Whether you’re job hunting or just want to be taken seriously at work, how you present yourself is an often overlooked. In fact, the dress code is integral part of your career and can boost your chances at impressing others.
Slightly overdress for your position
Remember the old adage: dress for the job you want, not the job you have? It’s absolutely true, because it shows you’re excited and eager to be at your workplace. Having a dress code like this also shows that you put thought into the details; not to mention the fact that you’ll come across as more professional and competent.
And when you’re out shopping or deciding on what to wear, go for the slightly nicer dress, the nicer suit or or the fancy shirt. However, you still want to fit in. There’s nothing worse than turning up completely over-dressed; like wearing a suit to your first day at McDonald’s.
Before any interview, try to find out what the company dress code is; especially for your desired position and department. Always dress up one notch better than the standard dress code, that way you will look smart and show you have made an effort; without over or under dressing. Also take a look at the work habits of Millennials.
How to build a wardrobe for the job you want
Easier said than done? Perhaps. You may worry that you can’t afford to dress for the job you want. When budget is a concern or you simply don’t know where to begin, use these tips for building a wardrobe you can be proud of:
- Stick with the classics. If you’re shopping on a budget, go for classic styles and colours that will last. Avoid trendy items for now. Save your fashion statements for inexpensive items you can easily replace, like coloured socks, pocket squares for men, or scarves for women.
- Learn to meticulously care for your clothes. Read the labels and follow them to the letter. Does it mean you’ll spend a little more time doing laundry? Probably. But your clothes will last much longer. Try to avoid buying lots of pieces that are dry clean only because it can quickly become expensive.
- Buy the highest quality you can afford. The majority of the time price really does determine quality. Bypass any budgetary issues by shopping for gently used items or last season’s styles. Look for a high quality consignment store in your area; they usually have nicer pieces than thrift stores. Familiarize yourself with high quality brands you’d like to buy, then look for them on your discount shopping expeditions.
- Buy fewer, but better items. Sometimes it’s better to purchase fewer clothes to ensure better quality. Look for individual items you can easily mix and match instead of dresses or matched suits. Stick with classic pieces in muted colours and patterns so you can wear a shirt more than once a week with a different jacket or pants; that way people aren’t likely to notice.
- Pay attention to fit. Many times the difference between a suit (or any piece of clothing) that looks expensive and one that looks cheap is all in the fit. Find a good tailor who can help adjust all of your clothes; even inexpensive ones. That extra few dollars can make a world of difference. Likewise, get to know your local shoe repair shop to help keep shoes, belts, and purses looking new.
- Look for durable fabrics including wool, cotton, silk, and linen. And avoid man-made fabrics like polyester and rayon, which will deteriorate and show wear faster.
- Choose multi-season pieces. When considering a new piece, think about how you can wear it in different seasons. Aim to have most of your closet be wearable on all but the deepest winter and hottest summer days rather than splurging on items that are only useful for a short time each year.
Even if you’re working at an entry level position and hope to be a senior VP someday, upping your dress code with your desired position in mind only takes a little planning and creativity.
Do you have any career wardrobe dos and don’ts to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments or on social media.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.