Unless your job requires you to wear a uniform, choosing clothing for work can be difficult. Industry standards help you solve the problem; corporate offices, for instance, want you to be dressed formally, and the hospitality industry would like their women to be sari clad. But what do you wear if you work in an industry where there are no real dress codes?
Thats not all. Some companies allow you to wear casual clothes. But how do you keep from crossing the line between casual and sloppy? And its a question that can make or mar your career — for what you wear can be crucial to your sprint up the ladder.
One is always under the scanner not only in terms of output, efficiency and conduct but also as to how you come dressed to work. For clothes, indeed, can make a man — or a woman! And in todays world creating the right impression is the key to success. It is important for a person to be well groomed, asserts Sanchita Kushary of the Calcutta-based finishing school Dream Merchants. You dont have to be a fashion icon but at the same time you have to make sure that you are dressed tastefully and in accordance with your job profile.
For instance, you may love body art, but if you arent lucky enough to work in a creative sector — such as in an advertising agency — you might have to hide that large butterfly on your stomach. I have two tattoos, one on my right arm and one snaking down the nape of my neck. I make sure that I wear clothes with high collars and long sleeves when I am at work as I do not want my tattoos to get more attention than my work, says Piyali Bagchi, who works in the legal department of Bharti Airtel.
Before deciding on what to wear on the first day of work, check up on what people wear in your new office. Talk to employees and find out the norms in relation to dressing if there is no official dress code. Shashank Gupta and Sneha Shah of the Mumbai-based ISRA School of Grooming and Finesse stress that your dress should complement your role in the organisation. They, for instance, advise you not to wear something outlandish if your job entails interacting with clients. In such cases, do not dress in a manner that shifts the attention from the product to your outfit, they say.
No two individuals have the same body type or complexion; so it is best to dress in what suits you rather than follow trends blindly. For starters, avoid bold colours, bold patterns, body-hugging dresses and plunging necklines as all these can act as visual distractions.
Says Chandrika Banerjee, consultant at Skills, a Calcutta-based counselling and grooming institute, If you are wearing a suit, go for a dark-coloured one as it hides lots of flaws. Women should ensure that the sari is pleated properly or the dupatta is pinned in place.
Colour co-ordination is another important aspect. In the colour wheel red, brown and yellow are on one side while blue, black and grey are on the other. Do not mix and match colours from two sides of the colour wheel. For instance, never wear brown or cherry-coloured shoes with a black suit. Also, your tie should match your suit and socks your trousers.
The finer details of your appearance do not go unnoticed. Says Malini Bhagat, principal, Mahadevi Birla Girls High School, I would not like a teacher to have broken nails or chipped nail polish as it creates a dirty look. So before going to class next time, opt for a manicure session at a parlour to win brownie points.
Men should ensure that their beard, moustache and sideburns are neatly trimmed. Personal hygiene too is of paramount importance. One should carry an anti-perspirant and facial wipes as you would not want to enter a meeting with a shiny face, advises Kushary.
Carry some sugar-free gum or cloves so that there are no bad breath situations. Rajiv Lodha of Launcherz, a Calcutta-based grooming school, insists that proper teeth and gums help in creating the wow first impression.
Women should avoid wearing dangling jewellery, bracelets and bangles at work for they can make a lot of unwanted noise. The perfume or cologne you use should be mild and reflect your personality. Before leaving for work, take a good look in the mirror. Do not blindly copy someone elses style as what might look good on Aishwarya Rai might have a disastrous effect on you, says Banerjee.
Looking good is important because it translates into the feel good factor and makes an individual more confident. The end result is good performance. So a little change in appearance might just get you the raise that you were looking for. If not, looking good never did hurt anybody.