Dressing appropriately for work can be a delicate task. Professional attire has certainly evolved to a younger, casual style in some office environments, but remains staid and conservative in others. Deciphering the dress code at a new job takes a bit of research, a bit of observational prowess, and, yes, a bit of shopping sometimes.
Here, we have gathered 5 tips on getting your dress code right at work:
- DRESS FOR THE IMPRESSION YOU WANT TO GIVE OTHERS
Just because you’re working at a startup doesn’t mean it’s okay to look like a slob. Make sure even your casual look says “ready to succeed in life” and not “just rolled out of bed.”
Likewise, if you work for a firm where business formal is the standard dress code as you clients and engage with the outside world regularly. Your clothes don’t just represent you; they represent your entire company, so pay attention to the details.
- MAKE SURE YOUR CLOSET IS READY
For men, this means having a freshly pressed white shirt, a dark suit, a conservative tie, a pair of polished shoes, a jacket that goes with everything, and a dozen pair of black socks ready at your disposal at all times.
For women, a knee-length skirt that can be dressed up or down, a pant suit, jacket that goes with everything, simple jewelry, polished flats or medium-high heels, an extra pair of pantyhose.
- USE YOUR POWERS OF OBSERVATION
Look around to see what everyone else is wearing. Don’t stray too far from the norm. If everyone sticks to dark colors and avoids patterns, don’t show up in yellow or vintage print. Pay attention to the details–do men wear conservative or modern ties? Do the women wear hosiery?
- WHEN IN DOUBT, DRESS UP
Perhaps you slept off last night forgetting to fix what to wear for tomorrow or you don’t have a clue about how to dress, it’s best to dress up instead of down. Here are some basic rules.
Men: Wear a dark, tailored suit with a white dress shirt and conservative tie. Make sure that all three items are freshly pressed and wrinkle free. Do not mix patterns between your tie, shirt and suit. Wear black socks and be sure to polish your dress shoes.
Women: Wear a neutral colored suit or skirt with jacket. Be sure the skirt is no shorter than two finger lengths above the knee, and shoes should be closed-toe.
Both men and women: Pay attention to personal grooming like having clean nails, neatly groomed hair, and no flashy, large jewelry.
- ELEGANCE ALWAYS WINS
We all want to let our personality shine through in our wardrobe, but irrespective of the adjectives you use to describe yourself, always keep in mind that elegance wins, even if you work for a company with no set dress code. If you have an eccentric personality, choose an understated, less-is-more look. If you can’t go without patterns, wear one at a time. If the word suit is not part of your vocabulary, consider at least having a jacket to dress up your jeans and tee shirt look when necessary.