Dress For Success

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You can make a first impression only once, so leave an indelible mark. As visual beings, appearances play an important role in shaping our perceptions. The first thing people see when you walk into a room is You. And, Without saying a single word, you can leave a strong impression.

It is important for professionals to dress appropriately for their jobs and corresponding corporate culture. However, our outfits must also be functional. Office jobs traditionally required a formal dress code. Yet, with the spread of startups and the every increasing commutes, this rule has changed. Moreover, the definition of formal dress code has been altered over the years. If you work in training or constantly deliver presentations, you’ll need flats that don’t look frumpy. If you  are in sales or your job requires you to be outdoors, your clothes must conceal sweat stains. Although sweating is a natural and healthy occurrence, yet we associate sweatiness with a lack of confidence.

A formal dress code usually refers to dark business suits. For men working in a traditional office setting, I recommend selecting Black, Navy, Grey and Brown two piece suits. Pair them with neutral colored dress shirts, such as white or light blue. Never wear short sleeves underneath your jackets. Select classic ties with simple designs and complimentary colors, and accessorize with strong cufflinks to showcase your watch; and black lace ups. Formal dress codes for woman are slightly different. Pant suits and skirt suits are acceptable, yet woman have more freedom to pair their suits with fun colorful tops. Silk blouses convey a sense of elegance and femininity. They nicely compliment dark colored blazers. Every professional should have at least one good power suit, regardless of their profession. Woman may accessorize their formal wear with demure jewelry. If you use excessive hand gestures or deliver presentations, do not layer bracelets or bangles, to avoid clink-clank distractions. Complete your look with elegant scarves. Woman in traditional formal workplaces can exchange their suit jackets with light weight cardigans. Although, high-heels were a strict requirement of formal dress code for women, simple ballet flats and lady loafers are currently acceptable. It is important to remember that only closed toed shoes are suitable for a formal work environment.

Small businesses have a more relaxed corporate culture that seamlessly translates into their business causal dress code. Men can wear Gabardine trousers, even Khakis, with dress shirts. Ties are not necessary. Accessorize with a solid belt, as your shirts should always be tucked in, even with polo shirts. Invest in a good quality belt made out of genuine leather. Tan will pair nicely with most colors, and leather will withstand daily wear and tear. Loafers and other slip on shoes are acceptable, yet refrain from sneakers. For more causal tech and creative offices, paring dark denim with a graphic tee, under a jacket will transform you into a suave teammate. Opt for a plain white t-shirt under a v-neck vest, to channel your inner Chandler Bing.

For Ladies working in a casual setting, a relaxed dress code is adopted, along the lines of business casual. Adhere to tailored trousers. During Summer you can wear Capris and Knee-Length shorts. Select suitable tops, but take into consideration that showing too much skin is frowned upon. If you opt for sleeveless shirts, leave your Spaghetti straps at home. Pair appropriate undergarments with sheer blouses, and always be mindful of your corporate culture and cultural traditions to assess how much skin is too much skin. In a relaxed office environment, you can set your toes free. Sandals and opened toed wedges are acceptable, but draw the line at flip flops and thongs. Use bold accessories such as chunky brackets and statement necklaces.

Grooming and hygiene are important aspects of any employee’s appearance. Again, be mindful of your corporate culture, yet it is common for men to maintain regular hair styling appointments. Traditionally formal offices will not welcome Man-Buns, braids or ponytails. This extends to your clients as well. Morning showers and freshly laundered shirts are the best ways to combat undesirable body odor. Natural materials, such as cotton, breath better than synthetics. Select a mild cologne or perfume. Citrusy scents are light and most people find them pleasant. Clean fingernails are an imperative for both men and women. Select neutral nail polish such as muted tones,  nudes and opaque basic colors.

Use accessories wisely. For veiled women, select scarves made out of light weight fabrics. Course textures of some scarves distort sounds due to friction when you move your head and might impede your hearing. Select colors and toned downed designs that compliment your outfit. Sequined and Fringed scarves are not appropriate for the office. Lightweight laptop bags with multiple compartments is both functional and practical for a busy professional on the go. Select a durable material in a dark color. While on business trips or external meetings, make good use of tech cases, stationary and small accessories like power-banks and memory sticks that are branded with your corporate logo. They are great promotional tools and convey a sense of Pride in your corporate identity.

Finally, remember to select something that makes you feel relaxed and confident. Your poise and assurance will be communicated loud and clear with every stance and stride you take in your business attire.

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