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Most ladies doll up, although there is a minority that doesn’t. That could be part of their “style” you say. Personally, I do not have a problem how they choose to dress up. The problem arrives though when they are wearing a separate hat, and the image which they present to other parties when wearing that “hat”.
Imagine you are a professional executive working in one of the nicest office in the city but your dressing totally does not reflect that at the workplace. I have seen young executives strutting into their offices in messy hair, looking as if they have just got up of bed, wearing shirts with strands of threads straying from their once-used-to-be immaculate shirts. That might mirror a frequent sight outside lecture halls when we were back in college. However, transposing this to the main lobby of a finely-designed architecture just looks completely out!
When I was back in college, I was told by one of my professors in class –“You are your own brand”. How one would present themselves, speaks, gestures, everything about that individual, define what he/she is. This is especially more acute at the work place. When you meet a client, you are not meeting the client in your capacity, but as a representative of the organization which you are working for. When the client looks at you, he/she doesn’t see John Smith, but the corporation which your namecard indicates. As such, we see numerous individuals who are working in sales roles or client facing roles sometimes being the better dressed individuals in offices. However, does that mean that the rest of us in non-client facing roles can afford to pay less attention in our image and dressing?
The answer is no. Let me give you an example. I know a paralegal working in one of the most established off-shore law firms in Singapore. For those who might be faithful followers of legal dramas such as “Suits” or “Boston Legal”, you would know that all individuals working in the firm, from support roles such as legal secretaries or receptionist, to professional fee earning roles such as paralegals and the lawyers themselves, do not dress shabbily. This is the professional code for white-shoe law firms. Although some of the boutique firms might distinguish themselves differently and I know of partners who goes to work in Hawaiian shirts. But then, that is a different story that would warrant another article to discuss the deviation. This paralegal, lets call her Olivia, dresses no different from the lady who would go to the supermarket to get her groceries. In contrast, the intern in the firm dresses much better than she does. Although a paralegal in name, she is in fact, getting less important tasks to work on compared to the intern, who we will identify as Tasha. Tasha gets to attend client meetings, while the Olivia stays in the office to work on menial tasks. When a new lawyer joins the firm, Tasha got instructed on the tasks rather than Olivia. When questioned, the lawyers answered “I am not bringing her into the client meetings with the way that she is dressed! She doesn’t exude professionalism and what would the client think of such a fee-earner in the firm”.
We all know looks can be deceiving. Although Olivia doesn’t dress the part, however, the lawyers do not deny her ability to shine in her tasks. However, comparatively, she has lose out much more opportunities and exposure to the intern due to her dressing. More importantly, she is not viewed as someone who is good enough to execute her duties as according to one lawyer “she looks like an admin officer sitting in one corner”.
It is important to note that by dressing the part, you are professional in your work. However, to be a professional, dressing the part is important!
Do you feel that you are lacking in the professional look arena? Go get a new hairdo, a pair of new heels or that new makeup set that you have been eyeing! You will be surprised how big a transformation it will be by just dressing for that part.
Image cover credit: Victor1558
Guest post written by Kit Lim: Kit enjoys discussing social issues, is interested in fashion, loves travelling to new places and connecting with new people. By day, she works as a business development executive in Singapore and during her free time, maintains her blogshop and she has also recently started a new business venture with her husband. Originally from Singapore, Kit has lived in Tokyo, Mumbai and the U.S. She practices yoga in between her crazy schedules and lives by the phrase “living your life every minute everyday”.