[IMGCAP(1)]While the comments and feedback I receive from my Fashion & Finance blog posts are generally positive, and readers seem to be interested in the content I have to share (especially women in the workforce who deal with more dress codes issues than men), some CPAs just don’t understand how fashion and accounting go together.

I have experienced that the reason some people don’t “get it” often boils down to not only a generational difference, but a gender one. Men have it a bit easier, with less wardrobe restrictions in the workplace than their female counterparts, and may not understand some of the issues they face. Also, younger employees seem to be more confused about what is appropriate and what is not, while some older employees don’t always see the value in learning to dress well, understanding what suits their body type best, or why cultivating a personal style can be a powerful tool.

So, why does dressing well at work matter, and why does a little fashion education support professional development? Let’s take a look.

•    If you want to be promoted, it matters. From an article on CNN.com, it’s stated that in a CareerBuilder.com survey, 41 percent of employers said that people who dress better or more professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization. Along with your technical and leadership skills, ability to work with others, and personality, image can be one of the most important factors to showing management where you want to go within your firm or organization.
•    The perceptions that your clients, co-workers and other business acquaintances have of you can be largely based on how you dress. Want to be taken seriously? Dress the part. Want to be seen as sloppy, unorganized and apathetic? Again, there are ways to dress the part! How do you want to be seen?
•    Dressing professionally in the office helps project a motivated, thoughtful and intelligent appearance, which can give you the confidence to succeed and be taken seriously.
•    There can be an ROI in fashion. Read this personal account of why dressing to impress can make a difference.
•    Clothing and good grooming habits are primary instruments in creating a positive first impression.
•    According to an online source, 65 percent of bosses say that dress could be the deciding factor between two similar job candidates
•    A competitive business climate means you may have to stand out. So, looking your very best, and showing off your most polished self, can’t hurt.
•    Dressing professionally and crafting a polished professional style demonstrates respect for yourself and others.
•    Professional development can be accomplished both inside and out. Never stop learning how you can improve, develop and grow as a working professional.

So, while not all readers of Accounting Today and Accounting Tomorrow may care for fashion advice or style suggestions, many see the value in a professional appearance and appreciate some guidance on how to get there.

With an eye on the young, up-and-coming accountant, it’s fantastic that Accounting Tomorrow can focus on the ever-evolving generational dynamics in firms and companies today, and offer up blog posts from a number of authors who have different experiences in the industry. I’m happy to be able to offer up my own!

Emily Burns Perryman is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-Marketing Communications Specialist for Freed Maxick CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and was named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickCPAs or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.