Dressing for Success at the Workplace

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I am sure everyone has heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, sources say that 55% of people’s initial perception of you is based on how you look, dress, and act.

When selecting your attire for a meeting or a typical workday, it’s essential to aim for success. However, it’s crucial to prioritize dressing for success when going on an interview

65% of managers said that clothes could be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. Also, 62% of managers said they wouldn’t hire someone if they dressed too casually. These statistics show the importance of dressing for success.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

— Edith Head


Ways to Dress for Success

The day of wearing formal suits to the office is a thing of the past. Most employers are giving employees the option of ditching the suit and tie and dressing in jeans and a polo. More than 50% of organizations allow workers to dress somewhat casually by wearing khakis and polo shirts or sweaters. In comparison, 13% let employees dress even more casually by wearing jeans and T-shirts. This trend is continuing to rise year-over-year. In the past five years, the percentage of U.S. workplaces allowing casual clothes every day went from 32% to 50%, per Indeed.

Even though 33% of workers would rather have a casual dress code than an extra $5,000 in pay, workers still stress about trying to figure out what’s appropriate to wear. We are here to help.

First off, what you wear will be based on your plans for the day at work. If you are meeting a client or it is your first time in the office, what you wear will usually be different from what you wear on a regular day. Even though you can never judge a book by its cover, people make an initial judgment when they first meet you. From what you say to what you wear, it is important to understand that the way you dress can affect your success.

Take a Cue From Those in Charge

When figuring out how to dress at work, take inspiration from your company’s leadership. It never hurts to dress for the job you want. If you are in a position where your boss wears a button-down and tie, make sure you do too!

Bonus Tip: Every tie color has a different meaning, so make sure you pick the right one! The way you dress and present yourself will show how serious you are about succeeding in the workplace.

What to Wear to an Interview

Dressing professionally during an interview is crucial to getting a job offer. As said before, 55% of people’s initial perception of you is based on how you look, dress, and act. Even if you look great on paper, if you don’t dress appropriately, you will give the impression that you lack respect for the interviewer and the company. 

Opt for business attire such as a suit, dress shirt, tie, or a professional blouse with dress pants or a skirt. Ensure your clothes are clean, well-fitted, and in good condition. Additionally, choose conservative colors and avoid flashy accessories. Dressing neatly and appropriately will help you make a positive impression during your job interview.

What to Wear On Your First Day of Work

We all have those nerves on the first day of work. You are not alone. In 2019, 94% of American workers reported experiencing stress at the workplace. Many things can cause anxiety on your first day. However, what you wear on your first day shouldn’t be one of them.

To get a good idea of exactly what you should wear on the first day is modeling after the individual who interviewed you. Did they wear a suit or button-down? More often than not, the best way to determine how to dress for your first day is to dress similarly to your interviewer.

If you interviewed with a recruiter and are still unsure on what to wear because you never met anyone inside the company, make sure to ask your point of contact!

Additionally, if those in charge come to work every day with just a polo and jeans, don’t come in with a suit unless asked. If it is your first week, you will get a pass on being overdressed. However, there is an unwritten rule that you should not dress above your superior’s style because it can come across as you thinking you are better than them. 

Even if you can dress as casually as you want, make sure the clothes you choose are clean and wrinkle-free. Consider carrying a travel-sized wrinkle releaser spray (like this one from Amazon) for an on-the-go option. In addition, clean up regularly, including haircuts, shaving, etc.

Showing up each day with wrinkled clothes can give off a bad impression to your co-workers and managers. Especially if you meet with customers daily, having ironed clothes is essential. If you are the type of person that rushes out of the house every morning, there are alternatives to ironing.

Companies like Proper Cloth & Untuckit make wrinkle-resistant dress shirts! Spending a few hundred dollars on a new wardrobe may be worth it for you.

Focus on Details

A dress code doesn’t just encompass the clothes you wear. Be sure to pay attention to the accessories you choose and your grooming. Accessories can be worn tastefully, and hair, facial hair, and nails should be neat to maintain a well-kept appearance like we said previously.

Not sure what type of accessories are professional? Visit What Accessories You Can Wear at Work?

If you are looking for some ideas for styling your hair, visit Top 30+ Professional & Business Hairstyles for Men.

professional haircuts

Think About Your Schedule

If you are meeting with a client or have an important meeting, you may want to dress a little more formally. In addition, you may want to keep a blazer in your office just in case your day unexpectedly changes. The last thing you want is to dress casually, and the CEO shows up to your work unannounced.

Be Consistent

If you wear professional or conservative clothes from Mondays to Thursdays, don’t appear completely different on Fridays. Even if the company has “dress-down Fridays” or “casual Fridays,” you still have to look presentable enough. Regardless of the type of company, always be consistent.

A professional look demonstrates a high regard for oneself and your employer. How you carry yourself, your behavior, and your wardrobe style should all point to one goal: you want to succeed.

Science Behind "Dress for Success"

There is actual science behind the term “dress for success.” A study done in 1955 proved that suits portray a form of authority. The study was performed on a busy city street where two individuals walked against the traffic on different days. One individual was dressed in a suit, the other wore a work shirt and trousers. The individual dressed in a suit was followed by 3.5x more people than the one dressed more casually.

This study showed that people “followed-the-leader” more with the individual that was dressed professionally. The fact is, the study was done crossing the busy city street illegally. Individuals were more likely to cause a violation with the individual in a suit than the individual dressed in “lower status” clothes. This study was called “The Influence of Status on Pedestrians’ Failure to Observe a Road-Safety Rule.”

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