Whether it’s an interview, your first day at work, a dinner date with that girl you finally asked out, or a night out at the club, you’ll want to dress to impress. You have already pieced together your most dapper outfit in your mind, including that classic analog watch (who wears watches nowadays when we’ve got mobile phones?) and mirror-shined leather oxfords. But a vague uneasiness surfaces: “Will I be Overdressed?”
Overdressing makes one feel awkward. We often feel everyone else’s derisive gaze, mocking our ignorance of unspoken social rules, scorning our exceptional lack of telepathy with everyone else who has turned up in decidedly more ‘normal’ outfits.
‘Under-confident’, Not Overdressed
Firstly, lets get down to the reason you fear being overdressed. Dressing is like a peacock showing its tail feathers: you are flaunting yourself, in physical appearance, abilities, and otherwise. In other words, being the best dressed is a silent claim to being the most able in the room; the alpha male.
Your worry about ‘being overdressed’ is actually the fear of not being able to live up to your subtle claim to the throne. You are worried that your abilities do not match up to the social signals you are sending and people might judge you for it. Your insecurities about being judged for your lack of knowledge in social etiquette stems from a lack of self-confidence (and perhaps true inexperience in social settings).
Hence, it isn’t that your attire needs a downgrade, but that your abilities and self-confidence needs a major upgrade to fill that debonair french-cuffed shirt of yours! Get into great shape with a workout regimen, pick up a new language, initiate a community project – do something that you can be proud of, and that is befitting of a great outfit! Don’t shy away from the alpha male role, work for it and embrace it!
I frequently receive clients’ emails asking if a pair of cufflinks will mesh well with their office setting. For most cases, I’ll usually reply that it will, but it is their personality fit they need to be concerned about – are they the type who is willing to work harder to differentiate themselves from the rest?
Being Slightly Overdressed Can Be Impressive
Being appropriately dressed speaks volumes about a person: It tells us about his depth of social experience, emotional maturity, the respect he accords the occasion and the people present, and whether he pays attention to fine detail. It is no wonder that a survey of employers revealed that they were 31% more likely to hire a well-dressed employee than his poorly dressed counterparts.
It is better to be slightly overdressed than slightly underdressed.
This is the golden rule to remember when dressing for any occasion. Nobody will really notice nor fault you for appearing at work with a waistcoat when everyone else is in just simple shirts and pants, but you’ll definitely stick out like a sore thumb for wearing a T-shirt and jeans. As above, wearing a waistcoat may even help you be subconsciously perceived as more serious and diligent about your work – a definite plus!
Two Kinds Of Overdressed
There is being good overdressed, and there is being bad overdressed.
Some men like really loud pieces of clothing – the more significant the occasion, the louder they dress. This is BAD overdressed. Think: men with brightly coloured hair, thick gold chains and earrings, floral shirts, pink shoes, and on the really special occasions, even a garish yellow blazer. These men are overdressed for everything but the circus, you DO NOT want to dress like that.
Good overdressed refers to when you dress according to something higher up along the formality scale than required, such as wearing black tie optional attire for a semi-formal event.
Being a level overdressed has helped this young man stand out in a great way among his casually dressed peers. Don’t you think he looks like he has more game? Which guy do you think the ladies will go for?
How To Avoid Being Overdressed
- Find out the formality of the occasion
- Refer to this list on how to dress according to formality
Finding Out The Event’s Formality
For more formal events like weddings, the dress code is usually stated. If it isn’t, all you have to do is ask – the hosts/organizers will definitely appreciate it if you show up appropriately dressed.
What if there is no official dress code? Then you’ll have to do some research of your own. If it is an office, you can observe what other employees wear and do it better while staying within the unspoken formality code. A popular opinion is to dress as who you’d like to be, so do not be afraid of dressing better if you have higher aspirations!
If it is an interview, you may speak to acquaintances who have been through it to see what they and others wore. Otherwise, invoke the Golden Rule again and show up overdressed, then taper your attire down according to what you see. It is easier to decrease the formality of a more formal attire (by removing a necktie, for example) than increase the formality of an informal attire.
In Singapore’s Nightclubs
Clubbing has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment, largely, but not exclusively, for the younger generation. Busy young executives shed their corporate attire to revel in the hustle and bustle of the nightlife.
You’ll want to make sure that your appearance oozes pure class, but not like you’re trying too hard. You don’t need to look like David Beckham’s doppelganger, but your hair needs to be well-styled, nails have to be short and clean, and clothes should be pressed. The dress code is generally somewhere between business casual and casual
You should wear a fitting dress shirt that flatter the taper of your body—not so tight that it is stretched at the buttons, but definitely not too loose either. Accessorize by wearing a stylish watch with an oversized face or a pair of flashy novelty cufflinks!
At the same time, it has to be comfortable as you’ll be on your feet all night! Make sure the shoes you choose are well padded and supported, and your shirt allows for a lot of physical movement. I find that slipping some orthopaedic insoles into my dress shoes help me achieve both comfort and style.