Challenge Pull Out May - June 2010

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Place tie around neck with wide end on your left, narrow on the right. Wide end should be 30cm lower.

Cross wide end over and behind narrow end.

Bring wide end up, then through the loop, to the right.

Cross the wide end in front of the narrow end, from your right to left.

Tuck the wide end behind the knot and up through the loop.

Challenge Magazine May / June 2010

Fashion Bible pages of tips to get you ahead

17 – 24

Need a little nudge to set you apart from your colleagues? Dressing well could give you a polished edge over workplace competition. While you stay focused on the job, this handy pull-out can give you a vital push in the right direction. The Fashion Bible has the inside track on what irks employers and how to leave a good first impression. Learn how to pick a great dress shirt, and avoid the most common fashion blunders at the office. If you are itching for a style reboot, get inspired by our list of definitive fashion movies and pick up a few new tricks. It’s easier than you think.

A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME Keep up with the latest from local fashionistas on Twitter! @qinatthedisco by fashion blogger Yiqin @wearewottoncool by Sarah Swee and Josie Lau @cherrymagazine by freelance stylist and blogger Nicole Then

Pull the wide end down through the knot and carefully adjust the tie by gently drawing the knot towards your collar.

@bagaholicboy by the famously anonymous bag aficionado

MONSTER POLL 2007 Conducted by the largest online job site in the world, among 18,000 respondents from the US.

55% Tank tops and exposed undergarments are a top office faux pas


shorts were the most off-putting


most bothered by Hawaiian prints

CAREER THINK POLL 2004 A dress code poll conducted by the Rockhurst University Continued Education Center in the US. dressing up has no effect on productivity


dressing up makes you more productive



dressing up makes you less productive

QUICK TIP Linen and cotton – both ideal materials for our weather – wrinkle easily, so be sure to get them pressed or ironed. Reduce ironing time by placing aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. The foil will reflect heat so you’re actually ironing from both sides at once.


Justify buying clothes that are a little too tight by telling yourself that you’re going to lose weight.

Underdress for interviews, first days, presentations and other important events. It is always better to overdress. Take fashion cues from senior staff whom you respect.

Overdo the jewellery, and stick to a simple watch.

Spend that extra $10 on getting something tailored – a loose fit is not a good look.

Follow the season’s ‘in’ colours for the sake of being current – stick to things you know you look good in.

Pay meticulous attention to your moustache or goatee if you’re a man who likes a little hair.

Wear a tie if you’re unsure of the dress code for a work event; you can always take it off if the function ends up being more casual.

Cycle to work

You have to look at yourself objectively. Analyse yourself like an instrument. You have to be absolutely frank with yourself. Face your handicaps; don’t try to hide them. Instead, develop something else. – Audrey Hepburn

TRIVIA In 2005, the Japanese government issued an order that government offices should turn u p their airconditioner temperatures to encourage staff to ‘take off their ties, unbutton their shirts and cast off their jackets [instead of cranking up the air-con]’. The initiative was planned for environmental reasons as well as trying to ‘loosen up’ the conservative Japanese business image in summer. On the local front, real estate company CapitaLand has announced plans to start a ‘Wearless Day’ – to save energy at work by cranking up the office temperature by one degree, thereby allowing staff to ‘dress down’.


If you’re planning on changing before work, roll your clothes into bundles – it helps prevent creasing.


Keep a spare T-shirt at the office if you don’t want to wear the sweaty one on the way home.


To avoid getting a sweaty back from a rucksack, invest in racks and light bicycle panniers.



T-shirts belong on plastic hangers. Wire hangers are never ideal, but can be used to store casual clothes.

The Devil Wears PRADA

An obvious choice, but we daren’t leave it off the list.

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Iconic Fashion Movies

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If you have access to storage and shower facilities, consider keeping work clothes at the office.


Even though we got the snipped version, it was still a romp.

“An era needs to be ten years old to officially make it ‘ vintage’.”

For short commutes, place a small towel between your skin and shirt so you don’t get sweaty.


Always bring a raincoat.



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Some women only dream of Carrie’s wardrobe, some men dream of Mr. Big’s suits.

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#2 #3 #4 #5

Sex and the City


– Linda Hewson, creative head at Selfridges to the Financial Times, February 28, 2010


Coco Before Chanel

200 9

NEVER hang men’s jackets on the back of a chair.


Moulin Rouge

20 01

Knits, delicates and vintage clothing should always be hung on padded hangers.

Some 78% of women in an online survey believe workplace appearance is a crucial factor in professional growth and ‘dressing smartly…can be seen as the essential ace up the sleeve’. However, author Debra Benton (How to think like a CEO) also found that competitive female colleagues “relished each other’s wardrobe faux pas, and wouldn’t do the sisterly thing and tell them the truth”.

