How to Dress for Success in the Workplace
Whether you’re starting a new job or looking to make an impression on a client, it’s important that you dress professionally. While there are many ways to dress for success in the workplace, there are also some things to avoid.
Here are some tips on how to dress for success in any professional setting:
It’s better to be overdressed.
You should dress for your environment. If you’re in a casual workplace and everyone else is wearing jeans and t-shirts, then you probably don’t need to wear tailored slacks and a button-up shirt. Another example, if you work at a fitness center, it would be more appropriate to wear fitness clothes than a suit. If the rest of your co-workers are dressed up (or even just slightly more formal than usual), it’s important that you do too.
Many people talked about their appearance as being on par with their level of talent or experience at work—and sometimes even above it!
It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed because it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile for your company and for yourself; it shows respect for both the position you’re applying for and who will be making hiring decisions; and most importantly—it gives potential supervisors confidence that when they hire someone new into their business office space (whether it’s a nonprofit organization or large enterprise), he’ll know how best keep himself presentable throughout his entire tenure there. Make sure your clothes are not revealing regardless of the environment that you work in.
You don’t have to wear suits or skirts.
In fact, the more casual you are, the better. If you’re comfortable and confident in your clothing choice, it shows through and people will respect that. If they don’t respect your choices then they’re probably not someone worth working with anyway!
Wear clothes that fit properly.
When it comes to dressing for success, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your clothes fit properly. Clothes that don’t fit properly are distracting and can lead to even bigger problems. If they’re too tight or too loose, they can make you look unprofessional or uncomfortable in your own skin—and if someone who works with you sees these signs of discomfort, then it could hinder their ability to trust and respect you.
A good way to tell if a piece of clothing fits correctly is by how easily and comfortably you move in it. You should be able to breathe easily when wearing something new (no matter how nice the fabric), bend over without exposing anything embarrassing from underneath your dress shirt or blouse. The point here is that there shouldn’t be any restrictions on motion whatsoever—if there are any such restrictions going on while wearing a certain article of clothing (even if those restrictions are only perceived rather than actual), then consider shopping around for something else that doesn’t have those same issues associated with it instead.
Stick with neutral colors, keep the patterns simple and make sure your ties won’t clash.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with neutral colors, for example navy, gray or brown. Shirts often come in one of these shades so it’s easy to match them up with a tie in the same color family. If you’re going for something more intricate, keep the pattern simple and less distracting so that your outfit isn’t fighting against itself—your shirt will then be more likely to shine alone! Also remember that ties are meant to complement shirts; if you have on an especially loud tie (pinstripes anyone?), make sure it still works perfectly with your shirt by taking a look at them side by side before leaving home in the morning.
Pay attention to your hair, jewelry, manicure and makeup.
- Pay attention to your hair. The way you style your hair says a lot about how serious you are about work. Make sure it’s neat and tidy, with no stray hairs sticking out, and be careful not to pull it back so tight that it causes headaches or tension in the neck area. Leave the ponytails for the weekends!
- Keep jewelry simple and unobtrusive. If there’s something dangling from your ears (chandelier earrings are popular), make sure they’re small enough that they won’t get stuck in anything during meetings or presentations—they could even become projectiles if thrown forcefully enough! You should also avoid bracelets clacking against one another when writing notes on paper; this can be distracting for both yourself and others around you who might have difficulty reading what’s written down when there are loud noises nearby.
Dress professionally for a good first impression.
When you’re applying for a job, the first thing you want to do is make a good impression. How? By dressing professionally and projecting confidence. If you’re unsure of what looks best on you, ask someone whose opinion matters to help guide your decisions. Don’t be afraid to tell them exactly why it’s important that they help pick out clothes for interviews: “I’m going on an interview tomorrow and I’d really appreciate it if you could help me figure out what kind of outfit would look good.” If they say no (which people sometimes do), just explain again why it matters so much to have their input: “I think this might be my dream job and don’t want anything distracting from my skills.” People are usually flattered by such requests and will want to help give off the best first impression possible.
Check your employee handbook or ask your supervisor.
As with anything, you should always check your company handbook for specific guidelines when it comes to employee attire. If you’re not sure of what is expected, ask your supervisor. She’ll be happy to help you get the look right! And don’t be afraid to ask questions: It’s better to know than not know (and make a mistake).
If there are no guidelines in place and/or if everyone wears different things, then it’s up to you—and only you—to decide what works best for your career goals and personality type.
Research your industry.
Research your industry. What is appropriate for one job may not be appropriate for another, especially if you are working in a creative field or an industry where fashion plays a big role. If you’re not sure what to wear, ask your colleagues or supervisor what they think would be appropriate.
Don’t judge your work environment on a casual Friday.
Casual Fridays are great, but they can also be a source of confusion. If your workplace has a casual dress code, it’s important to pay attention and make sure you’re not underdressing for the occasion. This means dressing up just a little more than everyone else if your company is more formal than usual, or making sure you wear comfortable shoes if people are wearing sneakers.
If you’re going to be in an environment where people are more likely to be dressed down than normal (like jeans), it sends the message that others should treat you like an equal—which isn’t necessarily true! So even though Fridays aren’t usually work days for most of us, make sure your outfit shows that you’re ready to take on more responsibility at work by looking polished and put together while still being relaxed enough to not feel stressed out.
