WHEN I WAS shifting base from a Diplomatic Mission to hotels, I was not quite aware of how much premium what you wore had on your professional standing; and how essential it was to wear the right threads and look the part one played in this show business-like, people-centric industry. There was a big lesson to learn that the transition had to be accompanied by transformation in one’s choice and style of dressing. On hindsight, I am quite surprised about why I was shortlisted and selected despite my pick of Sunday best that I wore, accessorized by no less garish stuff than terracotta jewellery. Luckily for me, the selection committee bypassed the veneer to concentrate on the baggage I carried within, just this once.
In my second hotel job, as I flew past seven rounds of grilling interviews to finally have an audience with the legendary owner of the Chain, I was fore-advised to dress subtly in chiffons and pearls, tame down the make-up and skip the dot on the forehead all together. For the Company, association and identification with the Brand started from outside-in and, today, I completely endorse that philosophy.
The last place I worked in, eased up our schedules a bit and allowed the team to take two Saturdays in a month off and dress down comparatively on the other two Saturdays at work. Some of us made the slip of taking the little slack in the rule too lightly and started appearing in casual to semi-casual attire. We made two mistakes – first of overlooking the fact that the hotel buzzed the same on weekends as it did on weekdays, actually even more. And the second, of grossly misunderstanding our French boss and his clear cut principles on the sartorial stance we should have continued to maintain. A quick rap followed and we were back on track.
Indeed, dress and deportment are two integral aspects that define our sense of belonging, slot us in the appropriate niche and help us step up for success in our roles. What we wear will always be important in our line of work and rightly so! But let’s look at something that is even more important – how we make-up our mental framework and dress up our demeanour.
Here follow sure-shot tips on dressing up for success, significantly more important than just the outer packaging.
Slick and styled
Let us start at the top. It is a proven fact that well-groomed hair helps us glide by bad days with ease and apparent effortlessness. In the similar vein, it is important to maintain a slick intellect, razor-sharp mind and well-oiled mental faculties; regardless of the stressful environment we work in and the exigencies we face day in and day out. In fact, application of intelligence, astuteness, quick-wittedness and mental alacrity differentiate the tough from the beaten, the winners from losers.
Today even men are so conscious of their grooming, skin tones, shape of brows and choice of creams, so much that make-up is no longer a woman-only domain. However, in these highly competitive times, it becomes even more imperative to concentrate on what lies beneath the pancake. Our focus must stay on exercising those 17 essential muscles in our faces. And whichever brand of make-up we may endorse, its effect must be accentuated by the underlying pleasantness in our inherent nature. It is a given that a pleasant disposition can counter even the ravages of nature, help you win friends and arguments, reach out to the toughest customer and instantly inject your ambient atmosphere with good energy.
A smile and genuine niceness of temperament can help you combat the hardest of situations and confront the most difficult of people.
Time on your wrist
A watch has always been a status symbol for us. From heirloom pieces and gem-encrusted Chopard to James Bond-inspired Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster; from the no-nonsense luxury of Jaeger-LeCoultre to the snob appeal of Patek Philippe. But what’s more relevant than the piece of bejeweled technological marvel on your wrists is how you keep your time. Are you always punctual? Are your goals met within the set boundaries of time? Do you accomplish work in a timely fashion? Do you ensure that you don’t have the tag of a deadline-chaser?
Over and above the branded stitches that nattily adorn you, you must wear a three-piece suit at all times. The first layer must be that of confidence. A confidence in all that your qualifications and experience have richly treasured up in you; and a confidence on your self-sure attitude that leans on your readiness to learn, change and adapt. This, then, is the strongest cloak that you can ever wear to battle any weather or woebegone scenario.
The second layer of your body suit should be of courage. The courage to meet biggest challenges, toughest professional terrains and the harshest of winds that may blow against you!
The third layer of suit has to be of compassion – that makes you see things from the other’s point of view, treat them kindly and be empathetic in team-work; the last being the prerequisite to ensure that the ship sails smoothly in the same direction with no parts of it divided or torn apart by strife and discordance.
Buffed plate of pride
A name tag carries a lot of significance in hotels. It makes an introduction for you, helps guests recognize you, allows people to address you with respect and by name, creates a bona fide place for you in the official matrix; all without you having spoken a word. Therefore, it is not odd for people to keep the brass plate buffed up and shining smart at all times.
But the brass plate must shine more with the polish of our performance and sparkle from the light of the stars we have accumulated along the way through our superlative work standards. The name tag does and must carry the weight of our name on it; a name we have created for ourselves by diligence, sincerity, commitment and hard work.
Just as the top brand tie or the exquisite string of pearls that go around your neck, so must your link of networks and professional relationships; bonded with strongly, secured steadfastly and held in the place of prominence with proper attention and thoughtful caring.
Your trademark fragrance
An editor friend recently commented that she has been, at times, put off by the evident lack of “flossing and deodorizing” that should automatically form part of the hygiene routine for the hoteliers – of any level or lofty title. She shares that she has had “a number of brushes with bad breath and body odour in the hospitality industry!” I, in my own set of smelly experiences, have come across wait staff who have overpowered the aroma of food they are about to serve. When I was on the Change Agent team for a hotel we were set to reposition as one of the finest in Asia, the old order left a legacy of stench-filled, musty uniforms that took away so strongly from the service attitude of the F&B personnel and that just had to be discarded and dumped as soon as we could.
Killing the guest ‘not so softly’ with bad breath and body odour is such a major turn off that you could risk losing current guests who you would have smothered and suffocated but also potential guests who would have heard or read about your smelly reputation.
Hence, how you smell is a significant factor in your overall bearing. Once you have taken care of this, you must move up to the higher notes that must subtly define your personal phenomenal presentability.
Jostling amidst your choice of Hermès, Dior, Chanel or Jean Patou, must be your unique scent that attracts positive energy and draws in people towards you. The bouquet should stem out of intrinsic goodness and bounce off the charismatic surface of a stellar personality.
The polished, shined-up shoes are meant for walking – determinedly and tirelessly. The feet are meant to traverse the planned out, dreamed up path; milestone after milestone. The two together must team up to chart commendable courses and race up to the destination; with distinct footsteps stamped on your unique journey.
The stride is meant to be purposeful and the gait poised for excellence and superior achievement.
More than the finest leather, the bespoke and handcrafted prize piece, the monogrammed, expensive bag; your personal satchel must be stacked with strived-for qualifications that showcase your hard-earned merit and a set of exemplary experiences where you have toiled, got more than your hands dirty, lost precious sleep over, endeavoured to give your best shot and earned laurels purely on the basis of your wonderful deliverables.
In our line of work we are in guest contact and dealing with people all the time. At one time or another, we are either under the arc lights in the public areas or under private scrutiny by those who matter. In any case, it helps to nurture a fit body rested, SPA-ed and exercised, to be well-groomed with manicured hands, to ensure personal hygiene of the highest order and to have not a strand of hair out-of-place.
The above is a commonly accepted fact of work life. But what is also most essential is impeccable mental and spiritual grooming with not a principle out of place, with best practices observed in our code of ethics, gold standards maintained in our set of virtues, highest level of integrity and righteousness adhered to, such that our elevated value-system guides us at each step and on every juncture.
If we get this soul dressing right and ensure that we are attitudinally, fundamentally, spiritually best made-up then the cosmetic will beautifully rise up to join hands with the cosmic and we would not just aspire to but also attain what we wish for from our professional and private personae.
Finally, a satiated and satisfied being attempts to give back as much to the universe as he takes from it. And that is a beautiful equation to maintain!