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Are You Dressed for Success?

How fast does it take for someone to form a good or bad first impression of you? Research has shown that first impressions are formed within ten to thirty seconds, whether good or bad. It is imperative that you project a professional, polished and assured image within this window of opportunity for people to decide whether you are suitable for that job vacancy, project or promotion.

Take some time to evaluate your style. Does your dressing say, ‘I am the appropriate candidate’ or ‘I am incompetent’? Let us look at some of the fashion mistakes or disasters people make at work, some of which they do not even realise.

You show up for a job interview in jeans, T-shirt and sport shoes.
  • What your style says about you: I cannot be bothered to dress professionally for the position and it does not matter whether I get the job or not.

For job interviews, make sure that you are overdressed rather than underdressed. For ladies, a jacket suit will never go wrong. For gentlemen, a long sleeve shirt and tie is sufficient unless you are going for a top management position where it is good to throw on a jacket. Again it is preferable to be on the conservative side when it comes to the colour and style of your clothes for the job interview. Engage a Personal Branding Coach if you are not sure what cut, colour, fit and style suit your particular body shape and size.

You like to wear ultra mini skirts, low cut revealing tops or cropped tops with hipster pants or skirts to work.
  • What your style says about you: I am not serious about my work and if I face any problems, I can easily get help from my male colleagues by using feminine charm.

Chances are yes, you may be ‘popular’ with some of your male colleagues but you may also be the target of juicy gossip during tea break or lunch hour. If you want to be taken seriously at work, dress professionally with a touch of class. Flip through magazines to get inspiration or get expert help.

You think that it is alright to maintain your own individuality by colouring your hair with streaks of blue, pink or green etc so that you will stand out from your other colleagues.
  • What your style says about you: I don't care about my company's culture because I think it is nonsense.

People make judgements based on your appearance. You may think that doing something different makes you look special but be careful of what image is projected. Follow the office culture rather than going against it as it shows that you are not a team player. If you want to stand out, excel in your work instead. That is better in the long run.

You have visible body piercing and tattoos which you feel is very cool to show off at work.
  • What your style says about you: I can't be bothered about what clients and colleagues think of me. I just want to do things that I like.

Again the management may feel that you are projecting a wrong image to the clients and it may be detrimental to the business.

As you are meeting your friends to go clubbing after work, you think that it is alright to show up at work wearing club wear.
  • What your style says about you: I like to dress provocatively as I have a choice of what to wear and the company should not bother about my dressing as long as I come to work.

If you want to be taken seriously, do not mix your personal life with business. Management will not consider such people for promotion as they feel that these people are not projecting a good image of the company.

You go to work with crumpled shirt or worn out clothes, thinking that no one will bother.
  • What your style says about you: I do not put in effort in my dressing so I will not put in effort in any assignment that the company assigns to me. I may even mess things up.

You won't instill much confidence and trust from your employer since you cannot take good care of yourself. Your clients may also feel this way and it can be damaging to your career in the long run.

Your work attire screams ‘retro, retro, retro!’ and looks like they come from the 70’s.
  • What your style says about you: I am out of style because I rarely come out of my cubicle and interact with my colleagues or clients. I do not want a promotion and expect to retire from this position, years down the road.

Nowadays, you do not need a lot of money to build up a professional, neat and current wardrobe. Check with a Personal Branding Coach on how to build up a capsule wardrobe, with a few staple items, that will give you mileage in the long run.

You haphazardly match clothes, without taking into consideration the colours, designs and patterns.
  • What your style says you: I am too lazy to coordinate my clothes properly, so please do not count on me to do a good presentation or project.

Knowing how colours harmonise with one another is the first step to matching your clothes well. Do not mix and match too many designs and patterns unless you are an expert in this field. The size of the designs and patterns should be in proportion to your frame.

Go for a makeover with a Style Consultant/Image Trainer if you are in any of the situations mentioned above. Even if you are not, it is still advisable to approach one so that he/she will be able to advise if you are adopting the right style and if not, how to change accordingly. A Style Consultant will be able to teach you how to dress according to your body shape, camouflage figure flaws, keep in mind occasions both social and business, appropriate make-up, hairstyling, and dining etiquette. Usually after going though sessions with a Style Consultant, an individual will emerge as a more confident and happier person.

Article Contributed by Ms Elaine Heng, Senior Consultant, Training Edge International on 12 Jan 2009.

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