Fashion: Dress for success

So, you go to work in that, office dress code, but still want to be stylish and comfortable. It’s a tricky thing to accomplish, but get it right and both your boss and your colleagues will love your style!

So, you go to work in that, office dress code, but still want to be stylish and comfortable. It’s a tricky thing to accomplish, but get it right and both your boss and your colleagues will love your style!

“I believe going casual in any office is inappropriate. I could care less how hot the whether maybe, but every office should have a dress code if they are focusing on the advancement of their office,” said Karen Umurerwa, an employee of Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR).

“This goes back to image and branding for your company, says Sandra Uwase, an employee of MTN. She adds that, when staffers dress for work as if they are going to the beach, there is also likely to be plenty of resentment among co-workers who do dress more professionally. And we also have to consider the message our dressing sends to our customer.

Jackson Murangira,a journalist for Umurabyo, a local vernacular news paper, says, “Of course, what you wear at work depends on what you do. If you work in the media, for instance, you’ll probably dress very differently from if you work at a bank.”

What goes will depend on your office but in general an office dress code strictly means not wearing jeans, sportswear, or revealing clothes.

According to Shiloh Gasana, a secretary in one of the ministries, it’s important for every office to have a dress code, and even if an organistion doesn’t have one yet, the boss still has the right to tell his staffers to wear more appropriate attire.

Office bosses need to explain to workers that how they dress delivers a message to customers and vendors. A dress code should be appropriate for that company or institution but it should be specific.

For example, if you want to oblige workers to wear suits and ties, you should specify how long they should be, and if you are banning causal wear, let it be included in the rules and regulations.

Before setting the dress code, the boss needs to consider the working environment. If the office is congested and have no air conditioner, you should remedy the situation, and, in the process, acknowledge your employees’ needs.

“If it’s all right for women to wear sleeveless tops but not tank tops, and if their blouses shouldn’t be made of see-through fabric, you need to state that as well,” says Jacqueline Gasaro, a shop assistant, down town. 

Getting it right

Getting dressed for the office doesn’t mean leaving your personal style behind. Find out which looks give you a polished, professional look and which fashions can be a career killer.

Your goal to getting dressed for work is to project a professional, competent image, regardless of your employement level or career path.

The styles, colours, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will speak volumes about your ability to do your job. If you are concerned about your career, you’ll be more concerned with looking professional than looking cute or trendy.

In general, the more distracting a piece of clothing or jewelry is, the less appropriate it is for office wear.

Some tips

Colour plays a big part in professional image. Traditional career colours include red (aggressive), navy (trustworthy), gray (conservative) and black (chic). Most of these colors work well in trouser suits, skirts and shoes and mix back with softer feminine colours that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory.

Loud colours like hot pink and wild prints are much riskier in the office, but some creative types can still pull them off. Jewelry that jangles (chandelier earrings, stacks of bangles) is distracting. Opt for stud earrings or single bracelets.

Slouchy handbags look sloppy. Choose structured styles that project an organized image. Most of what constitutes a polished image is in the details: manicured nails, run-free tights, scuff-free shoes, neat hair.

Fit is everything when you are talking about tailored work clothes. Trousers should be fitted, but free of visible panty lines. Skirts, especially straight styles like pencil skirts, should be loose enough to sit down in comfortably. Jackets should be able to be buttoned. And blouses shouldn’t gap between buttonholes.

Career Killers

Unlike a fashion faux pas, a career killer outfit can do your professional image permanent damage. Looks to avoid in the workplace: Too sexy: see-through lace, miniskirts, spaghetti straps, sheer sundresses, strappy stiletto sandals.

Too casual: jeans, shorts, T-shirts, hats, sneakers.
Too sloppy: wrinkled clothing, too many layers, baggy-fit clothing.