The Top 5 Office Grooming Blunders – and how to avoid them.



By Mandy Lehto


Disguising a thinning thatch?  Or feigning holiday skin with mega-doses of self-tan?  Think you look groomed and professional? Think again.

In my corporate work, I advise companies and individuals on keeping their image up to scratch.  Part of that dialogue concerns grooming.

In feedback I’ve collected anonymously throughout my corporate image work, here’s a list of real examples – women commenting on male colleagues, and vice versa – about the 5 main ways in which our grooming lets us down at work.

What Women Notice About Men’s Grooming:

1. B.O. – the acronym nobody loves.

I begin with a quote from an unknown UPS man.  Picture this:  packed lift; hot day.  Someone had clearly recycled yesterday’s shirt and hit the snooze button once too often, forfeiting his shower time.  Everyone looked at their shoes, breathing as shallowly as possible.

At his stop, the UPS man, laden with envelopes and packages, said ‘Dudes, one of you is seriously ripe,’ before stepping off the lift to the freedom of fresh air.

A study from the Metro newspaper in 2007 found that one in four men did not shower daily.  Don’t be that guy.

2.   Don’t be a heel.

Ever stand on escalators?  If you do, you know it’s a welcome lag time in our busy lives. You spend a moment assessing the person in front of you.  We notice when the heels of your shoes are worn down to the wood, gents.  Take a moment now – go on – and check that your shoes don’t need a spa-day at Timpsons.

3. B.B.

Even if you don’t have B.O., the other bodily odour to avoid is Bad Breath.  Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss nightly.  Invest in a tongue scraper from Boots.  While you’re there, pick up a handy Retardex breath spray to keep you fresh after spicy lunches, or before important meetings.  But spray discreetly, and preferably in private – not as you’re entering a meeting room.

4.  Follicular faux-pas

Most of us are switched on about the no-no called the comb-over.  But they’re still around, as are the ‘comb-forwards’, another unfortunate variation.

If you’ve got a thinning thatch, do two things: admit it; and get the right haircut.  A good hairdresser knows the drill.

One other thing: look out for the tufts of hair growing on the back of your neck.  And ensure that you check your ears, nose and eyebrows regularly for straggly hairs.  People notice.

5.  Sartorial Savvy

French cuffs get noticed on shirts.  If yours are frayed, yellowed or shabby, prepare to part ways with that shirt.  Same goes for collars.  I’ve had several women comment that cheap shirts make a poor impression.

Both men and women say that they notice stains on the suits, shirts and ties of their male colleagues.  Ensure yours are pristine.







Other common grooming blunders to avoid, gents:

-flaky facial skin

-shaving foam in ear (or flaky skin in ears)

-dry skin on knuckles, cuticles and hands, in general

-bitten, dirty or ungroomed nails



What Men Notice About Women’s Grooming:

1.  Too much slap

Wearing make up sends a clear and positive message that you’re serious and professional.  But men in my corporate image workshops often note that wearing too much – or poorly-applied – make up is a grooming disaster for women.

So is wearing too much (or again, poorly-applied) self-tan.  Pale beats orange any day.

  1.  Barely there office-wear

Save your camisoles, crop-tops and flip flops for the beach.  Bare midriffs and the office don’t mix.  Full stop.

  1.  Too-small clothes

Gents have also pointed out that sometimes women in their offices squeeze into clothes that seem too small.  They’d look better, and probably slimmer, in a bigger size.  Interesting…and true.

4. Nail it

It’s official: people notice hands.  Both genders always comment on hands in corporate workshops.  Bitten fingernails, or indeed chipped nail varnish make the top 5 grooming blunder list.  So too do garish nail polish colours and too-long fake nails.

nail art






5. ‘Stripy’ hair

If you colour your hair, it’s a commitment, isn’t it?  Grown-out highlights, especially very obvious ones, do you no favours in the grooming department, ladies.  Pre-book your next appointment if that helps.


Other common grooming bloopers, ladies:

-too much jingly jewellery

-excessive perfume – you may love it….

-fallen hems on skirts (repair with cello-tape to get you through the day)

-scuffed, worn or dirty shoes and heels

-ladders in tights


What other grooming blunders do you notice in the corporate workplace?


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