Last Call

There’s more to clothes in the sci­ence of first im­pres­sions

The Australian - The Deal - - First Up -

There is more to the way you look and dress in the sci­ence of first im­pres­sions

THE Ital­ian and French can al­ways tell you’re not one of them by the way you dress. Equally we can al­ways spot a Ger­man (shorts, black socks and san­dals), a Rus­sian (mi­cro biki­nis and high heels – and that’s just the men) and an Amer­i­can (run­ners, fanny packs and base­ball caps). Even the de rigueur dress style worn by dig­i­tal na­tives is a uni­form. To the un­trained eye it looks like ev­ery­one is us­ing the same mix of T-shirts, jeans and run­ners, how­ever, Queena Kim, from Amer­i­can Pub­lic Me­dia’s Mar­ket­place pro­gram, took to the Sil­i­con Val­ley streets with an ex­pert to de­con­struct the val­ley’s dress code. Like coun­tries and work­places, Sil­i­con Val­ley is full of tribes – en­gi­neers, de­sign­ers, prod­uct man­agers, sales­peo­ple, en­trepreneurs and VCs (ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists). Each tribe has its uni­form. For in­stance, a hoodie sig­nals young tal­ent, a zip­pered V-neck sweater a VC and T-shirt but no jeans and ba­sic sneak­ers, an en­gi­neer.

Pamela Gol­bin, chief cu­ra­tor of the Musée de la Mode et du Tex­tile says, “The art of dress­ing ev­ery morn­ing be­comes, whether con­sciously or not, a dec­la­ra­tion of stance, aes­thet­ics, con­sump­tion, be­liefs and class, iden­ti­fy­ing us a mem­ber of a par­tic­u­lar tribe.”

Com­pa­nies have tribes. The big­ger the company the more the dress sig­nals how close to the chief you are. For­get power dress­ing. Peo­ple at the bot­tom can tell who you are not just by your clothes, but what by sort of car you drive, whether you have a park­ing spot, how close you park to the ex­ec­u­tive-only lift, the size of your of­fice and, more im­por­tantly, how close to it is to the chief.

The con­cept of power dress­ing came from John Mol­loy’s 1975 best­seller Dress For Suc­cess. In his up­dated books on men and women dress­ing for suc­cess he comes to the same ba­sic, de­press­ing, con­clu­sions. As one re­viewer wrote: “women (and men) fare bet­ter in con­ser­va­tive com­pa­nies with no ca­sual dress. They must dress in con­ser­va­tive men’s colours in nat­u­ral fi­bres, pri­mar­ily wool, and must have a very up­per mid­dle class look.”

Smart com­pa­nies try to say “we want our em­ploy­ees to bring their whole selves to work with them”. Around town the war cry is to do with in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity. Just to prove it com­pa­nies let you dress down once a week. As Syd­ney pro­fes­sor Stan Glaser says of ca­sual Fri­days: “They’re giv­ing them the guise of in­di­vid­u­al­ity when it’s just another form of reg­u­la­tion. They are try­ing to pre­tend it’s a sig­nal of democ­racy but it’s not.”

Things get harder at the top end of town. And it doesn’t mat­ter if that town is London, New York, Mel­bourne or Syd­ney. Just like the Ital­ians and French, the real power peo­ple can al­ways tell you’re not one of them by the way you dress. For men it’s sim­ple: dress like Daniel Craig, Cary Grant or Sean Con­nery for your next board pre­sen­ta­tion.

Re­search says that the darker the suit, the more au­thor­i­ta­tive you ap­pear. Only black shoes, never brown. White or light blue shirts and plain ties. Avoid­ing hula dancers on at least the front of the tie will help. Black socks are good. Happy socks are bad. Hair on the head is good. Hair on the face is bad. Pin­stripes are good for men and women. Ac­ces­sories, par­tic­u­larly in Asia, say a lot. Kmart sells re­ally good watches for $20 but Omega and Rolex are bet­ter. You can buy a pre-worn Omega Speed­mas­ter or Rolex Oys­ter Per­pet­ual for less than $5000. For women, a rarely used Cartier Tank is about $3500 or, to make a very sub­tle state­ment, a vin­tage a Jaeger LeCoul­tre Rev­erso is about $10,000. You can buy new gold knot cuff links from Brooks Brothers ($95) or if you’re a bit

“...Chris and Mark model our new-sea­son hood­ies in grey and, er, dark grey...”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.