The clock ticks closer to 5 p.m. and the official end of your workday. Maybe you've made reservations at a five-star steakhouse frequented by well-dressed movers and shakers and you want to be the most stylish of the bunch. Perhaps you've got last-minute plans with some buddies who want to introduce you to a certain someone. Wherever you're headed, you need to freshen up before you leave the office -- and you need to do it fast.
Effectively transitioning from the office to going out starts with preparation. Manhattan-based image consultant Julie Rath, suggests keeping a ''rescue kit'' in a desk drawer. The kit should contain all the basic grooming and hygiene necessities: deodorant with antiperspirant, baby wipes to clean and remove excess oil from your face, and a travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste. If five o'clock shadow is a concern, keep an electric razor handy (and fully charged). If you have access to a shower, either at work or a nearby gym, you might want to clean more thoroughly.
It's also wise to stash a few alternative wardrobe choices at your workplace. Select items that can easily play off your office attire. ''You can use at least one element of what you wear to the office as part of your dress-down, going-out look,'' says Rath. You could, for example, opt for a leather jacket with a vest underneath in lieu of a sport coat. Keep a selection of ties in your desk drawer and switch into something flashier than the tie you wore in the boardroom. Then again, you could ditch the tie and wear a pocket square instead. If your office dress code calls for khakis and a button-down shirt, make a quick change into a polo shirt. Below the waist, straight-leg, dark-wash jeans can be a good choice for a low-key venue.
Tips for Going Out Straight from the Office
To smell pleasant over dinner, watch what you eat at lunch. Foods high in aromatic compounds -- asparagus, broccoli, garlic, and cumin, to name a few - can be released in our sweat [source: Shah]. In addition, a 2006 experiment found a correlation between red meat consumption in men and poor body odor as perceived by women [source: Havlicek, Lenochova]. Snack on fruits and vegetables rich in fiber and vitamin C and sip on tea made with coriander, spearmint, and other odor-eliminating herbs [source: Gazzaniga].
It may seem counterintuitive but mouthwash that lists alcohol as an ingredient is a bad idea. Mouthwash containing alcohol kills odor-causing germs initially, but it soon dries out the saliva glands, preventing the removal of bacteria. In short, it could make your breath worse than it was at the start [source: ABC News].
Caffeine is a great pick-me-up for a night on the town because it stimulates the central nervous system and lessens fatigue. However, excessive consumption can contribute to the appearance of dark circles underneath the eyes along with a host of other not-so-cosmetic side effects, so limit your daily caffeine intake to 300 milligrams -- about four cups -- or less [source: Mayo Clinic].
If your clothes get wrinkled in the course of the workday, consider a quick stop by a nearby dry cleaner where you can ask them to run an iron over your outfit. [source: Rath]. But if your clothing woes absolutely can't be fixed away from home, log on to the Web site of your favorite fashion brand, run your office address through the retail locator, and go pick up a new outfit at the closest available store.
If it's sunny, Rath suggests throwing on a pair of shades. ''It takes a business-y outfit and brings it to a more social level.'' She says
With a few modifications and a little creativity you can seamlessly change from office mode into being the stylish life of the party.
- ABC News. "Myth: Mouthwash Eliminates Bad Breath."Oct. 14, 2005. (March 11, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Health/story?id=1213420
- Esquire. "Esquire's Guide to a Better Morning in Your Bathroom." March 3, 2009. (March 10, 2011) http://www.esquire.com/style/grooming/morning-grooming-tips-0309
- Gazzaniga, Maria. "Good Taste: Top 5 Foods to Prevent Bad Breath." MSN Health. (March 15, 2011) http://health.msn.com/health-topics/oral-care/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100124024
- Havlicek, Jan; Lenochova, Pavlina. "The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness." Chemical Senses, Vol. 31, Issue 8. Page 747-752. August 4, 2006. (March 10, 2011) http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/8/747.abstract
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?" MayoClinic.com. (March 10, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600
- Men's Health. "The Rules of Scent." (March 16, 2011) http://www.menshealth.com/style/grooming/the-rules-of-scent.php
- Rath, Julie. Image consultant and personal stylist, Rath & Co. Personal Interview. March 16, 2011.
- Shah, Riddhi. "Why do some foods make us smell funny?" Salon. June 23, 2010. (March 10, 2011) http://www.salon.com/food/feature/2010/06/23/foods_that_make_you_smell_funny