If an employee’s skirt is too short, their shoes too scuffed or hair too long, Wendy Mak is the woman business executives call to sort them out.
The corporate stylist works with the country’s top law firms, big four banks and ASX-listed companies to educate their employees about how to dress appropriately in the workplace.
“I’ve been called into these companies to work with their executives whose clothing was too tight, too short, too worn, and their outfits were not reflective of the seniority of their position or the company’s brand,” Ms Mak, author of the upcoming book The Capsule Wardrobe – 1000 Outfits From 30 Pieces, told news.com.au.
She says there are no hard and fast rules about appropriate workplace attire, but it’s important you look well put-together. Looking unkempt or shabby sends a message that you’re not an authority figure and that you don’t care about your image.
“At the end of the day, you can wear whatever suits you,” Ms Mak said. “Look at someone like Steve Jobs, who commanded the room even though he wore a turtle neck and jeans.
“It’s about quality. You don’t have to spend bucketloads of money, you don’t have to buy designer threads, but you need to look like you’ve put thought into it and considered the details.”
Ms Mak consults with clients about every aspect of their wardrobe, right down to the kinds of stationery they use.
“With males we go right down to things like pocket squares, socks, mobile phone covers, even the types of pens and notebooks they carry around with them. It’s the whole package,” she said.Save
She spends most of her time with female clients trying to refine their overall look.
“I was working with a female CEO recently who was very well put together and very well groomed. But she had scratched shoes and a worn handbag she’d been using everyday for years and years,” Ms Mak said.
“Those two items alone really let her down, everything else was great. It detracted from the whole package.”
Here are Ms Mak’s tips on what to wear to work and which items you need to ditch immediately.
DO’S FOR MEN
Invest in a casual sports jacket
“One of the things many men overlook is a really nice, professional-looking sports blazer or sports jacket,” Ms Mak said.
“Outside of your regular suit, if you’re going to do a dressed-down look, having a tailored casual jacket just lifts the outfit. It’s something you can wear on casual Fridays, after hours or out on the weekend when you’re entertaining clients.”
Wear a pocket square
“Pocket squares are a great way to add a bit of flair and personality to an otherwise boring suit,” she said.
DO’S FOR WOMEN
“I just find even really simple stud earrings can finish the look, to complete the whole image,” Ms Mak said.
When you find something you like, buy multiples
“When clients of mine find shoes they really like – it might be high heels at a really comfortable height – the minute they find them they buy multiple pairs and get them up in every colour,” she said.
THINGS TO AVOID
Letting white clothing get shabby
“A lot of white pieces of clothing, especially shirts and blouses, start to lose their crispness very quickly. A lot of people hang onto them longer than they should,” Ms Mak said.
Wearing scuffed or worn shoes and bags
“Women can get away with buying cheaper clothes. You can get really nice pieces at lower prices, but what I find it harder to get away with are shoes and bags,” Ms Mak said.
“You can get a nice dress for $50 online but it’s hard to find a nice pair of shoes or a handbag for that price. Shoes can wear out quite quickly and because they are expensive, people tend not to replace them on a regular basis.
“But scuffed shoes ruin a look and they should always be replaced.
Getting too casual
“Casual workplaces, or even just casual Fridays, are much more open to interpretation and that’s where the danger lies. The first thing to remember is don’t get too relaxed. It’s still work so don’t get too complacent,” Ms Mak said.
“I find little things like wearing denim that is darker and not too distressed can ensure you still look professional. While ripped jeans look really cool and fashionable, if you’re a CEO and you have to go to a meeting with clients, it’s just inappropriate.”
Let your sneakers get too dirty
“If you’re in an environment where sneakers are OK, make sure they’re clean. If your white Converse or Adidas sneakers are now black and dirty, it’s time to get a new pair.
Source: The New Zealand Herald