’Tis the season to be jolly tra–la–la–la. Christmas and the silly season seem to come earlier each year. Here are some hints on how to ensure that you enhance your image socially and professionally whilst still having a good time
the launch of the
The Businesswear Showcase (BWS) is the premier exhibition of its kind in South Africa - bringing together the crème-de-la-crème in local businesswear, corporatewear, uniform manufacturers & suppliers under one roof for the benefit of you, the client.

It exhibits a diverse selection of working wardrobes to suit every pocket. It also caters for everyone from the corporate individual shopping for a sensational new outfit to the Corporate Company seeking uniquely and functionally designed corporate attire for every division of their organization
Date: 17 and 18 November 2004
Venue: Fairlawns Hotel (map online)
Times: 10am - 7pm daily
Fee: Free to all those who register online
Being the host(ess) with the mostest
To entertain is defined in the dictionary as to “show hospitality”. All the fine china and crystal glass in the world cannot replace your graciousness and warmth that will ensure your guests have a memorable evening
  • Give at least 2 weeks notice when inviting guests especially at this very busy time of year
  • Enquire as to any allergies, religious food requirements, likes and dislikes when guests reply
  • Invite people who are likely to be interesting to each other. Don’t seat two people next to each other that have polarised views on politics, religion etc, the resultant fireworks might frighten your other guests
  • Take guests jackets and bags when they arrive and indicate where they can sit Don’t abandon them to rush off to the kitchen
  • Introduce all your guests; don’t assume they have all met. Your introductions should provide additional information to get the conversation flowing “James went to varsity with Derek” or “Alison and I are both originally from P.E.”
  • Guests should be offered a drink within 15 minutes of arriving
  • Serve snacks to ensure that your guests don’t faint with hunger or the drinks go to their head too quickly
  • Keep pets and children out of sight, not everyone finds small or furry things cute
  • Provide ashtrays for the smokers, if you prefer not to have people smoking in your home indicate where they may smoke, veranda, garden etc
  • Serve dinner no later than 90 minutes after the time of the invitation
  • Use place cards to indicate seating arrangements or indicate to your guests where you want them seated
  • The host and hostess usually sit at either end s of the table (hostess closest to the kitchen) Male and female alternate on either side
  • When a man pulls a chair out for a woman it should be the one to the right of him
  • Don’t be overly ambitious with your meal a simple dish well done far outweighs an elaborate one that doesn’t quite make it. Don’t make excuses for your meal “It usually turns out much better than this”
  • Married couples are usually split up ( to stop them fighting??), engaged couples sit next to each other
  • Food is served from the left and plates are removed from the right
  • The table is usually cleared of everything except glasses before dessert is served
  • The hostess signals dinner is finished by placing her napkin on the table and saying something like “Let’s move into the lounge for some coffee/brandy”
The Perfect Guest
Make sure that you end up on the
A–list (pleasure to have around) rather than the
D–list (remind me never to invite them again!)
  • Reply either positively or negatively (not maybe) when answering an invitation. Do it promptly within 48 hours, to assist the hostess in her planning
  • Arrive promptly bearing gifts eg a good wine (don’t be offended if the host does not use it, they may have already chosen the wines for the evening) Decadent choccies and flowers are always well received
  • Don’t sample food off others plates unless encouraged to do so
  • Do get merry and perky, not drunk and loud
  • Provide sincere compliments, on the food, décor etc
  • It is not necessary to take your pre–dinner drink to the table, if you wished to do so ask permission
  • Offer to help on arrival and also with the cleaning up at the end of the evening. If the host says no don’t insist
  • When you can see the hosts beginning to wilt don’t overstay your welcome
  • The perfect guest is enthusiastic and considerate. Treat fellow guests, the host as well as their property with respect
  • The morning after the night before ... call or send a thank you letter or e–mail
  • Reciprocate with an invitation as soon as you are able, even if it is just a meeting for drinks. Weddings, dances, official functions do not require a return invitation
“Others may not always believe what you say,
but they will always believe what you do”
The Office Party
More often than not seen as an ordeal to be survived, rather than the highlight of your social calendar. Remember having to listen to the firm’s auditor scintillating overview of company results for half an hour, rivalled only by having to fend of the amorous advances of a very young, very drunk accounts executive.
