Workplace outfits and presentation

Would you wear expensive outfits to work? You know, silk suits, pretty dresses, or smart formal clothes – just to impress? These outfits usually require delicate cleaning; after all you would not just chuck a suit made from expensive fabrics into the washing machine!

Some of the more expensive suits and dresses are also dry clean only, which means they are cleaned using special chemicals in a machine. Now, we all have a washing machine but it is unlikely we will have a dry cleaning machine at home! Unless you are a millionaire and have more money to burn than the average individual, it is unlikely you would have such a unit at your home, and even if you wore an assortment of dry clean only outfits to work, necessitating frequent cleaning it is unlike you would want a dry clean machine ruining the look of your penthouse!

So it looks as if dry cleaning services and formal wear rental shops will continue to stay. But what if this practice was extended beyond the boundaries of occasional formal wear, to within the zones of daily work wear?

The adage goes that you dress for the job you aspire to achieve, not for the one you are currently at. And why would people say that? It is because when people see you everyday, they have an image of how you fit into your work organisation. If you dress like someone who looks like they belong in the higher echelons of the organisation, then when there is a promotion opportunity, you will have already put yourself in the frame because it is possible for others to visualise you in the role. You have already played your part by looking the part, and subconsciously you are ahead of the chasing pack. It may mean that you dress slightly ahead of your pay grade, but this is nothing to be ashamed of, it demonstrates you have aspirations beyond your current job scope and there is absolutely nothing wrong in showing you have ambition. Dressing well is putting yourself into the selection frame, so that the interview team can decide if you have the skills they need. But if you don’t dress like you have ambition, then you will never be in the selection shortlist, even if you have the skills.

Dressing for the part is important, but one should not neglect to work on talent too. The classical music composer Joseph Haydn was often teased about his clothes as a young person, but through effort and hard work he made it to the position of music maestro in the courts of Prince Esterhazy of Vienna, where it is likely he did not have to worry about raggedy clothes any more. (You can learn more about Haydn from the Piano Lessons N10 blog, and also other bits of trivia such as why his tomb has two skulls.) It is important to note he got the job first and then improved his presentation – will society come to the point where we have to improve our presentation vastly just to have a chance at a job?

Worrying thoughts.