Decide what and how many items to purchase at a time.
You don’t have to buy all of your office clothes at once. If you’re just starting out and don’t have much money, the best thing you can do is keep it simple, then build from there. The first step is to figure out what kind of look suits you best. Do you want a more formal attire for work? Or would something more relaxed be better for the environment? Once you’ve settled on a style that works for your workplace and lifestyle, think about how often you’ll need certain items (e.g., once per week) before deciding what and how many items to purchase at a time.
If possible, buy versatile pieces that can be worn with different outfits (for example: if jeans are part of your daily uniform). This will make sure they get the most mileage possible over time—and save money by avoiding having multiple pairs of similar clothing items in rotation at once!
Be mindful of the impression you’re making with the pieces you choose to wear each day.
The impression you make on others is important, so be mindful of the pieces you choose to wear every day.
What impression do you want to make? Would it be helpful for people to know that you’re a responsible person with integrity and good work ethic? Or do you want them to think that you’re creative and fun-loving? Asking yourself these questions can help guide your wardrobe choices. For example, if your goal is to present yourself as a professional who takes their job seriously, then consider purchasing clothing that emphasizes professionalism over creativity.
On the other hand, if your goal is simply to create a positive impression at work (which I would argue should be everyone’s goal), then focus on selecting pieces that are appropriately stylish for an office environment but still allow room for expression of individuality.
Shop at discount stores and take advantage of sales.
Discount stores are a good place to start. If you can find an item that’s on sale for less than half of what it costs at other stores, buy it. You’ll be saving money and getting a great deal. Take advantage of sales and coupons at discount department stores.
Buy clothes that fit you well, now.
The first step to dressing for success is to know what kind of body shape you have and what styles will work best for your body type. If, like most people, your clothing isn’t the right size or doesn’t fit properly, it’s going to make you look sloppy at work.
If you’re having trouble finding clothes that make both your body and personality stand out in a good way (versus being too tight-fitting or too loose), consider getting professional advice by visiting a local tailor or seamstress so they can help correct any issues with fitting before they become problems!
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on clothes.
If you’re new to the business world or are just starting a new job, it can be tempting to want to look like you’re already on top of things. You might feel like buying a bunch of expensive business attire is the way to do this. But putting too much money into your wardrobe can hurt you in the long run because it’ll mean less money for other things that are important to your career, like networking events and professional development courses.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on clothes. The perception that quality clothing costs an arm and a leg is simply not true. Instead, focus on quality over quantity when it comes to clothes shopping. Choose classic items that will last for years instead of trendier pieces that won’t age as well—this means no ripped jeans or leopard print anything!
In fact, there are plenty of ways to find high-quality garments without breaking the bank:
- Discount stores can be great places to find affordable items that look professionally tailored. You may even discover some brands you like better than their more expensive counterparts.
- Second hand stores are also a great place to find stylish outfits at bargain prices (and if you’re really crafty, you could probably make something similar yourself). If you’re looking for something specific or have your eye on the trendiest designs out there, thrift stores might not have what you’re looking for—but chances are good that they’ll have something close enough!
- At department stores such as Kohl’s and Nordstrom Rack, it’s possible to score name brand clothing at discounted prices year-round by shopping sales or using coupons available online or in store flyers (the latter usually only requires registration).
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
It’s important to dress appropriately for your role at work. If you want to change roles, it’s a good idea to update your wardrobe before applying for a new job. If there’s no opportunity for advancement in sight, consider dressing more formally than usual so that you’re ready when opportunities arise.
If your workplace has a business casual or informal dress code—or even if it doesn’t—don’t wear anything too casual unless specifically invited or approved by upper management (e.g., “Casual Fridays”).
Make sure your clothes fit properly.
First impressions are everything in the workplace, and that’s especially true when it comes to your clothes. When you’re dressing for work, fit is key. If your clothes don’t fit properly, then you’ll look sloppy and unprofessional. Your attire should also reflect your personality—if you’re naturally more formal or casual, then stick with that style of dress. Lastly, if possible try on different styles before purchasing them to see what looks best on you and feels most comfortable.
Don’t be afraid to be creative with color and patterns.
There are a lot of ways you can use color in your workwear. A bright, eye-popping color is great if you want to stand out from the crowd. A more muted shade can help convey your personality and make an impact on your environment.
Here are some more tips for using color:
- Use patterned clothing that makes you feel good about yourself – whether it’s stripes or polka dots! Workplace fashion rules were written before Instagram existed, so now we have no excuse not to wear awesome clothes at work! If it makes you feel confident and ready to take on challenges, go for it! If a certain pattern or hue brings up feelings of inadequacy or intimidation, maybe skip it…or try wearing the outfit outside the workplace first and see how people react to what they see (and how much fun it is).
Pay attention to details.
Details are important in all aspects of life. They can make or break a first impression, and they are what make the difference between a good employee and a great one. In addition to your overall appearance, pay attention to details such as:
- Shoes that don’t have scuff marks on them (you may want to wear different shoes depending on where you’re going).
- An ironed shirt tucked into your pants with no wrinkles or discoloration.
- Make sure you do not have rips or tears in your clothes.
- Haircut/style appropriate for the workplace and in line with company standards
When you are dressing for success in the workplace, it’s important to remember that appearances matter. A good first impression can go a long way towards getting hired or promoted at your job.