Become A CPA

Become A CPA

B is for Black Tie and Body Language

by Kimberly D Scott | Aug 11, 2010

People living in the Northwest seem to be a laid back group.  Pemco Insurance, through their commercials, has made us laugh with the parodies of the Northwest lifestyle:  “sandals and socks guy,” or “pony-tailed software geek”.  Black tie and white tie invitations to parties may be rare in the Northwest, but are common in many places around the nation and world.   When you do get an invite, what do you need to know to make sure you dress and act appropriately?


Traditionally when an invitation stated ‘black tie’ it meant exactly that, men should wear a formal suit and black tie.  Today, it just means formal wear.  When an invite states ‘white tie’ this is the extreme formal occasion, think Fred Astaire.  Men could wear a tuxedo to either event, or to the theater, opera or ballet.  For a black tie event men could also choose to wear a black suit and tie.  Remember to wear dress shoes not tennis shoes (no matter what color they are).


What a woman wears to a black tie event depends on the local customs.  It could be a short cocktail dress or a long lavish gown.  With that much uncertainty, no wonder women are always concerned about what to wear!  If you are uncertain, ask the host or err on the dressier side.


For black tie optional, or semi-formal events you can wear dressy clothes instead of formal.  For business attire, think nice suit or a dress for women.  Business casual means dress pants and button up, or polo shirt for men.  For women, dress pants or skirt and dressy top or sweater is appropriate. 


Whether you are attending a special event or are interacting with coworkers in your office, pay attention to your body language. Maintain an appropriate distance (at least an arm’s length) from those with which you are talking.


Good posture tells the world you are confident and feel good about yourself.  Avoid cracking your knuckles, tapping your foot, fidgeting, wiggling your nose, playing with your hair and other nervous twitches.  These habits are distracting and may be all a person remembers about you. It may be cute on a date, but disastrous in a job interview.


Crossing your arms can make you look bored, disagreeable or unengaged.  The last piece of advice-- and you have probably heard it a million times before---SMILE and smile often.  Smiling is universal, contagious and makes people feel welcome.

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