In recent years, office dress codes have been called into question for holding men and women to different standards.
But regardless of your feelings about professional attire, wearing the right outfits to work, especially when you’re new to a position, is key to making a good first impression and gaining respect from your superiors.
Wondering what to wear on your first day in the office or to a big work event? Here are three tips to help you dress well as a young professional.
1. Understand Common Dress Codes
Navigating the business world for the first time is tough enough. But understanding what common dress code indicators really mean can make dressing for your first day of work or a work-sanctioned event a little easier. Some common office dress codes include business formal, business casual, business professional and casual.
Of course, the outfits that are appropriate for each of these vary widely. For instance, if your office is business formal, men will likely wear suits while women will wear pant or skirt suits. But if your office is casual, dark denim, slacks or skirts and a nice blouse will be more than appropriate. Sweatpants, leggings and T-shirts rarely have a place in the office, unless you work in an ultra-laid-back space or are working from home and don’t have to worry about meetings!
2. Keep it Classic
If you’re ever in doubt about the dress code on your first day of work or for a special event, stick to this rule: Keep it classic.
Many classic, timeless styles are just as suited for formal events as they are for casual ones. Indeed, this allows you to better blend in with the crowd so that your outfit doesn’t wind up looking out of place if you misjudged the dress code.
For instance, women can never go wrong with a little black dress, which can easily be dressed up or down with the right jewelry, the right shoes and the right jacket or sweater. Plus, they’re a great confidence boost, as they flatter most body types.
3. Don’t Let Fashion Affect Your Focus
It’s normal to want to make a great impression on your first day at a new job, big meeting, or when you’re asked to attend a special event like a work dinner or a conference. However, in your pursuit of an outfit that will stand out, don’t let your fashion choices affect your focus on the big day.
Heels that make it difficult to walk through the office, tight clothing that makes it tough to breathe, or layers that leave you sweating during that high-stakes meeting may look good at home but likely aren’t practical for work.
When you’re picking out your outfit for the day, opt for items that are both fashionable and comfortable. Unsure about whether an outfit may be distracting? Then try it on. More to the point: Sit, stand, walk and breathe in the outfit to see if it still feels comfortable.
Dressing Professionally as a Young Adult
Whether it’s your first time joining the workforce or you’re looking to make a good impression at a big meeting, following these tips can help you to dress professionally, follow the dress code and ensure your fashion choices don’t stand in the way of your focus.