So, you thought that looking like a huge slob was only going to affect your success on Tinder, eh? Well, turns out your appearance is of interest not only to people considering your potential as their partner at their family’s next Chinese New Year gathering, but also to your current employer.
Just as your penchant for taking a shower every three days might make you a bit of an, uh, acquired taste on the dating market, don’t be surprised if it also subtly sabotages you at work. Here are four ways your appearance can hinder your career.
Dressing in a slovenly manner
Okay, we get it that different workplaces can have completely different dress codes. You might not look out of place rocking up to work in a pair of Havaianas at the MoneySmart office, but if you’re working in a bank you’re pretty much expected to look like a walking ad for G2000. And if you’re working as a swimwear model, well.
But no matter how you’re expected to dress in your industry, coming in looking slovenly or dirty is a big no-no. People do not want to get the feeling that you lack personal hygiene or couldn’t be bothered to look into the mirror when you got up in the morning.
Even if turning up in casual attire is okay in your line of work, you still need to make sure your hair doesn’t look like a bird’s nest, that your clothes aren’t creased and that you look like a well-groomed young person.
Dressing too casually for your line of work
In Singapore offices, even in super formal environments like banks or consulting firms, you frequently see people walking around in flip flops. These folks come into the office wearing their leather shoes or high heels, and then change out into flip flops. What’s the problem right? When you have to see a client, you just need to change shoes, right?
But guess what, if you are seen by your bosses and colleagues looking sloppy every day, they are going to evaluate you more negatively. Think of the guys who are always promoted first or whom the boss favours—most of the time these are the people who make sure they’re always impeccably dressed, even when noone’s looking.
We all have that colleague who shows up to the office on Friday dressed like she’s going to Zouk, but thinks her outfit is office appropriate so long as she throws on a blazer.
If your clothing makes people feel uncomfortable or is inappropriate in any way, it’s going to cost you brownie points at the office. So no, those stripper heels might look nice with your pencil skirt but they’re not office appropriate.
Dressing in a way that doesn’t reflect your company’s values
When a company hires or promotes someone, they’re seldom just looking for an employee who can get the job done. They’re looking for someone who can be an extension of the company, who can espouse the company’s values and fit into the company culture. Sadly, that’s also why stories abound of racist employers who will only consider candidates of a certain ethnic background, and why certain sales jobs require you to be a good drinker.
Dressing in a way that doesn’t reflect your company’s values might not put you in breach of the official dress code, but it might alienate you from your bosses and colleagues. Unfortunately, in most office environments, individuality isn’t really valued, and if you stray too far from the ideal, you’ll have a hard time being viewed as a team player or “one of them”.
That’s why tattoos and piercings are usually frowned upon in conservative corporate environments. Conversely, if you’re working in PR, try to avoid wearing clothes that look like they came from Giordano.
How do you dress at work? Tell us in the comments!