Style cue from the boss
The New Zealand Herald Workplace section
August 2, 2004 - article by Janine Ogier
How you are regarded at work has a lot to do with
presentation, says Paul Barrett, adjunct professor of psychometrics
and performance management at the Auckland University faculty of
So the pay rise you seek, the promotion you covet,
and any dealings with management can be smoothed by your appearance.
Just like any other environment, workplaces are
governed by group conformity, dynamics and stereotypes.
The best way to determine how to get ahead from
a presentation perspective is to reflect what the boss is wearing,
whether it's a suit or jeans, and to be aware of what is the group
norm, Barrett says.
People who wear something different stand out.
That is a good tactic if you are being deliberate, but it is a negative
thing if you are doing it inadvertently.
Psychological evidence suggests a departure from
the dress code will be measured against mitigating factors such
as job performance and physical attractiveness, he says.
Customer perceptions also centre on presentation
and appearance. In a streetwear retailer people expect the sales
staff to be casually attired, but in Smith and Caughey's, a pristine
and sophisticated appearance is anticipated.
Auckland image consultant Susan Axford says
people have seven seconds to make an impression at a first meeting
and half of that impression is made up of what you are wearing.
"You want to be noticed for how you do your job
but because we are such a visual society, people do take into account
how you look," she says.
And it's not just the clothes that. Grooming,
such as clean shoes and fingernails, and eye contact and a good
handshake are also crucial.
"If you look as if you have put some effort into
yourself, if you look as if you care for yourself, it gives you
an air of professionalism," ay Axford, whose company Your Style
advises people on a wardrobe to suit their needs.
"If you look good, you have more confidence, you
feel better, you perform better and people relate to you better
- there's a whole chain reaction,"says Axford.