Why Good grooming is useful in school and beyond


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In a heroic book titled Happy at Work, Jim Donovan talks of a mild-mannered man who hired a local home-improvement contractor. Tom, a well-cultured contactor, arrived in a clean, cool van.

He was also clad in a clean, smartly-pressed uniform. It had a conspicuous company logo embroidered on the shirt pocket.

Somehow, only his dress code made him seal the deal.

Why? Because he evinced an image of a serious and successful professional. Progressively, Tom secured several referrals related to his work.

He accessed success because he obeyed the wise words of movie mogul, Darryl Zanuck, who advised, “Never make a deal with a man or woman who is poorly dressed.”

Now, you know, why, in the recent past, the Dean of Students at the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU), through a memo, issued a strict edict instructing students to be prone to an acceptable style of dressing.

This did not augur well for a section of students who felt that some of the rules on dress code were out of date.

They also felt that varsity arrowheads were becoming high-handed. Then, the University of Eldoret followed suit — to effect the directives on the same dress code.

In actual sense, only disobedient students dress in a manner that is anathema. I choose to say so because KeMU is an institution deeply steeped in firm foundations of Christian values and culture.

When they are plugging in new students, they give them contextualised Students’ Handbook, which stipulates all rubrics — rules and regulations.

Meaning, total adherence is the be-all and end-all.

Failure to do so, a student becomes insolent. Arguably, students who break college rules also proceed to parade indiscipline in the world of work.

Victor Ochieng

In the whole scheme of things, good grooming is a useful soft skill.

It is also an employability skill. Colleges mostly focus on hard skills and technical skills. They issue certificates after commencement ceremonies to symbolise co-competencies categorised as hard skills.

Ostensibly, there is a high rate of unemployment among young adults due to a serious skills gap. They seal this yawning gap through upskilling.

Meaning, for graduates to be a tick for employment that brings enjoyment, they need a cocktail of useful skills: hard skills, soft skills, employability skills, transferable skills, 21st-century skills, life skills and people skills.

Moreover, comrades should know that the way people dress sends signals about their mindsets and self-image.

Dressing speaks volumes about their comportment and composure. In the distant past, the Japanese believed in three powers: Firstly, there was the power of a jewel, a symbol of money.

Secondly, there was the power of the sword, an emblem of the military. Then, thirdly, there was the power of the mirror, standing for self-image. This was the most important power.

Again, when I sat at the Penman Centre to weave these wise words, I learnt something worth writing about when I listened to awesome audio by Dennis Waitley titled The Psychology of Winning.

He was contending that we improve our self-image not only when we dress to impress, but also when we adhere to courtesy, decency, modesty, moderation and professionalism.

We should dress to match the demands of the occasion. It is utterly wrong to attend lectures in pyjamas or attend a church service dressed as if we are going out for a date.

Consequently, now, you know why management at KeMU advised male students not to rear dreadlocks, plait hair, wear earrings, or swagger with bare chests and untucked shirts. By the same token, their female counterparts received the warning not to wear tops exposing their navels, bellies, boobs or backs.

Skirts should not be scanty. Instead, they should slightly stretch below the knee. They should not exaggerate slits on skirts.

No lass should become crass by exposing acres of her body to the public. The university outlawed see-through dresses and body-tight trousers.

This is in order because some questionable dress codes promote forms of perversion such as exhibitionism and voyeurism.

As I see it, college arrowheads should also steer clear: advise comrades not to tattoo their bodies like tree trunks, or pierce their bodies like bullet-ridden walls.

They should also condemn body bleaching. Some young adults mutilate their bodies without the gift of foresight.

For some students are oblivious that such preposterous practices may have a boomerang effect on them. Later in life, such ridiculous decisions may hit them hard in the face.

For instance, think of a comrade failing an interview in future because of the interviewer’s twisted attitude towards a job seeker who is tattoo-tinged.

University students who rear dreadlocks should also try to ascertain people’s general perception of such. Somehow, college students should focus on self-re-invention: Building brands with brilliance.

When it comes to dress code, we should never dress the way we want. Students in colleges should know that they are preparing for the world of work.

No wonder, they should dress for success.

Only a preposterous person chants slogans such as ‘my dress, my choice’. Yet, when it comes to people’s perception towards us, they address us the way we dress.

It gets back to the soft skill of personal branding.

Lastly, in Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck, Jim Donovan shares the engrossing story of an insurance salesman who would buy designer suits in a consignment store, wear them a couple of times, and then resell them on e-Bay.

That practice enabled him to dress for success.

He endeared himself to potential clients. He flicked an image of a serious and successful person. In turn, he made more moolah.

By Victor Ochieng’

The writer rolls out skills-enhancement programmes through talks and training. vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

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