French for ‘ready to wear’, this classic fashion film has a record number of celebrity cameos.


Pants should be kept on spring-loaded hangers that grip the material so the pants hang down – according to Esquire magazine, it allows creases and side hems to strengthen via gravity.

It’s almost a decade old, but remains one of the best Ben Stiller flicks of all time.


Suits, blazers and other formal attire should always be kept on contoured wooden hangers. Bamboo is a good choice: light and strong.

According to British newspaper the Daily Mail, women in managerial positions are judged far more harshly than senior and junior staff for poor fashion choices – think revealing clothes, excessively high heels and inappropriate makeup – and are seen as less competent or intelligent by peers of both sexes. Given that women have a wider range of clothes to choose from, the potential for mishaps is far greater than the average man’s shirt and pants dilemma.

Lust, Caution

Newcomer Tang Lee was dressed to kill in this steamy thriller.



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The origins of the genius behind masculine-influenced tailoring laid bare.

Won an Oscar for best costume design, thanks to director Baz Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin.

Cycling to the MRT is a good compromise. Just buy an ultrasecure bicycle lock.

Have a safe ride


Slouchy, baggy or ‘boyfriend’ shirts are best left for weekends – stick to fitted shirts for the office. Stick to two-ply shirts, which are of higher quality. It pays off in the long run.

Well-endowed ladies should stay away from ruffles and pleats on the front of the shirt.

Vertical darts or other embellishments under the bust area help to add structure to a white shirt.

Sleeveless white or cream shirts are acceptable, especially when paired with a cardigan.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with accessories even though all that clean white is tempting – take a minimal approach.

Like the men’s dress shirt, women’s shirts can be tailored, so don’t hesitate to spend a little more to ensure a perfect fit.

Street St yle

Best of the office


Expert Tips “A couple of no-nos for me for Singapore. Women need to stop wearing those clippety-clippety kitten heel things. The ones that sound like they’ve got really, really plastic heels… and I’ve seen a lot of mobile phones on belts. Women and men! Wearing it on their belts! And Blackberry holders round their necks!”

Gok Wan

British stylist and television personality in Today

“Office wear need not be staid. Inject some personality into your work wear through vibrant prints or statement accessories, carefully paired with a muted suit or minimalist shift. While the age of itbags are long over, a smart brogue or polished patent pump speaks of character and sartorially elevates off-the-rack corporate wear.”

Alli Sim

Stylist and beauty editor at Harper’s Bazaar




Wearing stockings with open-toed shoes are an absolute no-no. Matching a patterned shirt with a clashing tie. Stick to monochromes if you want to mix and match patterns. ‘Personal statement’ ties (parrots, sports iconography, cartoon characters… you get the idea). Scuffed shoes are never okay for a professional staff, even if you’ve been working there for years. Exposed underwear. Ladies: invest in a few good slips of different lengths and avoid calling attention to your bra-straps. Men: wear a belt.

The world’s most expensive suit is made of a mix of vicuña wool – the most expensive in the world as the llama-like vicuña can only be shorn every three years – and another luxury wool called qiviuit. The suit is also threaded with 18-karat gold and has pave diamond buttons. The price? More than S$100,000. In contrast, the world’s cheapest suit was launched in 2007 by British supermarket chain ASDA, going for a paltry £19 (about S$40).

Choosing not to wear socks with your shoes is not an option. Short-sleeved shirts and ties should never be worn together.



The most common problems experienced by men are too-tight collars and too-short sleeves.

If wearing a blazer or jacket, no more than a half an inch of your shirt cuff should show.

A good rule of thumb for pockets: a shirt with two chest pockets is widely agreed to be casual. Shirts with a button-down collar should have one chest pocket.

If you are adventurous and want to wear a vest or suspenders, pick a shirt with no pockets.

‘Button-down’ does No store-bought not refer to the shirt will ever fit buttons running perfectly – you will down the front of often end up getting your shirt ill-fitting cuffs with – they refer to the the perfect collar. buttons on the edge So buy a larger size, of your collar. then get a tailor to fit it properly.

AM – PM We know you don’t have time to rush home and primp before an office (or personal) function. A few tips on how to look despite a tight schedule: A work function is still an office function, so don’t use this as an occasion to wear a revealing outfit to show your ‘fun side’.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Dr Michael Benoliel, Professor of Negotiation at SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business, sounds off on the importance of image.

On the first 15 seconds

“I’m Jewish and in our tradition we have an expression – maybe in other cultures too – that clothes make the person. Therefore it’s extremely important to pay attention to one’s clothing because that’s what really makes the person, especially in the first 15 seconds, which are the critical moments that people form impressions of others.”

