In a perfect world, a person would be judged at their workplace based solely on the calibre of their work. Unfortunately, how you choose to dress each morning reflects whether you take your job seriously or not writes Style reporter YVONNE DITLHASE
The reality of the matter about the workplace is that people are sizing you up and down based on your appearance and clothing. Dressing for work means dressing for the company that is paying your salary. The styles, colours, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will speak volumes about your ability to do your job. Local stylist Mothusi Lesolle puts it this way: “If you are concerned about your career, you’ll be more concerned with looking professional than looking cute or trendy”. However, he states that getting dressed for the office does not mean leaving your personal style behind. The rule, according to Lesolle, is to keep it simple and clean.
“Remember you are selling the company brand, not yours,” he says. He explains that an office is a respectable environment where a person deals with different people who can either bring money into the company or get offended, based on the employee’s outfit since it creates first and lasting impressions. For example, the colour red, according to the source, symbolises love and if the employee is all covered in it, it could send wrong signals to visitors or clients. His advice is for the staff to wear neutral colours such as black, brown, grey or mix colours with caution.
Designers, fashion stylists and other experts have concluded that executive women make an array of mistakes when it comes to choosing what to wear for work. The mindset of a woman when it comes to clothes is ‘I have to be the best and set myself apart from the rest’ and this mentality has compromised modesty and professionalism in many offices. Tsholo Dikobe of GaTsh Fros Fashion Company states that women should flee from wearing over revealing and tight clothes. She explains that an employee who comes to work with exposed cleavage or thighs would distract clients from her own ideas, which can ruin productivity. The hairstyle is also a major element when it comes to corporate image. Dikobe says that an employee should not wear a hairstyle that hides or falls into their face as it may make them appear flirtatious and intimidate a client. As for shoes, pain-free ones are a solution so that one can be able to move from one office to another without discomfort. “Your look in the office speaks volume about your character and seriousness towards your work,” she says.
The application of make-up is also a must-be-careful area for a woman who wants to be taken seriously in a workplace. The rule according to Lesolle and Dikobe is not to over apply because the aim is not to change one’s looks but to enhance them. Too much make-up makes one appear like a hopeless attention seeker in the office. However, red lipstick remains a classic, according to Lesolle. When it comes to jewellery, Lesolle recommends simplicity. He states that big and colourful earrings have the potential of sending wrong signals to the next person, especially clients. Therefore, he recommends pearls or studs.
According to a US-based fashion company Design Organisation, women are making strides in the workplace. The source informs, however, that selecting what to wear to meetings, business dinners or just to the office remains a challenge. It adds that women should portray professionalism so that they can be trusted by their employers and clients alike. The source further condemns see-through lace, mini skirts, strappy sandals, too casual jeans, wrinkled clothing as career killers and recommends a closet of staple or high waist skirts, pants, pencil skirts, knee length dresses and decent blouses. “A well dressed woman is always at the helm of all things important and gains a lot of respect from her colleagues,” it says.
As for men, stylist Lesolle advises, they should wear the right length of trousers, which cover the socks. However, he says white socks are a turn-off and would not make clients take an employee seriously. Warm colours such as navy blue, brown and dark green tick depending on the trousers. In addition, he states that the shirt should be kept clean and be the right size. Dikobe adds that jeans are a big no-no except for casual Fridays.
In an interview, Boago Taukobong said dressing for the office extends the character of employees to their employers and clients. He always wears formal to work and enthuses that he has maintained good relations with his clients. “Powerful employees dress powerfully and to be taken seriously, they wear the right clothes to work,” he said.
All said and done, an employee’s physical presentation is a manifestation of their professional investment. To play the part, you have to look the part.