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Choose leather shoes over casual ones. Photo: iStock
Choose leather shoes over casual ones. Photo: iStock

Common grooming gaffes men make at work (and how to avoid them)

If you work in offices that follow a strictly formal dress code, your shirts should be in light colours and the trousers dark

Looking sharp and well-groomed takes more work than simply throwing on the nearest pair of pants and that shirt on top of the ironed stack. Here are some small and oft-ignored details to keep in mind while dressing up for work.

The hair issue

When it comes to body and facial hair, there are some things that work and others that just don’t. Body hair hidden under your clothes doesn’t need much attention. But if it’s growing out of your ear, nose or visible on the exposed area between your first shirt button and neck, it needs to be taken care of. Buy a good trimmer or a pair of small scissors and snip off any unsightly strays.

Indian men are prone to baldness. But instead of doing that comb-over, men should own it, says Suneeta Kanga, a corporate grooming and etiquette trainer. “Just shave it off. It looks sharp and tells people that you’re confident."

Sporting a beard at work is now considered normal. A one-day stubble, however, is not. Either shave it completely or, if you have facial hair, trim and groom it regularly. Take care to shave your neckline and cheeks, which often end up ignored.

Bling is not king

Indian men are infamous for wearing too many rings, sometimes because of astrology, often because they love their jewellery. At work, this looks shabby. A wedding band is perfectly acceptable though. Also, stay away from those thick gold chains that shine through the shirt collar.

The colour code

If you don’t pay attention to the fit and colour of your pants and shirt, you’ll end up looking like you’ve rolled out of bed. Make sure your pants aren’t too tight or too loose. They should not be short (no exposed ankles) or too long either. “They should fall in a straight line with just one break and bend at the point where they hit the ankles and meet the shoe," says Saikat Mitra, design head for menswear brand Van Heusen. Your shirt buttons should always be in line with your belt buckle and only the top button should be left open if you aren’t wearing a tie.

Just like the fit, the colours you choose are equally important. If you work in finance or offices that follow a strictly formal dress code, your shirts should be in light colours and the trousers dark. White (sparkling white, not yellowing or greying) is the most preferred colour, followed by pastels and light pinstripes. Of course, if your office favours business casuals, you can experiment with dark-coloured shirts and light-coloured pants too.

Overstuffed pockets

Those bulges that emerge when you carry too many things in your trouser or shirt pocket look unsightly. “The only thing you should carry in your shirt pocket is a pen and ideally not a disposable one," says Kanga. No handkerchiefs, no cash or cards and certainly not your mobile phone.

Give the same respect to your trouser pockets. If you have to carry a wallet, make sure it isn’t overstuffed. Ideally, carry a card holder and money clip that don’t add bulk.

Think innerwear

Your innerwear should not be visible and ideally be in muted colours. “Treat them the same way you treat your outerwear—so there should be no embarrassment if there is a malfunction. They should not be soiled or torn," says Mitra.

Socks need care too. They should always be made of thin material with perfectly-fitting elastic—drooping socks are a faux pas and terribly common. The socks should match the colour of your shoes or trousers—white socks should find no place in your wardrobe.

Smart shoes

A great suit paired with rubber-soled shoes is the most common faux pas and yet continues to make an appearance in offices and boardrooms. Shoes should always have a leather sole and, ideally, laces. Avoid slip-ons, especially in formal set-ups. The leather shouldn’t shine too much and should definitely be free of embellishments and logos. You also run the risk of ruining a sharp look with scruffy or unpolished footwear and dirty soles, so always check before you step out.

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