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"Dressing for success" tips need a dressing down "Dressing for success" tips need a dressing down
by John Harvey
2014-08-10 11:19:08
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"What your clothes say about you" has become one of those "useful" calls-to-arms drummed into business cultures the world over, but if we are really honest about it, what does this say about the corporate world in general?

That as long as you look good, your qualifications and output are of lesser import? That a foot in the door is only as good as the shoe in which it is clad? If this is indeed the case, it is deeply concerning that every day billions of dollars are being left to Armani or Marc Jacobs' devices - and their disciples.

A recent article in Business Insider tells the story of Jon-Michail, a former Christian Dior designer who has become the CEO of Australian-based image consultancy Image Group International (IGI).

Sagely, he tells the publication: “All dress is associated with sex, money and power, but rarely all three at once, so you must decide which one applies. Dressing is a formula and you are the product so getting it right is important."

fashion_400Jon-Michail then goes on to list a number of tips for "dressing for success", the first and presumably most important of which is, "Don't buy cheap. Aim for the highest quality outfit you can afford plus add 10%.”

Given his former incarnation as a darling of the runway elite, one must surmise that affordability is relative only to the cuts of suit developed within Milan, Paris or New York fashion houses.

For the first-time job applicant, it is somewhat unlikely that they will be able to dazzle their potential employer with the "genius" of Georgio upon first meeting. Filling up with enough gas to make the two-and-half hour journey to the interview would probably be seen as a small victory, if truth be told.

Which inevitably brings us to the question of what exactly is meant by success in this context, if the measurement thereof is tailored by the fashion and corporate image industry?

Tansy E Hoskins, activist and author of the book Stitched-Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, is at pains to describe as liberally as possible how the fashion industry exploits sweatshop workers in Third World countries, only to rake in millions to furnish its chief proponents' lavish lifestyles.

"The glossy idea of 'fashion' hides the labour of millions of exploited labourers. It hides the terrible environmental impact of fashion, and the sexism, racism and alienation enshrined in the industry.

"It hides too the cultural lock-down that we find ourselves in, the dictation of our common cultural heritage by a handful of white male European shareholders."

Hoskins is clearly a firebrand seeking to stir up the emotions of industry doyens, but she does raise good points in respect of the kind of people who are pulling the strings of how workers should be perceived within the context of social pecking order.

I would, however, take her arguments one step further; that we have reached that point where even the university graduate is at the mercy of these purveyors of textile matter over mind.

That large Australian business concerns like Qantas, BHP, Fosters, ANZ, NAB and Rio Tinto have signed up for the IGI makeover suggests to what extent even members of the most established corporations are succumbing to the pressures of image uber alles, a development that does not auger well for first-time job seekers.

Inevitably reputed publications that serve and service both the interests of the business and fashion industries hammer home the message of dressing for success wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

Budding, 21-year-old entrepreneurs, bright eyed and ruthlessly tailed, will of course follow suit, so to speak, as while they may possess an innate ability to work the stock markets, their youthful age immediately makes them prone to the wiles of trend. That is simply human nature.

Brett Easton Ellis penned a book called American Psycho that sums it up quite nicely, as it so happens.

Of course there will be those to counter the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have hardly set the world alight with their choice of wardrobe, yet are idols in the new world order. Yet both have also had the nous to play the fashion game - by deliberately not becoming part of it.

Counter-revolutionary has always been as cool. What has to be born in mind though is that it is only the exceptional individual who becomes the exception to the rule.

The reality is the everyday job applicant is liable to face the shallow values of today's corporate culture.

It cannot be ignored that Louis Bernard Arnault and family (Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy) placed 10th on the 2013 Forbes magazine Rich List. Such is the fashionable hold on wealth. 

 


    
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