What is your motivation when getting dressed for work each morning? Are you looking to be comfortable all day while you complete your work, drive around town or head to a staff meeting? Do you want to show off your personal style through your clothing?
While it’s important to be comfortable and feel trendy, you also need to consider professionalism. Success at work occurs when you have an amazing work ethic while still appearing professional. Leave the muscle shirts at home, the excessive makeup and the short skirts in the closet and try these ideas to dress for success at work.
Common Workplace Attire Mistakes
In the age of “casual Fridays” and casual office environments, it’s easy to take it to the extreme. While a company may be suggesting jeans are acceptable for the day, some may try to get away with nice sweatpants or trendy jeans with holes as part of the design. When there are no set rules, you sometimes have to take your best guess at what is office appropriate. The rule of thumb is that it’s always better to overdress than to under-dress.
Aim for conservative clothing options to avoid a potential problem. It would be more embarrassing to dress too casually than it would be to wear the most dressy outfit. Flip flops and cutoffs may be your version of “casual Friday” but most likely, your office’s version is dressy jeans and a nice polo shirt. Of course, being dressed in a three-piece suit is taking things to the extreme.
What Should I have in my Closet?
When you shop, the rule is to go for understated elegance while avoiding flashy or trashy clothing. Don’t strive to look like a rock star, movie star or like a surfer that just rolled out of bed. Men should make sure they have plenty of button-down shirts, polished black shoes, slacks and a jacket that match in color. It is also important to have a conservative tie.
Buy two dozen pairs of identical black or blue socks. Feel free to have some variety in shirt colors with an occasional pink or yellow option or stick to blues and white shirts for safety.
Women are best suited in a skirt hitting just above the knee or slacks. Polished flats or moderately heeled shoes along with simple jewelry are a perfect choice. Keep makeup simple and skip perfume as it may irritate your colleagues. Add a sweater or button down shirt and pantyhose if desired. Also, be sure to keep regional differences in mind, as some workplaces in warmer environments may allow for varied clothing options.
Keep in mind that you’re not trying to attract attention like you would during a weekend activity. Professionalism is the most important thing and dressing appropriately can mean the difference between staying where you are now and growing in your carreer. When you are interviewing for a new job, step it up a notch by keeping your hair well-groomed, adding a suit jacket, wearing clothes with a great fit and having good hygiene like clean nails.
A bad first impression is hard to erase. This is the bare minimum that is required to have a chance for the position because it’s easy for a job recruiter to eliminate a contender that doesn’t bother to dress professionally when making a decision on the right candidate.
Dress for success so that your boss and colleagues know you take the job and your career seriously.