Steel Advice: A professional image can be rewarding

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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: As an attorney, I appear in court regularly. I continue to be astounded at the inappropriate attire young attorneys deem suitable for court. Short, tight skirts are not a personal style. Open-toed shoes are suitable for patio cocktail parties — not court. Stockings are an essential accessory. Gum chewing is for cows and kids. Would you please give young professionals a reminder that they are the ones who control their image and the image of their profession? The projected image from a person's attire and professional presentation can open doors or slam them shut.


DEAR IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: Snap judgments are made based on appearances. Unfortunately, inappropriate dress in the business world is not limited to young people or to the courtroom. Today’s casual fashion carryover to the workplace is seamless. Office attire often sinks to the level of picnic outfits. When professional image deteriorates, credibility suffers. Not every job requires you look like you are in court, but common sense says a professional dress code in the workplace is important for all workers and especially for those just getting started. Save the trendy, wrinkled, slouchy clothes for after work or the weekends. Sandals on never manicured feet are disgusting. Team logo clothes are for ballgames not the office. Remember, you never know who you will meet and if you fall asleep in your clothes put on fresh ones the next day.


DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My husband has an elderly cousin in Florida. His wife has been mailing me greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, etc., for 14 years. I have only met them twice and it was briefly. I feel very uncomfortable with receiving these cards. She will write things like, “We love you” XOXOXO and “Please call us,” “Please visit.” I don’t know what to do. My husband does not want to be involved. He tells me to just throw the cards away and ignore it. He does not have a relationship with them. I don’t even understand why she does this. They have grown children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and we understand a very active busy life. So I don’t think they are lonely. We moved three years ago and did not give them our address, but somehow she got it and continues to send us these cards. Do you think this is inappropriate on her part? I have never reciprocated but she just can’t seem to figure it out! Should I write and tell her to stop? Would this be rude? I hope you can help me.


DEAR FRUSTRATED IN WESTMORELAND COUNTY: It is obvious the woman is trying to force a relationship. She is using mushy language and words of affection to steamroll herself into your life. She is pushy. If you do not want a relationship with this relative continue to ignore her mail. Open the cards and then pitch them. If you respond, she will be more persistent and before you know how it happened, she will be sitting in your living room. On the other hand, this cousin may be a person who gets a warm fuzzy feeling from selecting and sending greeting cards to everyone she knows. After 14 years of one-sided correspondence she is continuing the exercise because it makes her feel good. Let it go.

Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.

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