To Bare Or Not To Bare

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With the mercury hitting new highs, it’s not easy staying cool at work while looking good. PlusPoint takes a look at the fashion dos and the fashion don’ts of dressing professionally for the tropics.

It’s a feeling we all know well: the feeling of stepping out of your house, on your way to work in your freshly pressed, carefully chosen outfit — and feeling sweat breaking out all over your body. There, the look you worked so hard to achieve is officially ruined.

With situations like these, it’s hard not to look to comfort as the most important factor when dressing for work. Yet, dressing down could also have a negative impact on our professional reputation.

So what should you do? What exactly is appropriate work wear in this sweltering heat?

HR experts say that the first thing you should do is check your employee handbook to see if there is an official dress code. After all, every workplace — depending on the industry — has different expectations about what goes and what doesn’t. A creative professional, for example, might be able to get away wearing jeans or even something bordering on eccentric as it would be seen as an expression of their creativity and professional identity. Someone working in the finance industry, on the other hand, would probably not be given this leeway.

A company dress code could also differ depending on your position within the company. For example, a person working on the front line and who has to interact with customers or clients would probably have to dress differently from a colleague in a supporting role.

In the absence of any clear cut guidelines, HR experts say that there are some general rules that everyone working in an office should follow.

Pair a sleek skirt with a chic peplum top for an outfit that will take you from office to after-office drinks!
Pair a sleek skirt with a chic peplum top for an outfit that will take you from office to after-office drinks!

For a start, it is important that you look professional no matter what the weather. You might have to meet a client or run into senior management at any moment and it would reflect badly on yourself and your organisation if you are dressed inappropriately. It could even affect your chances for a promotion because someone in a position of power might dismiss you right away. As HR experts advise: always dress for the job you want — and a business friendly outfit will bring you further than a halter neck top.

Common mistakes women make in trying to beat the heat include wearing too short and flirty summer dresses, tops which reveal too much skin and/or stray bra straps, and overly sheer fabrics.

Men are guilty, too. While most companies here in Singapore don’t require their male employees to don a suit and tie, many men still dress too casually for their employers’ liking. The biggest two fashion faux pas that men make, according to some HR professionals quizzed, are wearing tee shirts to work and leaving their shirts untucked (especially after lunch!) Another common sight are men who opt for dry wick sports attire, which while cooling, are definitely a no-go for the workplace.

Ultimately, what you should wear varies from situation to situation and from company to company — but it’s always better to be over dressed than under. And if you are feeling doubtful about a particular piece of clothing, then, chances are it should probably be left at home!

Here’s an outfit that can work both on dress-down Fridays and on chic weekends!
Here’s an outfit that can work both on dress-down Fridays and on chic weekends!

Summer Fashion Hacks
Brave the heat at work without breaking a sweat.

  1. Fashion does not have to be complicated — an unlined blazer in a classic cut will transform any tank top or summer dress into business chic.
  2. And who said t-shirts can’t be office-appropriate? Tuck a crisp white tee into a high-waisted mid-length skirt for a quick and breezy office fix.
  3. It might be tempting — but leave the flip flops and strappy beach sandals at home. Instead, opt for some chunky slingbacks, block heels or classic mules.
  4. A shift dress may very well be your best friend this summer with its perfectly chic, boxy silhouette. Just remember to find a size that skims the outlines of your body to keep things looking on-point.
  5. Pull on some capris or culottes instead of form-fitting, full-length pants and dress them up with a shirt top, bold statement jewellery and heels.
  6. Last but not least, a simple but elegant tailored shirt dress is a closet essential when working in the tropics.
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