Dressing Up For The Right Occasion

Sep 11, 2015 1 Min Read
Ladies, take note!

You may have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the problem is that people do. Our outward appearance is the basis for everything we do. It is a simple but unfortunate fact.

You want to make an outstanding first impression, because you can never go back and do it again. Therefore, do it right the first time.

First, always consider where you are going. Do you have a job interview with a bank? Dress as a banker dresses.

What about an interview with your boss about a possible promotion? Dress like you deserve that promotion.

Regardless of how you want to dress up, always make an effort to dress the part when you attend different business functions, and even when attending your colleague’s or boss’s wedding!

Here are some occasions where you will need to look the part.


A cocktail party

A cocktail party is an informal social gathering with mixed drinks and light refreshments served to the guests.

At the party, you are encouraged to mingle while enjoying a variety of drinks. Therefore, you should wear a semi-formal dress that is comfortable to wear.

You can’t go wrong if you wear a top with special details and a skirt or tailored pants, plus heels or fancy flats. Avoid fabrics that are too casual, like T-shirts and denim.

Every woman should have the famous little black dress, which is usually mid-thigh or knee-length. Long gowns are usually not worn at cocktail parties. Alternatively, you can pair a nice skirt with a beautiful blouse.

Whatever your attire, keep it elegant, but not too formal. Spare the formal dresses for occasions or events that are elaborate.

Accessorise with low-key jewellery. Save the heavy diamond jewellery for a more formal affair like your colleague’s wedding. Instead, wear a delicate necklace with some diamond stud earrings.

Always carry a cute clutch or small handbag. Large totes or shoulder bags will not match well with a short party dress.

Add details to complete the look such as a stylish coat, brooch, or jewelled headband. With these fine details you will have a complete cocktail party look.


A business dinner or a company party

Keep it professional, but appropriate to the event. Remember that when you’re dressing for a work function, the culture of your office should prevail.

If it’s a conservative business environment, dress conservatively for such events. But no matter how relaxed your office environment or the occasion, never wear anything provocative. A revealing outfit can prevent you from being taken seriously when it comes to job promotions.

For business dinners, office wear is appropriate (provided your workplace isn’t overly casual), such as trousers with a refined sweater or a blouse and blazer.

If you’re going to the event straight from the office, try a wrap dress in a dark shade, or wear a suit and bring along an elegant blouse and evening-appropriate shoes.

Or you could simply swap your jewellery for something a little bolder; try a chunky necklace instead of pearls, for example.


A wedding

In the old days, the etiquette was to avoid wearing all white, black or red. Nowadays, these colours are perfectly fine, although you may still want to be cautious about donning an all-white outfit.

If you are close to the bride, ask her what’s right; otherwise, consult the maid of honour or the bride’s mother.

For daytime weddings, a more casual dress would be ideal. You should steer clear of anything heavily beaded or sequined. Instead, opt for a knee-length strapless cotton dress, paired up with open-toed shoes.

If the ceremony is in the afternoon and the reception is in the evening – and the invitation does not specify the dress code – you can take this event as semi-formal, which calls for a cocktail dress or an evening suit in a colour that won’t upstage the bride. Pale pink is still okay, but not hot pink.

A black tie dress code once meant floor-length gowns. These days, at the grandest affairs, dresses as short as knee-length are acceptable, provided they have a semi-formal or formal cut and fabric-wise, are of silk or a silk blend.

As for wearing a strapless or sleeveless dress in a house of worship, some may have strict rules about covering up, so check the protocol beforehand or bring a shawl.


Concluding thoughts

Ask yourself this question: What do you want to achieve by looking your best?

For a start, understanding colours that suit you will be a great help when dressing up.

Let’s start with the basics

The three primary colours are red, blue and yellow.

Primary colour wheel

When you mix them with each other, you get orange, violet and green. These are secondary colours.

Secondary colour wheel

Each secondary colour sits directly opposite a primary colour on the colour wheel. That opposite relationship is called complementary colours.

Complementary colours

When you mix the three secondary colours with the three primary colours, you get six tertiary or intermediate colours, which are lighter variations of the secondary colours.

Intermediate colours

How do you translate these colours to clothes?

Well, you can wear black or white with any hue on the colour wheel, because they are so versatile.


Colour wheel combos

So which colours go together? The primary colours all go together.

Primary colour pairing

Just as they all work with black and white.

Black ensemble


Cynthia Soh is a Leaderonomics faculty trainer who specialises in corporate grooming and image enhancement. To learn more about corporate grooming, email us at training@leaderonomics.com. For more Image Matters articles, click here.

Share This



This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

You May Also Like

man looking tired with low energy/battery

Tired Mind, Fresh Ideas: Generating Ideas When Energy is Missing

By Michelle Gibbing. Struggling with fatigue and creative block? Dive into strategies to reignite your inspiration. Explore how motivation works and why intrinsic drive outlasts external incentives. Get ready to recharge your creativity and overcome mental roadblocks.

Apr 02, 2024 5 Min Read

Close up of a man's face looking focused (Grit)

Identifying and Building Grit in Oneself

Ang Hui Ming, Co-founder of Leaderonomics talks about what grit is, how to identify it, and how to build it too.

Jan 05, 2021 23 Min Podcast


Unlock Wellness with the Wim Hof Method: Boost Immunity & Well-being | Roshan Thiran's Wellness Wednesday

Discover the transformative Wim Hof method with Roshan Thiran in this Wellness Wednesday episode. Learn how cold exposure and breathwork can strengthen your immune system, enhance well-being, and create a mindset for health. Dive into the science and personal experiences that reveal the power of creating your own wellness journey.

Nov 03, 2023 30 Min Video

Be a Leader's Digest Reader