Men : Try using a different cologne after-hours.

women: The simplest way to make

a smooth work-to-play transition is the classic little black dress – try one with a satiny finish. Wear a cardigan or blazer to cover up at work, and take it off when it is time to leave. Accessorise accordingly – keep it simple during office hours, but bring a statement necklace or bracelets (something you normally wouldn’t wear to work) for the party later.

Topman S$289 ALLI SIM’s TIP Go from AM to PM with a smart jacket. It is a big call in our humid climes, but opting for a well-fitted, smart cut jacket is a style investment essential for any workday wardrobe. From corporate luncheons to afterwork cocktails, it adds instant polish to any business shirt and pant combination. Boardroom make-up is all about sophisticated nudes. Think muted make-up shades of taupe, mushroom and browns by day, and add a bright lip to the mix after 6pm.

On Singapore heat

“Because Singapore is a hot country, the dress code is more relaxed than in a more formal place like New York. Weather really shapes how people dress here. There isn’t much of an expectation that people will dress up and have jackets and ties here than in certain organisations in New York. So it’s more relaxed in that sense. But people are still mindful of how to dress, and for many events they always specify dress code which is helpful.”

FASHION BLOGS TO FOLLOW Homegrown fashion blog by writers Dottie Tan and Stephie Tan who also produced an online flipbook, Manifesto. Guess S$175

On formal dress codes at work

“You don’t want to be too restrictive, but overall not too lax, because the organisation as a whole – not just the individual – sends messages. So, for example, in certain organisations, people are sensitive enough to get the message so you don’t need the policy to be that tough. The principle should be to let people figure it out. Usually, they do.”

QUICK TIP To remove wrinkles from a tie, cut some cardboard to fit the inside of the tie, cover the tie with a light cotton cloth and press lightly with a steam iron.

Local designer Keith Png of the concept shop Hide & Seek; when he isn’t rubbing shoulders with regional celebrities, he blogs about international fashion trends and his own creative endeavours. TRIVIA

He made the dhoti world famous Political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi was once asked how he could meet King George V of England clad only in his dhoti, a length of cloth draped over his loins. Gandhi simply replied, “Why not? The King wears enough clothes for the two of us.”

This US-based site combines clothes from different online stores to create detailed visual spreads that provide plenty of inspiration for a new look – search through themed sets in the ‘Explore’ category. American style blog for self-described ‘overachieving chicks’ and other corporate jobbers. Guys, rejoice! Here’s a blog aimed primarily at style-conscious men. Stay up-to-date with the hottest trends, or flip through one of their themed lookbooks for day-to-day inspiration. One of the best-known street style photoblogs by New Yorker Scott Schuman.

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Pick a bag with sturdy straps to make sure you don’t have any tragic ‘accidents’. A classy document bag is an investment. Avoid bags made of straw or canvas, neither of which belong in the office.


Get a bag with built-in padding for your laptop – if not, always keep electronics in their own padded sleeves.


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TECH TREATS iphone fashion apps T RI VIA

ShopStyle Mobile


A free app by that gives you a peek at what’s happening on the runway, wherever you are.

A free app that puts all the most fashionable online and international stores and brands at your fingertips.

Compiles the latest photo updates from six top fashion blogs, including popular street-style community LookBook. Free version available.

“An article in a Singapore newspaper goes into considerable detail as to what’s appropriate casual wear in that country. On the subject of men’s socks alone, it offers three directives: “Wear them; wear them in any color but white; never wear blue socks with brown shoes – Americans and Britons detest this colour combination, so you may offend your clients from these countries,” – Excerpt from a 2000 C|NET article on casual dressing. Read it at


LOOK FRESH If you know you will be working late, make the effort for lunch. It may seem a little indulgent at the time, but you won’t regret it when you are still at your desk six hours later.

Cold teabags stored in a container in the communal fridge are a saviour for computer-fried eyes. Nip into the staff lounge (or the bathroom) for five minutes; sit back, relax and place the bags on your eyelids. Ah…

Alli Sim’s tip: Perk up tired complexions with clever highlighting along the tops of cheekbones and inner eye.

Always keep a basic set of toiletries in the office bathroom or even in your desk drawer. Not your whole toilette set – consider face wash, moisturiser and a toothbrush.

Stretching, walking around and taking breaks from staring at a screen have a remarkable effect on your physical ‘vibe’ and appearance.


According to a US 2008 survey Source:



41% of respondents said people who dress professionally tend to be promoted more often in their organisation.

of companies have sent employees home for inappropriate work attire.

55% of respondents in the financial sector believed that well-dressed staff is more likely to be promoted than others, compared with 33% and 37% in the manufacturing and IT sectors, respectively.