Aug 25, 2015

    Dress for success, not to attract attention

    AS CORPORATE brand and image trainers, we hear frequent complaints from top management on how young employees dress and carry themselves inappropriately.

    The most common mistakes are clothes which are too casual, revealing, short and tight. What many youth do not realise is that their sloppy or provocative dressing may have a big impact on the progression of their careers and even their personal lives.

    So, for those of you who are new to corporate life, bear in mind that every garment you put on says something about you: your character, educational background, culture, family values, confidence and self-esteem.

    There is no such thing as neutral clothing.

    Specific characteristics, traits or design details in clothing send a message.

    When you walk out, you represent not only yourself, but your family, friends, your bosses and the company you work for.

    Therefore, you need to be aware of your own clothing cues, the messages you are sending and the response you gain from them.

    You dress not to gain attention, but for success.


    Torn, faded or baggy jeans may suggest that you have a careless and lazy attitude.

    A crumpled, un-ironed shirt gives the impression of you not paying attention to details.

    Working pants that are too tight - seen frequently on young adults nowadays - may suggest that you are not bothered about corporate settings.

    Better choices:

    Jackets or suits in dark solid colours

    Long-sleeved business shirts in light colours

    Subtle patterns on ties

    Tailored pants in dark colours like black, grey and navy


    Uncoordinated outfits and/or clashing colours give the impression that you are disorganised and unprofessional.

    Overly trendy clothing worn in a conservative profession might give the impression that you care more about fashion than your work.

    Frills, ruffles, lace and florals make you appear immature and less ready for an important project or position.

    Low-cut blouses and skirts that are too short may portray you as lacking self-control and awareness of appropriate dress code.

    Ill-fitting clothes display poor taste and show that you are unaware of your physical liabilities.

    Choose to wear:

    Working suits in dark solid colours like black, grey, navy and burgundy

    Outfits with a maximum of two to three colours

    Patterns or prints that are subtle and business-like

    Tailored dresses

    Outfits with matching cardigans or blazers

    Blouses with tailored skirts or pants

    Shoes with heels and preferably covered


    The writer is president of the Malaysian Association of Brand & Image Consultants, and a director of the Brand Image International Institute.

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