Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dress like a boss - Hemlines

My mother is a Boss. With a capital B.

She has the type of disarming charm and elegance that make people immediately drawn to her. In a time and industry where men jealously guard their pants, my mother sweeps in, gives orders, fixes situations and pays the bills; all in her beautiful, impeccably tied saree and glossed lips. 

One of the best pieces of advice Mum has given me over the years:

If you dress like a boss, people will treat you like the boss. If you want to be treated like a secretary, then go ahead. Wear that skirt you’re holding.

Over the years that I have been in the corporate world, as a staff and as one half of what my parents call “succession planning”, I have come to realize and painfully admit, that once again, my mother gets to shake her head and laugh at my unsuccessful resistance of her ideas.

Anyone who has had the pleasure/misfortune to shop with me will tell you that I am obsessed with what hemlines works for what occasion. And that I am a firm believer of the concept of the Boss Hemline.

Current and Future Bosses have a rule. Nothing too high above the knee.
Whatever walk of life you're in, you're initially judged on appearance. A short hemline says a lot about you. Socialization is such that we generally tend to associate short hemlines with being young or being scandalous. Thus, your choice of outfit, in an initial first impression setting, is a reflection of your work attitude. A playful or even scandalous hemline is going distract everyone from the real reason you’re there.
Let’s do a simple test:

Who would you rather trust your money with? Simple :)
Honestly speaking, I am expecting some backlash from this post. In this time and age of "freedom", here I am talking openly about how everyone does in fact judge you by what you wear. Most so if you are a lady. And I (/that annoying voice that sounds uncannily like my mother) am telling you to cover up. 
Ladies have spent a good part of our existence trying to shatter the glass ceiling that men have consciously or sub-consciously, simultaneously been trying to reinforce. Silly that we are still fighting this battle. We are just as good as men. In fact even better. We shower and we multi-task. 
Should have wore pants sweety ;)
But to me it boils down to two distinctive things. 
1. Culture & 2. Presentation
General belief is that the more open a culture you have been socialized in, the more comfortable you are with the presence of skin. Currently, in my Malaysian Muslim dominated environment, it makes no sense to me to wear a short skirt to a business meeting. It only makes the male decision makers incredibly judgmental and uncomfortable. And based on experience, men do not function well under pressure. ;)
Now please understand that I am not saying you have to dress like a man to get work done. All I am saying is: Bosses dress to impress. But that only lasts for the first few seconds. The only way to make a great lasting impression is to show them your greatest asset. 
Your brain. Jeez, get your mind out of the gutter!
So next time, Try this simple trick:
Put your index fingers and thumbs together to form a circle. Place your fingers on your knee cap. Any hemline that is below, inside or just touching your fingers is a Boss Hem. Anything that is much longer may look dowdy depending on the cut and style, and too high is too short. 
Go on then. Time to be a Boss. 

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