Tips & Resources
Tips & Resources

Dress For Success: Styling Advice

In the dynamic world of professional attire, one name that stands out as an embodiment of style, quality and value is Marks & Spencer (M&S). This iconic British retailer has etched its name as a leader in providing not only exceptional food, clothing, and homeware but also impeccable fashion choices for the workplace. At the helm of its operational excellence is Teo Xiu Ling, a seasoned Operations Manager with a profound understanding of how dressing well intertwines with professional success. She shares essential advice for young professionals who are seeking to master the art of dressing for success.
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Teo Xiu Ling

Could you introduce yourself and outline your role as Operations Manager at Marks & Spencer?

Hi, my name is Xiu Ling and I’ve been working for 16 years in the retail industry. As an Operations Manager, I’ve always thought that this is a very important role in the business as we need to ensure the process is in place from the backend to the frontline for the business to run smoothly for daily operations. I also continually seek opportunities for improvement and enhancement in our operations.

In a professional setting, how important is dressing appropriately for young professionals?

Dressing appropriately is vital for young professionals for several reasons. It’s about creating a first impression. Your outfit and the way you present yourself is one of the first things people notice about you, hence this is the chance to create a positive first impression which can be crucial in building relationships with colleagues, stakeholders, and clients. It can help build trust and credibility, potentially leading to more successful business relationships.

Secondly, dressing appropriately helps to boost your confidence; When one dresses professionally, they often feel more confident and self-assured. This can translate into improved performance and communication skills, moulding them into more effective professionals.

Are there specific fashion pieces or styles that you recommend for creating a stylish yet business-appropriate look?

Personally, one can never go wrong with a smart casual look. Put on your favourite top, throw on a nice blazer and pair it with either straight pants or even jeans, this is a gender-neutral outfit and everyone can rock the look! To tie the outfit together, put on your favourite pair of sneakers and you’re ready to seize the day!

For ladies, a one-piece dress would also work well as they are simple yet elegant. If your personal style is streetwear and lifestyle, again, pair it with your favourite pair of sneakers and you have a good balance of personal and professional style!


How can young professionals incorporate their personal style and individuality into their work attire without compromising professionalism?

Young professionals may look around while they are out and about, inspiration can come from all sorts of places such as window displays, fashion advertisements, magazines, or even the people they pass by could give some form of inspiration.

Personal style is very individual. They can observe their workplace’s culture and environment first and slowly incorporate their own personal style that fits in and looks professional.

For example, they may dress in what is conventionally known as professional attire and wear modern trendy shoes.

Accessories can also be an excellent way to highlight your personal style. Add statement pieces like a unique watch, tasteful jewelry, or a distinctive tie or socks. These items can express your personality without overshadowing your professionalism.

Young professionals should not be afraid to experiment with their style. Over time, their personal style may evolve as time goes by. As one gains experience, they will become more adept at finding the right balance between individuality and professionalism.

What advice would you give to young professionals starting their careers and wanting to make a positive impact through their dressing choices?

Finding the perfect fit is key. You must ensure that the clothing fits impeccably. Whether they buy off the rack or have their clothes tailored, a proper fit makes a significant difference in your overall appearance and professionalism.

Ultimately, making a positive impact through dressing choices is about finding a balance between professionalism and personal style. Your clothing should enhance your personality, confidence, reflect your values and support your career aspirations while also maintaining comfort. By carefully considering your wardrobe decisions and adapting them to your specific industry, you can leave a lasting, positive impression in your professional journey.

Describe Marks & Spencer’s stance on professional attire for its employees and the values emphasised in dressing for success.

Marks & Spencer ensures attire is comfortable and suitable for people from all walks of life and job industries. The company respects its history and retains the heritage colour green.

At M&S, we place a strong emphasis on providing our employees with the freedom of expression. We believe in fostering an environment where our team members can take pride in what they wear, feel confident in their attire, and develop a strong sense of belonging when representing the M&S brand.

Could you share a personal anecdote highlighting the correlation between dressing for success and career growth. How does the company support individuals in their career growth?

In the early stages of my career, I used to don casual attire as my daily dress code. However, as I steadily advanced in my professional journey, I made a deliberate shift towards a more polished and business-appropriate wardrobe, smart casual. This way, I could incorporate my personal style yet maintain the professional look on my daily dress code. This strategic decision had a profoundly positive influence on my career progression and overall development as it’s a confidence booster.

As part of Al-Futtaim Group, representing Marks & Spencer, our organisation has a global presence in more than 20 countries. There are a vast number of opportunities for learning curve and career advancement that will enable talents to be nurtured to achieve their career aspirations.


Is there anything else you’d like to add regarding the significance of dressing for success and fostering growth within an organisation like Marks & Spencer?

Self-confidence is key to success, along with a positive attitude. Believe in yourself before presenting to others. Marks & Spencer supports growth through a conducive environment.