Shape Of Things To Come?

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By Debra Phillips

Don't let casual Fridays fool you: Dressing professionally--and acting accordingly--never goes out of style. At least that's the message 24-year-old Clint Greenleaf hopes to get across to peers in his self-published book, Attention to Detail: A Gentleman's Guide to Professional Appearance and Conduct, which is due out sometime this fall.

He's currently working on a similar volume for women, in addition to The Attention To Detail Newsletter, the quarterly publication he produces about style and etiquette. Here, Greenleaf, who earned his stripes through a prep-school education and a stint in corporate America, answers some of our questions:

BSU:Considering the trend toward more casual dress in workplaces, just how important is a professional appearance nowadays?

GREENLEAF: I think it's almost more important. With everybody becoming more casual, there's less knowledge of how to dress properly. Because of this, you can really stand out [if you do it right].

BSU:What are the biggest fashion mistakes?

GREENLEAF: Both men and women assume people are going to [judge them] as individuals, not [based on] their clothes, so they don't spend that extra 40 seconds in front of the mirror making sure they don't have lipstick on their teeth or their belt is on properly.

BSU:Beyond fashion, what business etiquette is important to making a good impression?

GREENLEAF: Smile and speak in a professional manner--[avoid] using slang. Sound and act like you know what you're doing.

BSU:Is there a secret to properly shaking someone's hand?

GREENLEAF: The main thing is to get a decent contact between the webbing [on your hand] and the other person's webbing. As silly as it sounds, it might make sense to practice this with friends.

BSU:Is it still a good idea for a man to open a door for a woman?

GREENLEAF: I consider myself a man of the 1990s and I'd still open a door for a woman. Actually, there's nothing that says a woman can't open a door for a man, either. I don't think anyone will ever be sued for sexual harassment over this--but then, having said that, I'll probably end up on Ally McBeal.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Shape Of Things To Come?.

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