have comfortable, machine washable clothes that fit me and look good too. I do wear comfortable shoes and just discovered the Sofftt brand - and boy do they look nice but are so comfortable.

    As to my hair: I personally have stick-straight fine hair. I currently wear it chin-length but am going shorter soon to look a little more polished. I don't remember anyone mentioning this but I also have my hair colored professionally every six weeks. Youth is in and the reason I was hired for my current job was that they thought I was 10 years younger than I really am. (I want to make it clear that I have no problem with looking my age, just that it helps to appear youthful and full of energy). For make-up, I use Clinique and also use Revlon long-lasting eye shadow.
    Absolutely agree. I have sweater sets and twill pants that have carried me through interviews; they last and last. I got one sweater from Eddie Bauer about 8y ago and it is still in their fall catalog every year. About a year or two ago I was in their store and I happened to have it on and the clerk did a double take and said, "Hey, that's our sweater!" I assured him it had long since been paid for.
  14. by   Gennaver
    Quote from kukukajoo
    This is my point! Pretty soon, i'll be hitting up the few employers in the healthcare idustry here for a job. I want to look like I am ready for the workforce, not like I am ready for a nap!

    When I worked in offices, it was very corporate and I had to dress very professional- designer suits, pantyhose, makeup every day, no open shoes, etc. I have a closet full of them but they are too over the top for everyday and most don't fit at the moment anyhow!

    ...
    Might try incorporating just "some" of the pieces into your regular routine so that you are not over the top but, get back into it.

    I have always liked how a uite-style jacket and nice top with a pair of jeans is a drastic change from topping them off with a t-shirt. Although, I have not done this myself.

    Then again, contemporary casual is always welcomed, isn't it?

    Gen

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