The art of corporate dressing

SAICA Admin Oct 31, 2017


The dress code in the working environment - even the more corporate firms – has definitely relaxed in recent years. That said, the less formal environment sometimes makes it even harder to get it right and there is a fine line between professional dressing that is perhaps more casual, and clothing that is downright inappropriate.

The best way to determine what you should and shouldn’t be wearing is to look around your office and take cues from your colleagues. Most companies have a dress code, which will guide you and if not, you should be able to see what is expected simply by looking around you. Chances are, if people are wearing suits and ties every day except Friday, that’s what you should be doing too.

Ultimately - like it or not - people are judged on appearance – and it’s very often something that plays a role in your success. It may be purely subconscious, but employers tend to link appearance to performance, according to an article on execstyle.com.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to get corporate dressing right. For starters, choose quality over quantity. As a trainee, you may not have unlimited budget to spend on clothes, so go for a few well cut, classical pieces in a good fabric. They may cost more, but they’re well worth it. Consider factors such as cut and sizing – wearing a size too big or too small simply doesn’t look good. Likewise, choose a cut that suits your body type, as opposed to what is in fashion.

Pay attention to what your appearance says about you. An untidy handbag or laptop bag, with items spilling out can make you look disorganised, as will arriving at work with wet hair, which suggests that you ran out of time and you’re all over the place.

Colour too is important when it comes to dressing for work. Darker colours indicate that you’re serious and assertive, while wearing more pale colours can make you fade into the background. Bright and flashy colours are better suited to weekend wear.

Women in the workplace should avoid anything that is too revealing – watch hemlines that are too short or low cut tops – even very high heels. Again, while its not ideal to be judged on what you wear, dressing inappropriately could mean that you’re not taken as seriously as you should be. As the article says, ‘rather be remembered for what you say, than what you wear’.

Men too need to ensure they’re well groomed. Full beards may be all the rage, but they’re not great for an office environment. That said, any facial hair should be clipped and groomed, your socks should be longer so that no skin is exposed when you cross your legs (especially with today’s shorter pants’ length) and hair should be neat and tidy.

It goes without saying for men and women alike that accessories should be less as opposed to more, tattoos should be out of sight and your appearance is at all times professional, even if you work in a less formal environment.  

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