There has been much talk in the media recently about dress codes during office hours, particularly for ladies: are such stringent dress codes old fashioned and patronising? Or do our clothes say more about us than we may think?
An increasing number of international businesses are sending employees on courses to learn basic business etiquette and presentation skills. The media has made much of this in recent days, highlighting the importance of dress for women in particular, and when interviewed on BBC Radio 2, columnist Amanda Platell remarked that she writes her newspaper column from her home in full business dress and lipstick to give her the appropriate ‘corporate’ persona.
What we wear, and how we wear it, can speak volumes. It is important to get the right look for the right occasion. Look at the advertisements for Apple computers, where they use anthropomorphise Apple and Windows computers. The former, whose machines are sleek, all in one and appeal mainly to a younger, more creative market, use a hip, young, trendy man, whereas the Windows character is a suited, balding man with a slight paunch. The juxtaposition instantly conveys two very different images.
Having said that, we would not advocate that for work you based your style on the Apple man. It’s about getting a middle ground. A suit is timeless and can be worn by any generation. In business it is much better to dress more conservatively than you may do in your own time.
For the ladies, too much make up can allude to a lack of confidence – less is always more; skirts up to the nostrils are never appropriate: ideally, the hem should be just below the knee.
The English Manner are running a course on contemporary business skills in March, where dress-codes, presentation and much more will be covered. For more information, please click here.
Tutor, The English Manner