Narcissism takes hold of Aussie workers

by Cameron Edmond,Iain Hopkins11 Oct 2013

Do you take a sneaky look at yourself in the lift to the office? Guilty of spending up big on Armani suits, or perhaps the latest Apple tech gadget? You are not alone. New research shows Aussies like to look good at work – and are spending up big to do so.

The inaugural Officeworks Professionals survey has revealed that Australian workers are expected to spend $4.5bn annually to enhance their professional look at work. The survey, commissioned by Officeworks, explored what makes Australian workers look and feel professional in their workplace.

White collar workers are spending their well-earned cash on their professional look, with the survey revealing that this year they will each spend an average of $922 on a range of items in order to look good at work, investing in corporate clothing, the latest technology, stylish furniture and colour-coordinated stationery.

The survey also revealed that in a 12-month period, 20% of office-workers will spend more than $1,000 per year on looking professional; and only 5% are unwilling to spend a cent on improving their professional look because they don’t see any value in it.

Amanda Lecaude, vice president of the Australian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO), said that the survey results are a reflection of the changing nature of professionalism in the workplace.

“The definition of being professional in the workplace is constantly evolving, but we’re seeing office-workers from a range of different companies placing increasing emphasis on how professional they look, and investing accordingly,” Lecaude said.

But does looking good at work really matter? Some companies think so, especially when workers are in the frontline dealing with customers day in, day out. Business Insider compiled a list of some of the strictest dress-code retailers around:


Abercrombie & Fitch
Constantly making headlines for their image-based founders, the US retailer asks its employees to have “natural” hairstyles – no “extreme” looks, and no chunks of clashing or contrasting colours. The colour black is also banned, with guidelines on how shirt sleeves must be folded.

American Apparel
American Apparel bans its employees from ‘overplucked’ eyebrows, advising against blow-dried hair and prohibiting lip gloss and most other make-up.

Employees at this urban retailer are expected to be well-groomed and wear minimal make-up. Rock n’ roll job seekers should also take note that logos on clothing and light-coloured denim are also banned. The organisation wants employees to dress in the retailer’s ‘boho-chic’ style.


The North Face
Employees at the outdoor/camping clothing retailer must be head-to-toe in the company’s clothes. Visible piercings – including ears – are a no-go.


Victoria’s Secret
Neat and ‘tasteful’ hair and make-up are encouraged, with no facial piercings or nail art. To top it off, employees must wear 90% black.


And you thought wearing a tie everyday was tough…


  • by scott rickards 14/10/2013 3:13:11 PM

    The article is interesting, but I'm not sure if this sort of behaviour, on its own, can be classified as narcissism.

    Many authors cite checklists for helping determine whether a person is a narcissist or not. Self-obsession with appearance, latest gadgets and some superficiality might be on
    those lists. However, those of us who have had business dealings with the true narcissists can cite some of the other criteria, such as bullying, deceit, manipulation and a gross overestimation of their abilities and importance.