Original Post: October 23, 2013
Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.~ Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Costumes tend to lend a sense of false security! What other time are we encouraged to be liberated behind a mask or an array of clothing, to release our inner inhibitions, all under the guise of fun?! But, the Account supervisor who donned her favorite purple “Lady Godiva” cape is probably rethinking her decision after she showcased her costume in full regale sans undergarments at the post work office party… or make that sheer flesh toned undies! Not only were her private parts on display but her professional standing and morality as well. Indeed her fall from grace had much to do with her fall from respect in the eyes of her coworkers, her superiors and her team.
Although this is the time of year when we are certainly allowed to contradict and poke fun at our everyday demeanor with fake tattoos, outrageous hair and/or earring ornaments, we must also bear in mind that even fun can become a threat if an unspoken protocol and/or expected behavioral boundary is crossed. Rather to err on the side of modesty than to be caught resembling the emperor without enough covering and lacking the wisdom to realize that the world is laughing at, not with you.
Here are some tips for the season’s festivities that will allow you to have fun without compromising your professionalism:
1. If it calls for a costume, don’t show up as you! You will not only dampen the spirits of the other party-goers, you risk appearing snobbish, separate from the team and making everyone regret that your invitation didn’t get lost in the mail!
2. Keep your fetishes and exhibitions hidden! Avoid any provocative or controversial costumes. Ladies resist wearing see-through ANYTHING!! Also nix too short or too low. Gentlemen should not use this time to make a political statement or poke fun at groups, niches or anything that could be interpreted as poor taste.
3. If you leave home in full regalia, be certain that you are not the ONLY one who is doing so! Clients should feel that they entered a seasonally festive environment not the work space of Wilhelmina Weirdo. Bring a change of clothes if there is any chance you will be called out for a client meeting.
4. Don’t call unnecessary attention to yourself with gadgets that are childish and unbecoming to you as a professional. While a fake toy whistle may be okay, a squirting boob is not. Also, if you are an Executive or CEO, skip clothing or trinkets that show off your tattoos, piercings or similar items.
5. Always remember that in this period of social media, you could be viral before you know it! Think about every repercussion of your actions and dress, not just for this event, but for your lifetime. Something’s are just too important to risk!
6. People view guests as an extension of you. If you bring a guest to a function, if necessary, discuss acceptable boundaries and behaviors before arriving at the event! Even if you are new to the company or the person is new to you, it is your responsibility that they not offend. While you may not be able to control their social interactions or manners, be prepared to leave if their behavior threatens your credibility in any manner whether through too much drink, or inappropriate conversations and/or behavior.
7. Remember, that just because you are playing dress up does not excuse unprofessional behavior. Things said behind the mask are still, things said. Never allow an occasion to “undress” your professional presence.
I am Pamela Coopwood, and I am “Speaking of Protocol”