Dress for Success: What you should wear to the workplace

Dress for Success: What you should wear to the workplace

What you wear to work matters a lot when it comes to displaying a public image. If you are working for a large multinational company, you probably want to look as professional as possible. Corporate suits and dress pants are appropriate for these types of businesses. On the flip side, if you are working for an oil or manufacturing company, cargo pants and overalls are most likely the norm. From business attire to casual wear, it’s important to look your best when you go to work. After all, it’s a major reflection of your character and what you represent as an employee. If you work at a large business building, closed-toe shoes and blouses are the best fashion choices. If you are in the working field, t-shirts and jeans may be your type of style. If you are a gymnast, then track pants and sweatshirts are your go-to outfits.

Getting dressed for the office doesn’t have to be hard work. You don’t have to leave your personal style behind just to look professional in front of your boss. Your goal is to project a professional and confident image of yourself, regardless of your career level.

Don’t be a fashion victim. Let us suggest some formal, yet trendy work attire to wear!

Business Dress Codes:

  • Formal Business Attire – For professional men and women, this means black dress pants and black blazers. For women, a matching blouse or linen shirt would go best with matching socks and shoes. You don’t want to wear green socks in black leather shoes. Make sure you colour-coordinate every piece of clothing and try on neutral colours. For business people, it’s always a good idea to try on several suits before deciding to buy one. It should fit your body perfectly and you should feel comfortable in it. Don’t wear anything that is too tight or too lose. Leave some breathing room in the outfit and attach belts and accessories to make your outfit stand out.
  • Corporate Casual Wear – For working men and women, this can be interpreted as anything from shorts and hats to sundresses but it mostly refers to – “smart business” attire. Think of a pair of dress pants and a blouse for women, or for men button-up shirts and black pantsuits. Sleek knits, skirts and tops are all examples of casual wear. Don’t wear anything too fancy as to distract other employees. Denim, t-shirts and flip-flops are only acceptable under the most casual of work environments. Under any circumstance, you should always ask what the standard dress code for a company is and it’s usually determined by the person you report to.
  • Small Business Outfits – If you own a start-up company, you can wear whatever you want as long as it makes you happy. Generally speaking though, it’s always wise to pick a standard suit and hang it on the back of your door in case you need to attend a public meeting. Come up with a contingency plan, or a backup plan, like a jacket tucked neatly in your office closet for emergency purposes. You never know, you may have to use it one day. Pack an extra suit and tie as well as clean socks, leather shoes, dress shirts and dress pants to work. So if someone calls you to a conference in the middle of the day, you’ll be dressed to the nines when you go. You should avoid clothes with ruffles and keep your work attire in a bag. No tacky clothes like golf shirts with collars, unless you are going golfing later in the day.

Fashion No-Nos:

  • Risky Clothing: Sometimes what you wear to work can make or break you. The last thing you want to do is pull a career killer outfit and permanently damage your work image. You want to avoid something that is too sexy, like see-through lace shirts, miniskirts, spaghetti straps, sheer tank tops, loose-fitting sundresses and strappy stiletto sandals. Also, you don’t want to wear anything too casual such as jeans, shorts, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses and sneakers. Lastly, you should avoid wearing clothing that is too sloppy. These would include wrinkled clothing, multi-layered outfits and long, oversized baggy-fit clothing.

Style Mistakes

  • Jewellery Choices – If you must wear jewellery, keep it to a minimum. Don’t wear oversized earrings or what we usually call – chandelier earrings. Things like jangles that make noise or stacks of bangles can be quite distracting. Instead, opt for stud earrings or single bracelets and necklaces that look formal and conservative.
  • Colours and Designer Labels – You may not know this but colour plays a huge part in your overall professional image. Depending on your mood, there are different vibes that each colour gives out. For example, red tends to be aggressive-looking while navy blue makes you look more trustworthy. Gray is conservative and black is chic. Most of these colours go best with pantsuits, skirts and office shoes. Also, if you are really into designer labels, avoid going overboard with your taste and limit yourself to wearing one designer suit or carrying one designer bag to work.

Everything from the style, color, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will come to bite you back if you are not careful. What you wear speaks volumes about your character and lifestyle. So if you are concerned about your career, pay close attention to what you wear. It’s always wise to go for something more professional than something cute and trendy. Keep your look polished; wear shirts with cufflinks to big meetings and collared shirts to show professionalism (like they just came out of a drycleaner).

This is not a walk in the park or even a Saturday picnic. It’s your workplace – so treat it as such.

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