Taking a cue from the popular American television show Style By Jury, which sees a group of complete strangers behind a two-way mirror evaluating contestants on the show, we decided to find out what some of our outfits are saying about us. Worse, we might not even be aware of it!
Some of the comments from Style By Jury about contestants have been “She looks unemployed”, “She looks mean and unapproachable”, “He looks like a joke”, and finally, “She looks expensive, in charge, commanding”, the latter following a makeover transforming the contestants and giving them a fresh new look.
But we wondered, what kind of outfit can make you look unemployed for example? How can you be unapproachable, purely based on your choice of outfit?
For answers, we spoke to fashion stylist Lucky “La’key” Ndaba, who has styled the likes of Kelly Khumalo, Brian Themba and Kabomo.
THE UNEMPLOYED LOOK
Ndaba told us exactly what it means to look unemployed. “It basically means that look that is unkempt, untidy, thrown together, sloppy.”
– Hair is the biggest red flag.
A dry-looking weave is a start. One that has no volume and shrinks like a sponge at the roots says a lot. With braids, one can pull off employment until the synthetic hair grows over your natural hair and it becomes bulgy and untidy. Where the track narks are no longer visible.
– Long, fake lashes make you look cheap. They are not subtle or elegant and don’t shape your eyes for the desired professional look.
lThe wrong foundation, too much blush, colourful eyeliner and shiny lips scream unemployment. Eyebrows drawn with a permanent marker say a lot.
“With men, the unemployment look can be tricky. A well-cut beard and haircut can escape even the biggest critic. However, like the old saying goes, the clothes maketh the man. And in this case, never has it been more true,” Ndaba says.
– A badly cut suit jacket with no proper layering is a dead giveaway. It is big, ill-fitting and wears the man as opposed to the man wearing it.
– Baggy jeans with flip flops gives the impression of a carefree bum.
– Wearing formal pants with a promotional T-shirt and trainers is the biggest giveaway to unemployment and says, “I’ve been looking for a job”.
– A man’s skin will tell you when it’s not taken care of. Any man with three shades of skin tones walks a lot and doesn’t apply sunscreen. He is on the street looking for work.
THE UNAPPROACHABLE LOOK
Ndaba says outfits that make you look mean and unapproachable all have to do with colour, make-up and sunglasses.
“All these three contribute to your attitude. If you wear orange and your skin tone prefers red, already you have a clash of colours. That changes your appearance, a smile will come across as a sneer. Your eyes may be badly piercing and not in a good smokey way. Also, wearing black all the time, almost bordering the Gothic look, can make you look unapproachable,” he says.
OUTFITS THAT MAKE YOU LOOK SILLY
Ndaba says these are the outfits that look ridiculous, period.
“Dressing like you are still at varsity will never get you taken seriously, and this applies to the type of industry that one works in. If you are in corporate, crop tops, baggy jeans, hoop earrings and colourful make-up will certifiably make you the office joke,” Ndaba says.
– Beach shorts, punk rock tees, flip flops and cartoon figurines on your T-shirt scream that you clearly miss high school.
– Baggy jeans with chains and bucket hats.
– Sneakers with formal pants.
– Earrings on both ears.
– High-waisted, ill-fitting pants for men make one look nervous, not informed about fashion and comes across as a bad, nerdy look.
THE EXPENSIVE, POWERFUL LOOK
“A powerful, rich and in control outfit goes with confidence. That is the secret to any outfit that is either cheap, vintage or expensive,” he says.
– Minimal make-up is key, with well-done eyes. A beautiful lip colour that brings out your face and brightens it. Matte is great as it doesn’t crack or leave residue.
– When it comes to hair, a woman who can pull off any hairstyle that is clean, properly coloured and well-maintained is the boss.
– With clothes, a well-tailored power suit that is well-fitted, minimal details that accentuate your body shape in all the right places is the direction you want to go. Pair it with great heels, but be mindful of the heels and how comfortable they are.
– For a powerful look, less is more when it comes to accessories. Either the signature accessory is the bag, the neckpiece or the earrings.
“Simplicity for men is the ultimate sophistication. A well-fitted, tailored suit with a crisp white shirt. A tie to complement the pocket handkerchief and a statement timepiece,” Ndaba says.
“Black or brown Italian shoes to complement the timepiece. Don’t forget a belt to bring all together. Any man wanting to make a powerful statement needs four essential accessories: a good pair of Italian shoes, a signature timepiece, a great leather belt and a subtle cologne.”