How To Dress for Work: To maintain a professional look while wearing casual clothing, look for button-downs, blouses, and T-shirts in solid colors and dark-wash or black denim free from rips and holes. Although clean sneakers may be okay, stick to closed-toe shoes, and always avoid flip-flops.
What should you not wear to work? Plunging necklines, midriff-revealing crop tops, sheer fabrics, mini skirts, and dresses don’t belong in the workplace. A man’s unbuttoned shirt shouldn’t show off his chest hair. When you wear revealing attire people may not respect your professionalism.
A suit or pantsuit and button-down shirt (often with a tie) or knee-length pencil skirt and blazer are the requirements for business professional dress. Your business suit should be tailored to fit perfectly. If you wear heels, stick to something closed-toe and three inches or shorter.
How To Dress for Work
With the rise of startups and startup culture becoming increasingly popular due to the laidback atmosphere, many companies are adopting these ideations, opting for a more relaxed environment for their employees. For many companies, this means transitioning to a more casual dress code. Regardless of this change, our consultants tell you why it still remains important to dress appropriately for work.
1. You spend more time in work-friendly clothes than in casual attire – budget accordingly.
You might have expected that much of the legal profession adhere to a business professional dress code. This is an industry norm – especially in top-tier practices – but as David Forsdyke, a Managing Director at Michael Page Legal explains, many legal teams and law firms are now trying to demonstrate a more flexible approach to the working environment.
This is often reflected in a dress code, which is transitioning to a business casual rather than a business professional approach. For in-house legal teams in a creative industry, such as digital or media, the legal team usually adopts a more casual approach, dressing like their colleagues.
David notes that while people should judge you on your skills, experience, and competencies, human nature is such that judgments are made, rightly or wrongly, on attire and personal presentation. While business casual means different things to different people, he suggests that regardless of dress code, you should make a real effort, as it will be appreciate.
2. How do they dress and present themselves? Follow their lead.
Logistics has diverse working environments, as they are often based around depots, warehouses, and transport offices. It is a hands-on industry, so formal suits and smart attire are unusual.
Ben Lyons, an Operating Director at Michael Page Logistics, tells us that even in an industry where formal attire is not the norm – you rarely meet senior-level people who are casually dressed. It is important to dress in line with the organization’s dress code and represent the company correctly.
3. Don’t let yourself down by making a simple mistake.
Not every industry subscribes to traditional dress codes. The creative sector, such as digital and fashion, are much more likely to not abide by standard dress codes.
Katie Self, a manager at Page Executive Digital and a specialist in Agency and Digital Creative sectors, tells us that even in an industry where dress codes are more relaxed, it’s still important to dress to impress. Since it’s a creative industry, you have more freedom to wear fashion-forward or colorful pieces.
4. First impressions count, so what you wear should reflect the company’s brand.
Fashion is another industry where traditional dress codes are almost non-existent. Nicola Wensley, a Director at Page Executive, is a specialist in the fashion sector and tells us that more often than not, the internal dress code reflects the company’s product. For example, companies that sell contemporary clothing will be wearing next season’s fashion items to work.
In fashion, part of your job can be interacting with PR and attending industry events. Therefore, what you wear is important because it demonstrates that not only do you work there, but you truly embody the brand. In the fashion industry, your style is a reflection of taste. Particularly if you are in a role that involves making product decisions and styling, it is a key indicator of your ability to perform.
One thing is clear, how you dress for work is important. Whatever you do, wherever you work, your attire can be a significant part of your identity and a key factor in how you are perceived throughout your relationship with a company.
Steps On How To Dress For Work According to Our Consultants
Whether it’s fair or not, the way you’re dressed at work is sometimes used to gauge your level of competence or how seriously you take your career. Fortunately, following a few guidelines as you dress for work each day will help ensure you always look sharp and professional, and you can add your own personal touches to make your look your own. Keep in mind, however, that every industry and company has its own guidelines, so if you’re not sure what to wear, ask your coworkers, boss, or HR representative.
Here are the 5 best steps on how to dress for work:
- Business Casual for Women
- Business Casual for Men
- Business Formal for Women
- Business Formal for Men
1. Business Casual for Women
- Dress up if you’re ever in doubt about what to wear. Despite the name, “business casual” still involves dressing up for work. In fact, sometimes business casual dress for women can look similar to business formal attire.
- Dress down for a more laid-back office or on casual days. Many offices now embrace a more relaxed dress code throughout the entire week, while other companies choose to have Casual Fridays or other days when it’s acceptable to dress down.
- Wear casual, knee-length dresses and skirts for a feminine look. To ensure you always look professional, your skirt should at least reach your knees when you’re standing, and it should skim over your body rather than hugging it closely.
- Opt for dress slacks if you’d rather wear pants. Dress slacks are a sensible, comfortable option if you prefer not to wear a skirt to work. Choose creased slacks that drape neatly from the hips through the hem, with a length that falls just at the top of your shoes.
- Wear a dress shirt or blouse with a skirt or slacks. When you’re choosing a top, opt for one that fits you comfortably, and stay away from anything that’s sheer or tight or that shows your cleavage. A few good options include button-down shirts, blouses, fitted knit sweaters, or a shirt and vest.
