The key is dressing professionally without trying too hard.
By Kornkanok Yongsakul
Have you ever got up in the morning and thought: “What should I wear to work or to an important meeting I have today?” It is an endless issue that ladies have to deal with every day. But, on the other hand, finding the right dress for the right occasion can be fun and creative. Dressing for different occasions reflects your character and presents who you are. The right attire also means that you are showing respect to the person and the place that you are in.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, the judgment people make about you happens in the first five seconds they see you. This snapshot usually includes at least your smile, hair, and posture, which are basic to making a good impression on anyone, anywhere. If you want to read more about Gladwell´s ideas on the matter, read his book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.”
Dressing for work means dressing up for your company and your responsibilities. If your company has a dress code, apply your style within those parameters. If you see a lot of clients or customers, consider that how they see you will also have an impact on how they will feel about your company.
Of course, there are different looks and basic rules for the so-called “business style.” Let us go through some of the major ones, and learn how to pull them off nicely.
To avoid this problem, there’s only one piece of advice: Prepare your attire in advance. In the job interview, it is essential that you appear professional, and capable and confident without going overboard. Remember the smallest detail, perhaps a well-ironed suit or an organized purse, which can set you apart from your competitors.
Fine Shirt: Not too revealing, for example, one with a peter-pan collar. Sometimes pockets are not necessary because they might make you look bulky. Preferably a slim-fit, so when you wear the jacket on top, the shirt will fit in smoothly. I recommend simple patterns or basic one-colors, such as white (you can never go wrong with it), beige, baby blue, and pink.
Skirt: Preferably the same fabric as the suit, simple shapes such as straight or box-pleated A-line, or pencil skirt. Steer away from anything too fancy or revealing, such as miniskirts or too high slits.
Accessories: Try to keep it simple and minimalist. Wear something that presents who you are — it could be your lucky charm or grandmother´s ring. Wear pearls, studs, and even diamonds — in rings, earrings, and necklaces — but in moderation. Wear a watch as it makes you look pedantic. Think practical. For example, large bracelets make a disturbing noise when you move your hand. Thus, you should avoid them because they take the attention away from your talk and overall presentation.
Handbag: Choose a practical, high quality one made from leather. The size shouldn’t be too big; this makes the bag look too casual. No backpacks or gym bags here, either! But it should still be big enough to carry your portfolio. Don’t bring clutches or small purses because they are unnecessarily small and seem too festive.
Heels: Wear something that you can walk in, plus allows you to maintain a good posture. There are many different styles, such as kitten heels (2”inch), sling-backs, and pump shoes. Shoe production technology nowadays is so advanced that platform heels might be almost as comfortable as lower heels. So try to find a compromise, one that helps you to walk easily while still adding height.
Business Trip: Packing for a business trip can be a nightmare; you have to consider a chance that if you forget something, there might not be time and opportunity to replace it in your destination. So, before you even pull out your suitcase, do some research on the place you are going to. Check the climate/weather forecast, cultural fashion etiquette, what sort of meetings will you be attending (seminars, board meeting, presentation) and what is the local business style.
Trousers/Skirt: Pack a pair of smart black trousers and a lean pencil skirt that goes well with the jacket. The important part is the proportion and silhouette, so give yourself and your whole travel attire a look in a full-body mirror before packing the pieces into your suitcase.
Blouse/Shirt: Bring at least three tops and a white button-down shirt. Choose a pastel or neutral color, something that will match with everything else you’ve packed. Rich fabrics, such as silk or satin will go from day to night and fit well together with many different looks.
Jacket: The most important aspect of a jacket is that it fits. So I always recommend tailored and quality fabrics. Choose a lightweight wool-mixed fabric, and pick up a dark color such as warm grey, black, or navy. Blazers are also very transformable: You will see that the look can instantly change simply by wearing a fancier shirt underneath or adding a scarf or a belt.
Accessories: Bring a colorful scarf for a dash of character and warmth. A belt is the key; you can wear it over an A-Line dress, jacket or cardigan to create different looks. Bring well-chosen pieces of jewelry but favor the classics over trendy pieces, and always wear a watch, as it is practical and smart.
Shoe: Pack at least two pairs of shoes, one pair for the day and another for the evening. Choose your most comfortable and versatile pair of heels. Don’t go for something too trendy such as pointy heels or stilettos. Patent leather instead looks gorgeous, but is weatherproof and easy to take care of. The most important thing is that you can walk all day, so choose clean and neat business flats and avoid the risks of blisters by wearing only shoes you know have worked well before.
These are some examples of how to dress for success. There are many different dress codes that we have to consider. But as long as we know the basics and key rules these occasions should not be too hard to manage. The key is dressing professionally without trying too hard.
The last thing that you shouldn’t forget is: “Wear your smile” wherever you are. Even if business is your first goal do not forget the importance of the first impression. No matter who the person is at the other side of the table, in whichever culture, wearing a smile goes a long way.