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How to Dress for Office Work

When starting out in the corporate world, changing jobs or after a promotion many professionals are faced with the dilemma of what to wear to the office. It is likely that many have posed this question when their own personal style is far removed from the classic style used at work. There are companies in which it is obligatory to wear a specific attire, and others in which it is not. What is clear is that a formal or semi-formal style will give us a successful image.

If we enter a law firm and find them dressed in just any type of clothing, it is likely that they would lose credibility for us and we would go to the competition. In this blog you will find practical advice regarding what to wear at the office.

Why should we dress a certain way at work?

The work environment is one in which our personal image can improve our competency. It can provide us with security, authority and professionalism. You only need to do a quick test to demostrate this. Close your eyes and imagine a man and a woman in suits. What impression did they give you? The image creates a feeling of high status, professionalism, security...

General recommendations

 In this article we are going to discuss attire for both men and women, but first there are a series of general recommendations for both sexes:

  • Well ironed clothes.
  • Make sure there are no stains on our clothes.
  • Shoes say a lot about a person, make sure they are clean and well kept.
  • If you wear jeans, avoid the worn or ripped look and do not wear them excessively tight.
  • Avoid excessive accessories.
  • Wear the correct size clothing. This is important because we want to feel comfortable during a long eight-hour day, and wearing baggy or tight trousers (US, pants) does not do us any favours.   

MEN

Work clothes for men

For very formal companies, it is recommended to wear a suit. For less formal companies, formal trousers (US, pants) and a shirt can be worn, without a tie. In young companies, jeans are acceptable, as long as they are not worn or ripped. For all three cases there are a series of essential tips to make sure that we do not make any mistakes when dressing for the office:

  • Non-patterned shirts.
  • Neutral colours: White, black, beige, grey, camel...
  • Appropriate shoes such as Oxfords or Moccasins, stay away from sports shoes.
  • If you want to wear bright colours, limit them to just the tie.
  • Plain formal trousers (US pants).
  • Avoid flashy watches.

I recommend the following page http://www.fashionbeans.com/2013/ss-office-wear-boardroom-corporate-smart/ for more details on the subject.

WOMEN

Work clothes for women

There is a wider range of possibilities for women´s clothing than form men, and therefore it is more complicated. We want to achieve a professional look, and unless we work in fashion and have more freedom, the following tips are useful:

  • Classic suit skirt.
  • Medium or low heel, we do not want to end up with swollen feet at the end of the day.
  • Non-transparent shirt.
  • Blazer or suit jacket.
  • Natural or simple makeup.
  • Use colours freely, except for "neon" or "fluorescent" colours.
  • The length of the skirt should be at least 6 centimeters above the knee.
  • Avoid plunging necklines and visible bra straps.
  • Nails should preferably be in classic colours: browns, reds, creams, French manicure... avoid greens, yellows, blues, etc.
  • For a touch of originality, we can play with simple clothes and bolder accessories.
  • Classic trousers (US, pants), palazzo, bell bottoms, straight dark jeans, avoid skinny fit.
  • Structured bags in neutral colours.

For further help please see the following website: http://www.marieclaire.com/fashion/tips/what-to-wear-work-gallery.

Other factors

Besides clothing, there are several other factors to consider. Men with beards should make sure to keep them well looked after and trimmed. A badly kept beard gives a very bad impression. For men with long hair, the ideal would be to tie it in a pony tail. For women, an updo, or hair down without covering the face is appropriate as wearing hair in your eyes gives the impression of a careless personal appearance. Pay attention to nails, others notice them while we gesticulate and a dirty or uncared for aspect does not favour our image. Make sure attention is on our face and not on other accessories that could be distracting. Our smile can lead to a good first impression, clean and looked after teeth offer a positive sensation. Too many rings or bracelets are not recommended in the work environment.

Attitude

A good attitude is essential for success. A big smilelooking who you are speaking to in the eye, maintaining sensible personal space during a conversation, a forceful, but not raised, tone of voice are all factors to bear in mind when working with our colleagues or superiors.

Conclusion

You only have to do the test to see the excellent results of a good personal image. It is worth investing money in a work appropriate wardrobe. We can start with two lower and six upper pieces (for each inferior piece, 3 upper garments), and combine them as we gradually expand our wardrobe.

Lidia Rios's picture
Lidia Rios
Technical writer and blogger as freelance and currently studying Hispanic Studies and specializing in literature of the XX century. Winner of the first prize of short novel of 2012 and the first price of epistolary genre of 2013 en www.retalesliterarios.es.