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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Business convention etiquette

While formal events my husband and I attend (largely with his organization) still provide me with plenty of writing material, I must say to be fair they are getting better.

More people show up for the day sessions dressed in appropriate business attire. Fewer people spend the aforementioned sessions making derogatory comments to their neighbors about all of it being baloney, how they've seen it all before and how they did so much better with the prior organization they were with. More people leave their cell phones and Blackberries behind altogether, and those who don't, remember to set them on vibrate. During the last 2-1/2 day event we attended I didn't hear a single ring tone, which was great. With that said...

Some people just don't get it


My delight at zero cell phone offenses was somewhat marred by a handful of dorks who walked around with their Bluetooth devices on. Let us approach this logically, You are not the Borg, so this thing is not implanted into your head and you don't need a holographic doctor to surgically remove it. Your phone is either off in which case you don't need your Bluetooth because no call can come through on a phone that is off. Or it's set on vibrate and the Bluetooth would ring in your ear in which case you also don't need your Bluetooth because you are in a big crowded room at a conference with people either presenting or applauding, so you wouldn't be able to hear anything even if you could take a call. Just take the thing out of your ear, turn it off and put it away...

Dreaded question - dreaded answer

"Honey, does this make my butt look big?" I have yet to hear about one man who is not afraid of this question and who knows how to talk his way out of it without ending up in an argument with his female significant other. Ladies, I don't even know why you bother asking. If the poor guy answers "yes" you'll yell at him for making you feel fat. If he answers "no" you'll yell at him for lying. We have scared our male companions to a point, where they would rather suffer through going out in public with us looking like crap than go through another "does this make my butt look bit" discussion or a variation thereof...

Ladies, stop pinning your insecurities and responsibility for them on your men. It is immature and unfair. Either educate yourself to make your own fashion decisions or if you really want honest feedback make it possible for the gentleman in your life to provide that feedback without fear for his life and well-being. Think how much more tolerant, humble and forgiving men are, when they ask us, "Does this tie go with this shirt?" Don't they deserve the same from us?

Please remember that there are some things about your wardrobe, makeup, hair and accessories, that your male significant other will never tell you either because he is too scared or too anxious to please or because he doesn't know any better, or all of the above.....

He will never tell you that anything super-tight and super-low-cut is not appropriate at a business event, be it a business suit a la Victoria's Secret during a daytime seminar or a short, tight, sparkly spandex Frederick's of Hollywood number with a plunging neckline and acres of leg on display at an evening function.....

He will never tell you that sparkly hairclips and your corkscrew California beach-blond hair might have looked adorable when you were fourteen but are not age-appropriate ten, let alone twenty and thirty years later.....

He will never speak up even if he realizes that those silver flip flops may have been darling at your laid back beach wedding, but they scream "I have no idea what an appropriate evening shoe is," when worn with a slick evening gown.....

He will never tell you that he realizes that you are not a dress kind of girl, but that wearing the same eternal black turtleneck and black pants at a glamorous gala is just not right. Especially if he is wearing a sharp suit and tie. How do you think he feels when he goes to greater lengths to look good and successful, than you do? How do you think he feels when your insecurity to show a little bit of leg or unwillingness to invest in a nice evening pantsuit (they do exist) is dragging down how you look together as a couple? Think about that the next time you dig up the old "I hate skirts" and "I don't do dressy" excuses.

She doesn't know everything and she is not always right


Gentlemen, it is truly touching that you put such faith in our fashion sense and our knowledge of social etiquette. However, doing so blindly may not be the best idea, unless you have heard from multiple reputable unbiased sources that your chosen female partner has great taste and impeccable social sense. She may think she possesses those virtues, but she may be wrong.....

If she tells you that jeans are acceptable at a business conference, as long as they are paired with a button-down shirt, she is wrong. Even if you throw in a jacket she is still wrong...

If she tells you that slacks, shirt and tie and a sweater on top are ok when the invitation says "black tie", she is wrong. A tie does not make an outfit black-tie appropriate, even if it is actually black. "Black tie" means a tux or a nice suit with a nice shirt and a tie. Period.

If she tells you that a shirt unbuttoned to the middle of your chest combined with lots of heavy jewelry is sexy maybe it is to her and in the privacy of your
home. It is inappropriate in a business setting as in "aging playboy" inappropriate. I don't think that is an image you want to project, regardless of how sexy she says it is.

If she tells you that no one will notice that your shoes haven't been shined since you bought them, she is wrong. You may think that nobody notices such things, but actually people do. You won't believe how scuffed up dirty shoes can ruin your entire outfit. The same goes for a torn hem of your pants, a wrinkled
shirt or a missing button.

Smile, you are on candid camera!


With the advent of all things digital, more and more organizations large and small film and/or record their major events for posterity and for the benefit of those who couldn't attend, especially if an event contains an educational section. If an event is being filmed, one must be on one's best behavior even if sitting in the audience let alone on stage. So, if you are going to be presenting at an event that will be filmed, even if you are only going to be in the spotlight for five minutes, even if you are a person handing out awards, ah, forget it if your foot comes as far as two feet within the stage, dress and act accordingly. Check all your buttons, check your fly, check your clothes for any spots, stains, rips, loose threads, etc. GET RID OF THE GUM! It does not matter if you are just there as stage furniture be a classy piece of furniture.

Seriously, while your position and lifestyle drive your image, your image also can and will drive your position and lifestyle. If you go through life projecting sloppiness and carelessness in your manners and dress, then people will forever see you as a careless slob. If, on the other hand, you take some time and effort to project class and sophistication, well, you get the idea....

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