Alaska Natives Dressing for Success – Ten Tips

I’ve lived in the city for the past 20+ years. When I was in college, I dressed very casually. After I moved to Anchorage, I realized I had to step it up. What has changed over the years? I asked a couple of my Athabascan friends to give me their top five tips for dressing for success. Freddie Olin IV is always dressed impeccably. Lessa Peter is always dressed to impress. They are both business professionals living and working in Anchorage. It’s a new year and it’s a good time to review your fashion and grooming habits.

Related:  Meeting Shirt – A Clothing Staple for Rural Alaska

Freddie R. Olin IV. Courtesy photo
Freddie R. Olin IV. Courtesy photo

Five Tips for Dressing Office Professional from Freddie Olin IV

  1. Accessories (belt, socks, and dress shoes) should match by color to the dress shirt, tie, and slacks.
  2. If no color is black for the shirt, tie, and slacks, do not wear black colored accessories.
  3. Shine dress shoes before wearing them, every time.
  4. Dress jackets and gloves should also be matched in addition to accessories in the winter.
  5. Style your hair how you like it and be clean shaven every morning.
Lessa Peter. Courtesy photo
Lessa Peter. Courtesy photo

Five Tips for Dressing for Success from Lessa Peter

  1. Business casual – A lot of times when there is a business casual dress policy, new professionals think, “Hey, I could do that. I have all kinds of casual going on in my closet!” But sorry, business casual is not a nice strappy pair of sandals in the summer nor a pair of comfy Uggs or Timberlands in the winter. Look at what your boss is wearing. You want to dress for his/her position. Look through your company’s dress policy and stick to the guidelines.
  2. Keep the logos, tight/baggy, low-necklines, low-ride jeans and clothes that look like they’ve been through the wringer for the weekend. There’s nothing worse than bending over to grab something and showing company executives that you actually needed that belt you reconsidered this morning.
  3. Dress for the occasion – If you are going to an event, check with someone who has attended before about recommended attire. You wouldn’t show up on a first date wearing your worst fitting jeans and yesterday’s hair and make-up. Dress to impress when meeting new people and attending events and gatherings. You never know who you might meet!
  4. Hygiene – Most people don’t need a reminder, but it’s an important one to keep in mind. Make sure to shower and brush regularly to keep yourself and your breath smelling clean. Your coworkers and colleagues thank you. Keep your hair coiffed, face shaved or beard/mustache well-groomed.
  5. Wear it well! It’s not all about what you wear, but how you wear it. Remember to make eye contact, shake hands, smile and be engaged with others. Practice good posture. People remember you for the impression you give them within the first 7 seconds of meeting them, so make it count!
Angela Gonzalez in a fancy summer parka. Photo by Audrey Armstrong
Angela Gonzalez in a fancy summer parka. Photo by Audrey Armstrong

Some of the tips are common sense, but cannot be overlooked. There are definitely times for dressing up and dressing down. It is okay to occasionally wear your traditional indigenous clothing, like an Alaska Native summer parka. Some companies celebrate with ‘Cuspuk Fridays’ by encouraging staff to wear summer parkas on Fridays. Each office is different.

Summer Parka in Some Alaska Native Languages
Koyukon Athabascan – bets’egh hoolaanee
Inupiaq – atikłuk
Yup’ik – cuspuk or kuspuk

Thank you to Lessa and Freddie for sharing their tips for dressing for success. Remembering the details of fashion and grooming are important. It’s all about creating a package. Dress codes vary widely depending on the type of field you are in, so some tips may not apply. What tips would you add? Has dressing and grooming well made a difference in your career or life? 

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