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Do you “dress to impress” on the job?


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

Yes, nurses get to wear comfy scrubs to work – score! But The Nerdy Nurse maintains that a comfortable uniform isn’t an excuse to slack off in the “getting ready and looking your best” department, and we have to agree.

When you take the time to look your best for work, you’re more likely to feel your best. And that’s just good business for both you and your workplace. In this regard, nursing is no different than any other profession.

Read what The Nerdy Nurse had to say about work attire in a recent blog post:

People who dress professionally and maintain their appearance project confidence, leadership, intelligence and a healthy degree of attractiveness in the eyes of any beholder. Not only are these theories supported by anecdotal evidence, but also by studies.

Dr. Frank Bernieri, an associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University, recently conducted just such a study in which he probed employers about the traits they deem most favorable in prospective applicants. Conservative, polished dress and a well groomed appearance was at the top of the list. Dr. Bernieri also found most employers make a decision in an interview about an applicant’s rightness for the job within 10-30 seconds of a first meeting.

This means you have literally the amount of time it takes your future boss to blink once or twice to impress them. And even after you get the job, ensuring your message of gravitas, integrity and efficiency remains strong is tantamount to staying crisp, coiffed, cuffed, clean—impeccably turned out at all times when on on the job.

Considering that many people have jobs entailing the use of uniforms, the same “laws” of cleanliness and professionalism also apply. Stained and wrinkled uniforms or scrubs send the wrong message about who you are. It’s quite alright if you fancy yourself relaxed and down-to-earth, but unwashed, smelly, soiled uniforms are not the way to project these qualities. Keep your uniforms laundered and fresh at all times, and allow your calm, laid-back, in-control personality to speak for itself.

Imagine you get pulled over by a cop. He approaches your vehicle wearing mud-splattered boots and dirty trousers bursting at the seams. Said cop has grease and dirt under his nails and ring around the collar. Who would take such a cop seriously? Who wouldn’t turn right around and report said nasty cop to his superiors? And wouldn’t such a cop get written up?

There’s a reason law enforcement and military personnel are held to the highest standards of cleanliness and appearance. Part of why all the rest of us respect them is because they are always – always – immaculate.

It’s not just the picture-perfect quality associated with soldiers and cops that turns our heads and gets our reverence. Tailored finery and polished hardware convey authority, strength, know-how, power and a go-get-’em quality. This is exactly what unblemished, well-fitting, brilliant uniforms or suits/outfits can do for any civilian.

It’s said clothes speak volumes to not only who you are but, more importantly, who you think you are and would like to be. This is the official version of yourself that impressive dress can help you send out to the world. It’s the first and last, most crucial detail people notice about you: A detail that clinches jobs and promotions for you…or not.

To read the rest of the article, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, tell us your own thoughts on how to “dress to impress” at work. What’s important and what’s just nice if you have time? Discuss!

The Nerdy Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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