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Dress to Impress

        Take a tip from designer Zandra Rhodes and dress like you have taken care.      

Can you, hand-on-heart, say that you know what any item is on your dress code? To take it a step further — do you know where to find the policy? Do you even care? 

Just so you know which side of the dress fence I’m on, I’ll start by ‘coming out’. I’ve always held the firm and simple view that you should dress for the job you aspire to, rather than the position you hold today. So if you want to be a director or manager, look at how they dress and follow suit.

Views on what or what not to wear at work can vary dramatically between employees sitting opposite each other, let alone across companies or industries. For the purpose of this blog, let’s assume that my opinions are confined to our industry — recruitment. 

The choice of what to wear in the workplace tends to be a mix of fashion, culture, workplace trends, comfort, weather and preference. Last summer I watched a group of people board the office-bound train dressed for the beach. Flip-flops have no place on the office floor — apart from anything else, they breach health & safety laws. 

Gents, don’t leave me yet, this applies to you too. Something that may appear loosely casual can be turned into being much more the part — with a bit of clever accessorising. So before you pull out the jeans in the morning, slip on the trainers going out the door, bare lots of flesh because the weather is hot, decide not to shave (or iron) because you’ve had a late one, or not bother with the hair because your trains wait for no man (or woman)… take a second, stand back to look at yourself and ask…. “Do I look the part? Is my look in the spirit of the company and appropriate for the audience?” 

If the answer is “I’m not sure”, then go back and start all over again.

Happily conforming to the female stereotype, I take pleasure in buying and wearing clothes for work. Given how much time I spend in them, the CPW (cost per wear) is infinitely better than any of my casual wardrobe. I don’t think you need a lot of money to look good. For me, it’s about the time and effort that you put in.

I do have a point, and here it is: Zandra Rhodes, famous for her pink hair, has been dressing international stars and royalty for over five decades. When she received an honorary doctorate at Rochester University, she said to the students: “You may not like what I wear, indeed you may find it strange, but it took me a lot of time and effort, and I would not come here to talk to you unless I had put that effort in. Please remember this when you go into the outside world looking for a job. You must dress like you have taken care, too.” 

Rhodes’ dramatic look is part of her identity and what she does, but the real point I want to make is the effort that it takes is evident… maybe skip the pink hair. 

Clothes don’t make the man (or woman) but they certainly go a long way towards making an impact. The office isn’t a catwalk but it’s not a pyjama party or a nightclub, either.

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