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IT professionals, dress for success
Sunder Ramachandran

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August 09, 2006

In case you hadn't realised it, you are judged in the first 30 seconds of your interaction with your boss, colleagues or clients. Which is why dressing appropriately can have a positive impact, giving you the edge over your competition. Here's our dressing guide for some common scenarios that professionals in the IT industry encounter at work.

Client meetings

You need to make a positive impression as you are representing your organisation. Dress conservatively and stick to business formals. Black trousers, blue shirt and striped ties are good combo. It is safer to wear trousers in dark grey, black or deep navy, at least for your first meeting with the client, as they give an impression of professionalism.

. A crisp white/blue shirt on top will help you command formality and respect.

. A red tie on a blue shirt or dark blue striped tie will also give you a professional look. Make sure you match the colour of your tie with your trousers.

. Have a formal jacket ready in black or navy blue -- universal colours that can be worn on top of any attire.

The weekly conference call

You need to provide updates about the progress of a current task to your counterparts or clients through video conferencing. Wear business casuals. This refers to no jacket-no tie kind of attire. Khakis, slacks and dress shirts are acceptable as business casual. You can club a corduroy trouser in black or brown with a formal striped shirt and leather shoes in black or brown. Do not wear T-shirts on a Thursday though. Your business casual-day outfit should be formal enough that you can throw on a jacket and meet a client, if you suddenly need to.

The project meeting

Your boss calls for a meeting to brief everyone about the new project and assign responsibilities. You need to project the image of a leader to walk away with critical and high impact tasks. Go for a crisp white shirt over a grey or navy blue trouser. Beige or brown trousers with an off-white shirt are also a good option. Team them with a classy brown belt and shoes in the same colour. Stick to neutral colours like off-white, brown, beige and grey.

Review with the boss

This is when you need to have a progress report ready for your boss so he can decide the course of action for the rest of the week. Try cool colours that convey that you are at ease and in control. Formal shirts in blue, turquoise, sea green or light purple are great options. Team up a beige trouser with a purple shirt or try a grey trouser with a spring green formal shirt.

Time out with colleagues

So, it's a Friday and the team has planned a pizza party or small get-together. Try teaming khaki trousers with a plain or striped collared T-shirt. Avoid wearing jeans to work. Instead, wear khakis, chinos, corduroys or other non-denim slacks. Round neck T-shirts are a definite 'No'.

A T-shirt with the company logo is good; a shirt with jazzy tag lines may show snobbishness. A shirt with a competitor's symbol is definitely a 'No' Fridays do not include the option of not shaving, so make sure you are well groomed!

imageShirts: Must haves

. Quality shirts: Shirts take centre stage when you're not wearing a jacket.

. All cotton: Buy cottons that have been treated to resist wrinkles.

. Collar details: The best shirts have removable stays, which hold the collar's points and keep them in place. Never wear a button-down collar with a suit; opt for a spread collar instead.

. Stitching and seams: A high quality shirt has single needle stitching and 22 stitches per inch, and cross-stitched buttons for durability. The design on any patterned shirt should meet perfectly at the seams.

. Standard versus fitted cut: Select a cut to accommodate your build. Dress shirts come in either a fitted cut or standard cut, which is looser.

. You can have a size 16 neck and a 30" waist or a 40" waist. Obviously, most commercially available shirts are cut to accommodate both, which means that those on the smaller end can find themselves blowing out to parachute proportions. So, take a little time to find a shirt that fits as closely as possible.

Dressy trousers

. Avoid cheap polyester varieties. Polyester's main claim to fame is carpets. Go for cotton or wools in winter.

. Almost all pants, aside from jeans, require ironing. Turn the pants inside out. Hang warm pants immediately to avoid wrinkling. Fold them through a suit hanger to avoid crushing them in a pant hanger.

. Avoid spot-cleaning pants just before ironing. Any wet spots may become permanent stains if ironed.

Formal jackets

. Get your formal jackets hand-stitched and fully canvassed, not 'fused' (i.e. glued) or semi-canvassed. This is basic, and makes a world of difference.

. If you want to wear a jacket every day, don't go for Super 200's -- ie a finer fabric -- because you'll wear it out in no time. For everyday wear, go for something under Super 100's -- the suit should hold up much better. Mention this to your retailer, who will guide you accordingly.

. Get a jacket with high armholes that fits your shoulders and you will get that 'waisted' look. Navy or midnights blue are good standby jacket colours. If you opt for a black suit, keep your contrast colour a bit more sombre -- scarlet, grey or blue.

Stylish leather shoes

. Buy only quality leather shoes, as they will last long. Shoes from brands like Red Tape and Bata will not cost you more than Rs 1,500 and are a worthwhile investment.

. Want to keep your shoes looking as good as new? Learn how to shine them like a pro. Clean dust and dirt from the surface with a shoeshine brush or damp cloth. Use a shoe polish brush to apply a conservative amount of polish to the surface of the leather, and brush in circular motions until it has a dull coating. Get into tight spots using an old toothbrush. Wait 15 minutes while the polish dries. Get a gleaming shine with a clean cotton cloth, such as a pair of old socks or T-shirt.

Remember -- looking successful is just as important as being successful.

-- The writer is a consultant corporate trainer.

Do you have any tips on how to look like a million bucks? Share them with others.

Images: Elite Group

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