Dress For Success

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Imagine you are meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for a casual business lunch.  What do you pull out of your closet to wear?

This may seem like a trivial decision that only people like the fashion-savvy Elle Woods of “Legally Blonde” seriously consider, but such clothing choices are important for anyone, diplomats certainly included.  Dressing with class gives a striking, good first impression to those you’re going to be interacting with.  It will boost your confidence; when you are making a speech, working a room, you will have no reason to be distracted by or nervous regarding any mistakes in or bad comments about your look.  Nice pieces can also make for casual ice breakers such as, “Nice tie!” or “I love your earrings!  Where did you get them?”.  The list of reasons to commit to trying to look your best–and, when working, your most professional–each day  goes on and on.http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/2100000/Harvard-elle-woods-2110385-300-449.jpg

In our example of meeting the Secretary-General (and for all other business occasions a diplomat would encounter), western business attire is required.  UNA-USA offers a handy reference chart of what falls into this category and what doesn’t:

Clothing

Females

Males

Suits A suit always looks professional. Be sure to keep suits clean and wrinkle-free. A suit always looks professional. Be sure to keep suits clean and wrinkle-free.
Tops No t-shirts. A blouse, sweater, or button-down shirt of any kind is appropriate. Dresses are also appropriate as long as they are not revealing and adequate in length (follow the rules below for skirt length). No t-shirts. A collared/button-down shirt is appropriate and do not forget a tie!
Bottoms No jeans or shorts. Slacks and suit-pants are acceptable. Skirts must be worn with pantyhose/stockings and should not be more than two inches above the knee. Bottoms should have a subtle pattern; avoid loud designs. No jeans or shorts. Slacks, preferable in dark colors, are appropriate.
Shoes No sneakers or open-toe sandals. Remember: high-heeled shoes may look pretty, but they can also be very uncomfortable, so use your discretion. No sneakers or open-toe sandals. Loafers or other types of dress shoes are preferred.
Hair Keep hair clean and out of your face for a professional look. Keep hair clean and out of your face a professional look

(This information and more can be found at http://www.unausa.org/munpreparation/dressing.)

Note to participants of Model UN: As you probably know, these are the standards followed at MUN conferences, too!  At the last conference I attended, one of my vice chairs frequently complained about how many girls were clad inappropriately in sundresses.  You don’t want to earn that negative attention!  Additionally, if you are on a committee with an after-hours crisis simulation, expect to be changing out of those pajamas!  Business attire is not required for a midnight session at all conferences (another delegate and I were the only 2 out of  about 15 kids that wore formal clothes instead of street clothes at one back in December, and he said, “Well, I guess everyone can tell we’re new to this!”), but it’s safer to change back into your professional apparel anyway (“Hilary Clinton probably sleeps in her suits,” joked one vice chair).

Neutrals like black, white, cream, gray, and brown are good for basic pieces like suits.  Accents of color–maybe on a tie or vest for men and on a shirt, scarf, or hangbag for women–will make you stand out from the crowd and look confident.  Deep teal, classic red, rose, and eggplant are universally flattering colors that look good on all skin types (see http://www.stylelist.com/2009/08/11/four-colors-that-flatter-everyone/ and http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing/wardrobe-basics/4-universally-flattering-clothing-colors-10000001584157/)   Color pyschology is also a factor we can throw into the mix.  Check out http://www.infoplease.com/spot/colors1.html and http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm for organized and fun facts on the common or universal associations with and impressions given by different hues.  (Blue seems like a good pick for diplomatic relations.)

For more inspiration, check out the TV show What Not To Wear, in which hilarious style experts Stacy and Clinton take on fashion-challenged folks and help them change their look.  Besides offering great advice and lots of laughs, the show demonstrates how much of an effect clothing style can have on your lifestyle in an honest, heartwarming way.

Also, check out these wonderful organizations: Dress For Success and Career Gear.  Both are non-profits that work to improve the economic independence of disadvantaged people (Dress For Success helping women, Career Gear helping men) by supplying business attire along with other support networks and tools.  See how much one suit can do? =)

~Lena

Civility In Committee

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Please read this great post from the terrific website BestDelegate.com about committee etiquette.  Mr. Vlahakis addresses being courteous in the Model UN setting, but I think these principles apply to real-life meetings, too!

You can also read this article on the original blog page: http://www.bestdelegate.com/2008/02/committee-etiquette.html.

~Lena

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Committee Etiquette

I have my next guest post! Meet Aryestis Vlahakis, a junior at Yale who competes with the Model UN Team. He’s originally from Greece, and he also serves on this year’s Secretariat for the Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY).

Committee Etiquette
By Aryestis Vlahakis, Yale University, Timothy Dwight College ’09Delegates often overlook the issue of committee etiquette. How should one behave towards fellow delegates? How should one behave towards the chair and the rest of the dais staff? Etiquette means respecting your fellow delegates’ positions and opinions even though you may not agree with them or—be honest here—even if you don’t like some of them. And excellent etiquette can help you win Best Delegate.

In any committee, particularly General Assembly committees, you want to make your presence known to the chair. Although good chairs will familiarize themselves with everyone in committee, you might have bad chairs or a big committee. So, you need to take that extra step to make yourself known.

Before the first session of the conference, walk in a little early and introduce yourself. You don’t have to get into a deep philosophical debate; just offer a couple of words about you, your country, and your school. And speak with confidence.

“Hi, I’m Aryestis and I’m representing Greece. I actually do come from Greece, but right now I’m studying at Yale. I just wanted to introduce myself. It was nice to meet you.”

You are now one step ahead.

If you have a question about the committee or the topic matter, now is an excellent time to ask, but do not make up a meaningless question on the spot. Good chairs see right through this, and then you look like a “suck up.”

Doing this will not guarantee a win, but it certainly grabs the chair’s attention. Impressed chairs will look forward to hearing you speak. They may even offer you an advantage when calling on delegates during moderated caucus and pick you first.

This should be your attitude towards the chair throughout the committee. You should not be afraid to approach him. Chairs are generally very knowledgeable on the subject and offer good advice when you are stuck in committee.

But do not, under any circumstances, suck up to the chair. Although this may sometimes work, the chair will see right through it and you will look like a complete fool.

The whole idea is to present yourself as a team player, not as someone who is trying to leverage an unfair advantage because the chair knows him.

The same goes for interactions with your fellow delegates. You have to present yourself as an easily approachable, easy-going person who is willing to discuss other people’s ideas and compromise on them.

In most cases, the delegate who wins the committee is the one who leads it to a consensus. You cannot be that person if you refuse to work with other delegates, especially the delegates who have all the good ideas. Even if you do not like other delegates, you need to overcome your personal likes and dislikes and be an effective diplomat. Remember that Model UN is not a naturally competitive activity, but one that demands negotiation and consensus.

The best way to present yourself to other delegates is the same way you should present yourself to your chair. Get to your committee room early, reserve yourself a good seat, then walk around the room and introduce yourself to the other delegates. You can ask them what they think about the topics or Britney Spears’ latest nervous breakdown. The point is to get out there and get to know your fellow delegates.

Because all this may be hard to remember when you get into the hustle and bustle of committee, when you are not sure how to act or what to do, just think of these three things:

  1. Don’t be afraid to go up and talk to the chair and fellow delegates;
  2. Be confident and polite;
  3. Be diplomatic and willing to compromise.

Posted by Ryan Villanueva at 3:54 PM

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