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CareersWith the onset of spring, professionals across Pakistan, will fold their sweaters and revert to the usual dress code. But have you ever walked into your office and observed everyone, particularly the way they are dressed? The least professional will tend to dress sloppily while those dressed as if they were going to a wedding may not be taken very seriously. No surprise then that 41% of the employers surveyed by Careerbuilder.com said that they are likely to promote employees who dress ‘professionally’.

As the old adage goes, “Dress not for the job you have, but for the one you want”, because what you wear reflects how you feel about your job. At work, you want to be remembered for the timely execution of your projects, your effectiveness in dealing with an unruly team or the ability to nail a presentation. Your clothes should not take away from that nor do you want to be too caught up with how you look. An appropriate dress sense helps build an image, exhibits your personality and reflects on your ability to ‘fit in’ and ‘lead’.

For men, the most important elements of dressing appropriately include the shirt, shoes and hair. A shirt can have any pattern  so long as it is not too over the top and is clean and freshly ironed; shoes should be stylish (not clunky), clean and polished. When it comes to hair styling, avoid faux-hawks and spikes. Keep the hair manageable, and above, all clean.

Women have the advantage of having more to play with, but even so they need only focus on basics such as hair, accessories and shoes to make the right impression. Accessories, like clothes, should be simple and subtle rather than gaudy and distracting. Winter shoes can be replaced with low heel sandals or slip-ons. As for hair, a simple bun never goes out of style, while straight hair is easy to carry all day.

Remember, reserve the glamour for the parties, while the slob is best left at home. An employee who dresses neatly and professionally is someone everyone respects and listens to.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator and dress code mentor at a multinational company. Mehreen.ah@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 24, 2013.