Ladies and gents, whether you’re set to interview for that corporate dream job, or gearing up for your first day of work in the kindergarten classroom, know that you are what you are perceived to be. The type and style of clothing you wear in a professional setting ultimately reflects your personality. In short, what you choose to wear in a professional setting is everyone else’s reality.
Selecting the appropriate business attire isn’t difficult if you keep these basic points in mind when buying clothes for the office:
1. Present yourself as though your career-life depends on it
Always wear a conservative necktie to job interviews. Face it gentlemen, skinny jeans and wife beaters are hardly appealing in the workplace. Basic navy, gray, or dark colored two or three-buttoned suits are highly recommended (suit coats are optional, depending on your geographical location, weather conditions, season, etc.). Black or dark brown leather; lace-up shoes are the best choice. Slip-on shoes are not a viable option for men, as they are relatively informal and can be perceived as unprofessional.
A traditional look for women includes a skirt that falls just above the knee, slacks, and perhaps pantsuits. Just a hint of makeup is acceptable. Stay away from the perfume, especially during a job interview and/or the first few days at the office. A quality brand of polished flats or moderately low heels is perfect. Sweaters or fine when appropriate, and pantyhose may be considered the office standard.
Tip: Do not take the term “Casual” literally. Casual Friday does not indicate that you can skip into the office looking as though you’re headed straight for the recliner.
2. Dress to make a statement
You want to be taken seriously, as an upwardly-bound professional, ready to meet clients. Nothing spells unprofessional better than a company representative dressed in night club attire. Recent college grads and newbies entering the workforce tend to think because they held the spot light at Club XYZ, the same clothing selection will do. You can rest assured, such attire will only win you extra stares and a trip to the boss’ office.
Tip: Keep in mind that you are constantly being sized up. The little things count. How you dress will let the boss knot how you see yourself and how you approach the job.
3. When in doubt, traditional is trump
In the modern age of “Dress Downdome”, there are no set dress codes at many companies, so when in doubt, traditional is trump. The best way to ensure that you are in compliance with company dress standards is to understand the corporate culture. It is better to overdress on your first day at a new job. Allow the “higher-ups” to inform you that a more casual selection is acceptable, unless calling on clients.
Tip: Always dress for the task at hand. If you're a civil engineer headed for a construction site, jeans, a flannel shirt and work boots are fine, but that's not how to dress when making a formal presentation to the exec’s at the office.