Entering the workplace is an intimidating experience for anyone. As students, we have few responsibilities other than our studies and we get used to a certain way of life. Shedding this lifestyle can be difficult. We are suddenly expected to dress and act like professionals; to become responsible members of society. Acting like a professional may take decades to perfect. In fact, some of us never fully achieve this lofty goal. Dressing like a professional, however, is something that everyone can achieve.
As part of Backpack to Briefcase 2013, we asked Harry Matta – Regional Director of Harry Rosen – to speak about Dressing for Success. Talking to a room full of aspiring young professionals, Harry gave invaluable tips on how to build a professional wardrobe and to make the transition from wearing a hoodie and a backpack, to wearing a suit and a briefcase.
Your first impression is essential
Taking a page out of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Harry spoke on the importance of first impressions. Most employers assess potential employees within 60 seconds of meeting them. How you present yourself during these crucial moments can be the deciding factor in whether or not your get that amazing job. Above all, this means dressing professionally. If an employer is put off by your appearance at an interview, you have lost half the battle before saying a word.
Dress for the position you want, not the position you have
In a professional environment, people often make the mistake of under dressing. The easiest way to learn theappropriate dress code in a workplace is to observe the boss. Try to imitate the way they dress as much as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to compromise who you are. Feel free to add your personal style; a splash of colour via a nice tie or a shiny, new pair of shoes will be noticed. That being said, always keep in mind that you are working in a professional environment and that should be reflected in what you wear.
You can’t go wrong with a suit.
A suit is probably the most versatile piece of clothing in your closet. Depending on what you wear underneath, you can make a suit look extremely professional for that first interview, or a little more laidback for a casual Friday. However, remember to keep the look consistent.Your first suit should be in a dark colour and mid weight so that it can be used all year round. You should generally own 3 to 5 shirts and ties in complementary patterns. If possible, stick to blues, whites and greys and then add some colour and personality through your accessories. When it comes to dry cleaning the suit, remember that less is more. Dry cleaning involves harsh chemicals and processes that damage the suit and should be done rarely. Ideally, you should only dry clean your suit once a year. If you do happen to spill something on it, try spot cleaning and pressing
The finishing touches.
Personal grooming is just as important as what you wear, if not more so. It is essential to come to work with neat and properly trimmed hair and nails. Employers generally perceive your appearance to be reflective of your work. If you show up to work with long, unkempt hair and dirty nails, they will assume that you give the same attention to detail to your job. Well pressed shirts and shiny shoes will show your employers that you are willing to put that extra effort into the details.
- 1 white shirt
- 3 to 4 patterned shirts
- 3 to 4 ties that complement your shirts
- Black lace up shoes
- Black leather belt
- Four or five pairs of socks.
- Dark, dressy suit made of a mid-weight material
In the end, dressing for success takes a conscious effort and may cost some money. However, the value that is attained by looking professional cannot be discounted. Like it or not, people tend to judge a book by its cover. By ensuring that we always look professional, we can just about guarantee that the first impression we make is positive. After that, it is up to us to maintain that perception.