31 Mar 2016 19:15 IST

The ACE of dressing

Here’s what to keep in mind when you decide what to wear for different occasions

‘What shall I wear today? — this is a question that each of us should give serious consideration to, whether we’re setting off for a regular day at office, or catching a flight, or simply going for an evening stroll in the park.

Personal experience

A smart young lady, a professional for sure, was at the airport along with me the other day. I watched her with admiration. She was nimble footed and carried a stylish tan bag; had impeccable manners — used ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ often, allowed others to pass ahead of her thoughtfully; and wheeled her stroller lightly on the aircraft ramp as she boarded the same flight as I did.

When I reached my seat, she was on my row, and greeted me with a smile, which I returned with pleasure. But as I sat down, I saw with shock that her trousers were torn at both knees!

In contrast, I was in a traditional silk sari. Which one of us was out of place in a professional set-up? What is the dress code for working professionals in India?

There is no one right answer, I suppose, as Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers, all work alongside each other to take India on a blazing trail to success in the 21{+s}{+t} century. However, I rely on one magic formula when I choose the ‘look’ I wish to sport on each occasion. I call it ‘ACE for Dress Success’, and it has proved successful for me.

A — Appreciation: Anyone who sees our ‘look’ should be able to appreciate what we stand for. Nothing we wear should give out conflicting impressions to what that reality is. Attention to detail in neatness and cleanliness has to exude from every pore. There is no ‘off day’ for this — Sunday travel doesn’t mean you can skip a bath, deodorant or the type of clothing we usually wear, as we, in India, are now the cynosure of the world’s eyes at all times.

When we dress, especially for a professional agenda (as I’m sure the young lady on my flight was doing), it would help to ask ourselves the question — if there remains only one vacancy for a business conference, will the first impression the gatekeeper forms of me, give me an advantage over other aspirants, or put me at a disadvantage? Would the gatekeeper tend to give preference to a lady dressed in a sari/neatly-pressed trouser-suit, or to someone dressed in a distressed outfit?

C — Comfort: Too tight or too bright outfits make us self-conscious and therefore, uncomfortable. Wearing simple, solid colours that suit us and let our skin breathe makes for a better mood, induced by dress sense, so let’s not take this lightly.

Footwear, belts, accessories we carry need to be neat and utilitarian, without being a distracting factor for either us or others. Nothing can be grabbed by chance anymore; we need to thoughtfully pick every accessory.

E — Expression: Our clothing and accessories are a reflection of our personality. Let us be conscious of what we are expressing all the time via our dress. Choose colours that make for calmness and friendly professionalism. For instance, I recently bumped into Dr PC Reddy, the founder of Apollo Hospitals, one of India’s top entrepreneurs. His dark suit was accentuated by a tie that was a friendly design in warm orange. It indeed augmented his positive personality.

So, irrespective of whether we are 80 or 20, if we are professionals working for India, we need to have a sense of ACE.