Career

3 Ways Your Boss is Judging the Way You Look

proper office attire singapore

Joanne Poh

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Back when I was an employee in a stuffy CBD firm, I once showed up at work in hippie pants with elephant prints and flip flops. Needless to say, I didn’t last long in that job.

No matter how brightly you think your personality sparkles, your boss is going to judge you based on the way you look. Unless you’re a Korean soap opera star, you probably shouldn’t go for rhinoplasty just because your boss comments on your nose… but here are some things it’s not too hard to change.

Level of Formality

The preferred uniform of choice for the rat race.
The preferred uniform of choice for the rat race.

Singapore is a place where people turn up for fancy wedding banquets in jeans and the national costume consists of shorts and slippers.

Lynn, a 30-year-old marketing manager, recalls one of her first interviews at a local bank. “I showed up in a suit and the interviewer exclaimed, ‘You’re the first person who’s turned up appropriately attired!’ I ended up getting the job.”

While it might seem suicidal to wear a suit and tie in this weather, it’s usually a good idea to sweat it out when you go for interviews if you’re looking to score a job in banking, finance, consulting and the like.

And ladies, throwing on a blazer over a bodycon dress and stripper heels does not instantly transform your clubbing outfit into a corporate one.

Grooming

Unless, of course, you're auditioning for the next big indie band.
Unless, of course, you’re auditioning for the next big indie band.

So you’ve bought the requisite dress shirt and pants or pencil skirt and now look like a poster child for G2000 (notice how even the name of the brand sounds like a piece of machinery?).

Putting on the right articles of clothing does not instantly turn you into George Clooney. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

As much as you might pride yourself on your 7-minute morning routine, try to make a sincere attempt at proper grooming.

For men, this means styling your hair and making sure everything you wear fits well and is ironed. If everything you own is huge, consider tailoring (hint: it’s much cheaper in Thailand, Vietnam or China).

Ladies, hate to break it to you, but unless you have flawless skin and striking features, female bosses in particular are probably going to judge you for not wearing makeup.

“One of my bosses once screamed at me, ‘Can you not come in looking so sleepy every day? For goodness’ sake, at least wear some tinted moisturiser, you look so pale!’” Lynn laments.

Quality of Your Clothing

Having clothes so comfortable even your boss wants to sleep on them is probably not a good thing.
Having clothes so comfortable even your boss wants to sleep on them is probably not a good thing.

In the corporate world, it’s probably better not to come in looking as if you bought all your attire from the clothing section at Giant.

How expensive your clothing should look depends on your industry and your rank, but in general so long as you don’t dress more expensively than your boss, you’re good to go.

One trick that can make your clothes look more expensive is to get them altered to fit your body better. Avoid fake leather bags and shoes as they tend to look cheaper and flimsier with age.

Have you ever been chided by your boss about your appearance? Share your experiences in the comments!

Image Credits:
Dave CollierStephen McLeod Blythe, cam17

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.