The Rule of Two: Drinks, Buttons, Inches


An HR Director once shared with me a little trick she used to share basic, but important professional image advice with entry-level employees. The ‘Rule of Two’ is elementary. It’s easy to remember, yet every now and again there is someone in the workplace who could use a little reminder. So here goes:

How many drinks can I enjoy during an after work social event? It is easy to get swept up in the fun of relaxing after work. A drink or two can ease the pressure of having to be on point at work-related function where the goal is to connect, present ourselves professionally, while also seeming friendly, open and fun. Limiting yourself to TWO drinks ensures that you engage without going overboard. (Tip: If you don’t drink alcohol, opt for a prop such as a cranberry or club soda and lime. Drinking nothing can be just as distracting as having one too many!)

How many buttons is it appropriate to have unbuttoned at work? This tip was fashioned with men and collared, button-down shirts in mind. If you have ever seen a guy at work with three buttons undone, you know what I mean! The tip can also be a practical one for women, provided releasing the first 2 buttons does not bear cleavage.

How many inches above the knee can my hemlines be at work? Millennials sometimes have a real tough time with this one: No more than TWO. It might be a bit of a hunt to find skirts and dresses long enough in stores these days, with the current, bare-all trend. But that doesn’t make this tip any less relevant or important. If your hemline is higher than two inches above knee while you are standing, then you best believe it is going to be distractingly (and uncomfortably) short when you are sitting down.

How many inches above bustline cleavage should my neckline be? That’s right, TWO whole inches!  Cleavage is never appropriate for the workplace. If you try to get away with less than two inches, you will lose the fight with gravity by lunchtime and be breaking a cardinal rule by sporting cleavage on the job!

These are basic professional image tips that work regardless of your personal brand or intended message. The Rule of Two is “2 important 2 forget.” Corny, but memorable.


About Kali Patrice

Kali Patrice is the founder of The Image Studios, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in branding and image communication. She blogs through “Successful Expression” to share fresh ways to share insights about image, personal branding and self-expression.