- Wear heels, pumps, or high-quality flats. Your shoes should be made of leather, fabric, or another dressy-looking material like micro-fiber. Typically, closed-toe shoes are the most conservative, but sandals which aren’t too dressy or too casual may sometimes be appropriate. Avoid shoes with thin straps, platforms, and spiky or chunky heels.
2. Business Casual for Men
- Opt for a dressier look if you’re not sure to wear it. While some industries are becoming more relaxed in their dress codes, it’s still better to be overdressed rather than underdressed in a business setting.
- Wear either a long-sleeved or short-sleeved collared shirt. When you’re choosing what to wear to work, you can never go wrong with a white, light blue, or conservatively-striped collared shirt.
- Opt for a polo or a button-down without a tie on casual days. Your office might have certain days when it’s okay to dress down, like Casual Fridays. Some offices might even have a more casual dress code year-round.
- Wear pressed khaki, gabardine, or cotton pants. Dress slacks are not required in business casual, although you can still wear them paired with business casual shirts.
- Wear a lighter-colored sports coat or a high-quality sweater. In some places, you won’t need to wear a jacket every day to work unless it’s cold or you just prefer to, while in other companies, a jacket is expected regardless of the weather.
- Wear dress shoes that are comfortable yet still professional. Make sure your shoes don’t pinch your toes or rub against the heel of your foot, as you won’t look very professional if you’re limping around the office.
3. Business Formal for Women
- Wear clothes that fit and that are not revealing. Dressing professionally means avoiding clothes that are provocative and distracting.
- Opt for a skirt suit to look dressy, feminine, and professional. In a business formal setting, the most common attire for women is a skirt suit, which is a skirt and matching jacket with a blouse underneath.
- Choose a dark-colored pants suit if you’d prefer to wear pants. If you’d rather not wear a skirt or dress, a pants suit can be a comfortable alternative.
- Wear a tailored blouse or shirt with a skirt or pants suit. When you’re choosing the top to go with your suit, opt for a high-quality fabric, like cotton, silk, or a blend. Your top might be a shell or sleeved top, but you might also choose a knit sweater or sweater set.
- Select a dress for a simple alternative. A conservative dress can be a nice option for the office, especially when the weather is warm.
- Wear hosiery with your skirt or dress in cool weather. In a business formal setting, hoses are generally preferred, as bare legs are considered more casual.
- Wear either heels or pumps. In a business formal setting, opt for closed-toe heels and pumps. Do not wear heels that extend beyond 4 inches (10.2 cm), and avoid wearing sandals, chunky heels, flat-soled shoes, stilettos, and platforms.
4. Business Formal for Men
- Wear a suit or slacks and a jacket. Business formal usually means wearing a suit, tie, dress shirt, and dress shoes. When you’re choosing a suit, opt for conservative colors like black, grey, or navy blue.
- Choose pants that fit neatly around your waist and cover your socks. Your pants should sit at your waist, above your hips—they should never sag. In addition, have your dress pants hemmed so they completely cover your socks and touch the tops of your shoes.
- Wear a suit coat or blazer that matches the color of your slacks. Having a tailored suit coat or blazer is preferred, although it is not as necessary as pants and shirts. Having a slightly bulkier or less form-fitting jacket is acceptable.
- Wear a white or light-colored, long-sleeve dress shirt. The most professional look with a suit is always a collared button-down shirt. White looks the most formal, but pastel shirts are also acceptable. Wear either a solid-colored shirt or one with subtle stripes.
- Wear a tie that matches your shirt, pants, or both. While you can use your tie to express your personality, be sure that the color you select is conservative.
- Wear dark-colored dress shoes. The most professional-looking shoes are typically either black or cordovan (brown leather). Polish your shoes every few weeks and try to keep them looking shiny.
- Opt for conservative but tasteful accessories. It’s normal to want to show off a nice watch or an eye-catching necklace, but be judicial in what you wear to work. A few well-chosen accessories can actually make you look more professional and put together.
- Wear a black or brown leather belt with a standard-sized buckle. Large or customized belt buckles should not be worn in business settings. Also, avoid belts that are brightly colored or adorned with rhinestones or other obvious embellishments.
- Use either a briefcase or business bag to carry your items in. You do not have to spend obscene amounts of money for a proper carrying case. Just make sure your bag looks like it belongs in a professional setting.
- Wear your hair neat and opt for minimal makeup, if you wear any. Each day, take some time to style your hair in a way that looks neat and flattering. If you have facial hair, be sure that you are well-groomed every day.
- Keep your fingernails neatly groomed. When you wash your hands, scrub under your nails so they don’t look dirty. If you paint your nails, opt for a neutral color that matches your outfit, and avoid using false nails, especially ones that are excessively long.
- Choose a conservative watch. In a professional setting, your watch shouldn’t be flashy, but it shouldn’t be the cheapest plastic watch you can find, either. Opt for a nice watch with a metal or leather band, with an easy-to-read dial or display, in a style that suits your personal taste.
However, if there is anything you think we are missing. Don’t hesitate to inform us by dropping your advice in the comment section.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below!
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