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The term dust is an analogy for non-verbal "distractions" related to your appearance – distractions that are an unwelcome intrusion upon your verbal message – and damaging to your image. Imagine having a dinner party and cleaning your house thoroughly before the guests arrive. Obviously, not a single guest would notice. They would only notice if you didn't clean the house. Actually, they probably wouldn't be able to stop staring at the layer of dust covering your tables and furniture.

A classic form of dust is spinach in the teeth or runs in stockings, but there are more subtle versions of dust that could slip by your notice. And they negatively impact the impression others have of you. Take a look at the seven deadly "dust" sins, from head to toe:  

1. Bad hair.
This is a major distraction and "image deflator" because it surrounds the face (your focal point). It includes the following:  (1) dirty or greasy hair, (2) stringy hair, (3) hair that looks as if you slept on it and didn't bother to comb it in the morning; (4) "wash & go" hair that looks like it dried in the car on the way to work and hasn't had the proverbial finger lifted in its behalf (note: this can give the impression that you might not lift a finger and take charge of the projects you are working on.)

2. Makeup in the wrong color.
The wrong color of foundation can look heavy and artificial. As a result, it is often judged to be a mask, causing others to wonder about the "real you" behind the mask. It also causes furrows and other "lumps and bumps" on the face to be accentuated. The end result is that you look "harder" or less amiable. This look truly hurts your overall image!

3. Dangling earrings.
Earrings that swing or even faintly resemble a mobile will cause the eyes to be captivated by them sporadically, rather than remaining on your face, as they should. Large thin hoops are often a distraction as well, demanding attention that should be on the face instead. Essentially, the earrings wear you instead of you wearing them.  

4. Protruding tummy, bulging thighs.
On a positive note, we don't notice laugh lines or double chins, because we all have them in varying degrees. However, we do notice protruding tummies and thighs. To avoid drawing attention to your tummy, don't wear your belt too tight, and try incorporating tunic-style tops or easy-fitting jackets into your wardrobe, as they cover and camouflage the tummy.  

Leggings are making a comeback for the fall, but if you wear them and have protruding thighs, you will have to team them with a longer top in a tunic style. Wearing tunic styles every day will be noticed far less than any bulge. As a rule of thumb for any kind of bulge, never wear tight-fitting clothing because it only accentuates them.

5. Unnatural-looking nails.
Unusual nail colors, such as green or blue, are included in this category. Incidentally, red nails have been the favored choice for decades for good reason. Because of a technical factor called simultaneous contrast, red-family colors cause the hands and knuckles to look less red, while blue and green accentuate any redness on the hands and knuckles. Unfortunately, soft pastels also cause redness to be accentuated. If you prefer a natural look, choose a French manicure or wear clear nail polish.

In addition to color, there are other features that cause the eyes to solely focus on your nails, such as exaggerated square tips and exaggeratedly-long nails, especially nails that begin to curl under.  

6. Bulging or oversized handbags.
Handbags that are oversized or bulging and appear over-stuffed tend to be a real distraction. In addition, they may create the impression that you are unorganized or inefficient. Also take note that males are often distracted by women shuffling around in overstuffed handbags, appearing to be unable to retrieve what they are looking for.  

7. Chunky shoes.
These are another major "image deflator." Chunky or clumsy-looking shoes actually cause the eyes to intermittently be riveted by the feet, much as when men wear white socks with a dark business suit. This can even happen with ordinary pant shoes, when they are worn with a skirt. They make the feet look clumsy, giving the impression that you do menial jobs that require physical exertion. Plain pumps are definitely the best choice for skirts.


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