  • The office party is an extension of your work, so;
          You can’t escape early,
          Nor can you ignore people you don’t like
  • View the party as a way of making valuable contacts and to enhance your status in the new year
  • Circulate, don’t stay in your own little work clique of colleagues. Move around and try not to stay more than 10 minutes with a particular person. Strive to find at least 2 things in common with all you meet
  • Do your homework before the party:
    1. Is it a single invitation or is my spouse, partner invited? Don’t just assume ...
    2. What is the dress code? – If in doubt dress smarter than more casually
    3. Is it necessary to RSVP? If so do it within 48 hours
    4. Who else is coming, suppliers, clients?
  • Do not arrive more than half an hour early or more than an hour late
  • Be remembered for what you have achieved, not for what you have revealed. This is not an opportunity for you to show off your belly–ring, tattoo, or any other form of bodily decoration that are usually reserved for the beach
  • Avoid being too “touchy” and provocative on the dance floor.
  • When you find yourself barefoot on the table with cat calls and people yelling, “Take it off!” , you have overstepped the boundaries of what is acceptable
  • Eat, drink and behave in moderation. Have a snack before hand to quell tummy gurgles. Don’t hang around the buffet table or bar like a vulture. Over indulgence in alcohol has ruined many a career, know your limits
  • Brushing your hair and reapplying lipstick should be confined to the ladies room
  • Even though the mistletoe may be in abundance avoid the urge to use it. Respect the physical boundaries of others, that way they will respect you in the morning
  • Respect cultural and religious diversities in your co–workers. Never force anyone to drink, dance or become overly familiar this may offend their religious or cultural beliefs
  • Remember to thank the organizers and your host on leaving, good manners gain you respect
Mind over Platter
A fun, hands on workshop, which includes:
  • Meal manners – practical, role playing of buffet and sit down dinners from showing you how to hold a glass to disposing of olive pips!
  • Seating arrangements – who sits where, where is the power seat?
  • That “function” is coming up–what should you be wearing?
Equip yourself to become a 'mover and shaker' in a way that is dynamic and relevant to today's working world.

For more information contact Professional Impressions
Tel: (011) 679–3036    Cell: 082 895 7924    email: prof–imp@webmail.co.za
Christmas Parties
glitz, glamour, gloss
“What shall I wear?” Is society’s second most asked question.
The first is “Do you really love me?”
No matter what one replies to either, it is never accepted
as settling the issue – Judith Martin
The best way to figure out what to wear is by asking yourself –
What is my goal look?
  • Sexy? Feminine? Sophisticated? Professional?
Here are some common event dress codes and the suggested attire for these occassions
White Tie/ Cravate Blanche/ Full Evening Dress
The most formal of evening wear. Presidential or royal functions, diplomatic functions and very formal charity balls. Very seldom seen anymore.
Men wear:
  • Black tailcoat, white dress shirt with wing collars, cuff links, white evening waistcoat, white bow tie
  • Optional : black top hat and white gloves
Women wear:
  • Ornate ball gowns with all the trimmings, tiara and all
Black Tie/ Cravate Noir/ Evening dress/ Formal
Not all black tie affairs are created equal–time, host and reason must be considered when choosing the outfit Business black tie–quiet and elegant, avoid plunging necklines, daredevil slits Social black tie–indulge, get sexy, glamorous, red carpet at the Oscars stuff!
Formal functions include weddings, gala dinners, charity balls, opening nights
Men wear:
  • Tuxedos/smoking/dinner jackets in black or white
  • A flly front or ruffled dress shirt with white or red silk handkerchief in pocket, cuff links
  • A cummerbund to cover the area where the shirt tucks into the pants
  • Black bow tie
  • Try a plain white textured shirt with a bright or patterned tie, cravat or bowtie for a more up to date look
Women wear:
  • Long dresses, (not as ornate as ball gowns)
  • Cocktail length (knee length) dresses can also be worn.
  • Ethnic dress is also appropriate at this level
Don’t waste this wonderful occasion by going in a plain frock–turn on the GLITZ
Smart / Collar and tie / Semi–formal
Year–end functions, cocktail parties, smart business dinners may all indicate a smart dress code
Men wear:
  • A dark suit, collared shirt and luxurious tie
  • Shirts currently are striped or textured with an embossed sheen
  • A stylish look is the dress shirt with a contrast collar and cuff considered very dressy even when worn without the tie
  • Ties are thicker ensuring the knot tied is larger and more opulent looking stripes and polka dots are very current
  • Colours include the deep jewel colours, golds and even the seasonal brights such as lime greens and oranges
Woman wear:
  • Cocktail dresses–knee length
  • Evening pants suit with a glitzy top or try one of the latest sexy lingerie inspired tops
  • A feminine floaty chiffon or silky shirt with evening skirt or pants
  • Invest in a skirt or pants that are classic and versatile which will last beyond the season
Smart Casual
Functions may include year–end parties, dinner with friends or business associates at a home or a more casual restaurant
Men wear:
  • The new style men’s blazer has matt silver buttons not gold, which allows the blazer to be worn with anything from a smart pair of pants, to a chino, to a pair of dark jeans
  • Choose texturised evening shirts
  • Colours and pattern can become stronger and brighter
  • A tie is optional
Women wear:
  • Dresses – from your classic black dress to a 50’s inspired print dress, to a flouncy, feminine strapless number
  • Cropped pants can be glamorised with the addition of glittering vests, pretty twin sets, strappy sandals and delicate jewellery
Casual Smart
Functions include relaxed dinners, corporate get–a–ways, lazy summer braais and picnics
Men wear:
  • Chino’s, casual pants dark jeans
  • Optional – a casual jacket
  • Soft collared shirts, golfers, tightly woven summer weight pullover , good quality cotton pressed t–shirts
Women wear:
  • Jeans/capri pants dressed up with:
    the new textured cropped jackets, a delicately draped top, a twin set and pearls, cotton t–shirts
“The little black dress is like a hint of perfume ...
quiet but alluring.”
How to put the sizzle in your step ...
Dressing up at this time of year is always fun, it is acceptable to be a little excessive and over the top, however here are some fundamental elements to looking exquisite ...
Slinkier, sexier
Show skin or shape not both
Tops get lower, hemlines and slits get higher, swooping backlesness
Shoes are strappier, higher and more decorative
Fabrics are sheerer and flimsier – eg chiffon, georgette will cover you but still grab attention!
Glitz it up
Shimmer and shine, haul out your sparklies real or fake. Remember that shinier fabrics can make you appear larger–put them in places you want to play up eg near the face, cleavage
Dust bronzing powder on neck and shoulder area for sparkle. Remember the lip–gloss for a perfect mistletoe pout
Guys why not try wearing some of the real brights shirts/ties you have been too scared to wearing the day. What about cuff links or a tie pin?
Dramatic entrances
Choose black, white or red in the form of a suit, a little dress or just in a gorgeous pair of evening sandals
Sultry glamour
Accessories can be larger, more ornate (try this seasons chandelier earrings)
Bags get smaller, daintier and more dazzling
Use luxurious fabrics like satins, silks and velvets
Makeup becomes more defined not heavier
Wear your hair up for elegance, mussed for a touch of wildness or gelled back for sophistication
Men’s tie styles are heavier, thicker, embossed with a silky sheen for evening
Schedule some practise time before the big event – you don’t want to be walking down the red carpet and falling out of the new stilettos? Or popping out of the low cut ball gown?
Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for information used in this article:
A Modern Girl’s Guide to Etiquette Sarah Ivens
Emily Post On Entertaining Emily Post
Cultural considerations Guy Macleod
Fair Lady 2004 November
Gentleman – A Timeless Fashion – Bernhard Roetzel
Chic Simple Women’ wardrobe
Ahmed Saloojee from Grays Sandton City
Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for images used in this article:
CosmopolitanNovember 2004
QueesnparkOctober Brochure
CanaliAutumn Brochure
Ophra MagazineNovember 2004
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