First impressions count for a lot, especially in the workplace; and that doesn’t just mean when you’re interviewing for a new job. The way you present yourself at work says a lot about your personal brand, and communicates to clients, employers, and fellow employees aspects of your personality which may or may not be accurate.
Although judging someone purely on their clothing is rarely a good idea, the first thing we see of someone is their physical appearance and we naturally draw conclusions about a person based on this. Depending on your workplace, you might have more or less of a say over what you get to wear at work, and therefore may be somewhat restricted already. But how do you balance professionalism with personality when it comes to choosing what to wear to work?
Dress for Your Workplace
Whether you are a girly girl, a rock and roll queen, or a high fashion king, dressing appropriately for your workplace is key. As well as dressing appropriately for the company you work for (e.g. not wearing glitter shorts and a trendy top in a professional business environment) it’s also vital to take into account the practicality of what you are wearing. For many office jobs, an ironed shirt, pencil skirt, and small heels portray a professional image, however in an animal care work environment, for example, you would likely ruin your pristine shirt and heels before the end of the first day! Make sure to take note of any dress restrictions and recommendations from other employees, so your dress doesn’t negatively impact your work.
What does inappropriate dress say?
Wearing something inappropriate to work doesn’t just mean wearing a shocking party outfit on a Monday morning to the office. Wearing something which is impractical or doesn’t represent the company well can also be deemed inappropriate and demonstrates that you perhaps aren’t taking the role seriously, aren’t ready to do the job or care more for your appearance than the job. Finding the basic essentials – whether it’s shirt and trousers or a polo top and fitted jeans – is a great starting point, from there you can add some personal touches.
Personality and professionalism
Being professionally dressed doesn’t have to mean not expressing your style at all. There are many subtle ways to add a twist to your outfit to bring a bit of your personality out, whether you wear a uniform or not. Depending on your workplace dress code, add a bit of personality with a necklace, a funky tie or a colourful shirt, which nicely balances smart and casual.
Make Sure Your Outfit is Looking Its Best
Washing, ironing, and taking care of your workwear is important no matter where you work. Whether you can wear your own clothes or have a specialist uniform, having clean workwear ensures that you aren’t spreading germs to your employees, customers, or patients and that you are representing the company well. Simply caring for your workwear shows that you are ready to work and have put the effort in to ensure your clothes are ironed and look good; especially in business environments and medical environments where cleanliness is key. As well as maintaining the health and confidence of your employees and customers, having a clean and well-maintained work outfit helps the clothes to last longer.
What does unmaintained workwear say?
Having unkempt, messy or dirty workwear indicates that you don’t put enough effort into how you present yourself at work. Customers and fellow employees are likely to assume that perhaps you aren’t as prepared or motivated as you should be at work, even if this isn’t the case. We all have our lazy days and weeks when everything goes wrong, but if we maintain a presentable outfit at work then people are much more likely to think you are a dedicated employee.
Stay Current and Up-to-Date
According to The Independent, it’s now only 1 in 10 employees who wear a suit to work; making this used-to-be workwear staple a thing of the past. When planning your workwear, be sure to stay up-to-date on the current workwear trends and don’t be either too formal or informal for your place of work. If you do decide to go down the suit route, then perhaps get a more modern suit or mix and match a suit jacket with some on-trend chinos, to ensure you are sending the message that you are aware of the current workwear trends. Represent both the company and yourself, as a forward thinking, fashionable individual who is up-to-date with the current styles.
Take Care of the Little Things
From having a neat and tidy hairstyle to making sure your glasses fit well, taking care of the little things can be key to being successful in your workplace. Even the smallest elements of your appearance can influence people’s perceptions of you, including the little details which might give away that you’ve had a late night or have been in a rush in the morning. Without question, having well-kept shoes, brushed hair and well-maintained nails indicates that you are prepared and ready for the working day (whether you feel you really are or not!).
Dressing up for work shouldn’t have to be a huge palaver, and certainly shouldn’t mean you leave your personality and personal style at the door. However, by considering what your workwear might say about you (and the company you work for) you can ensure you don’t put across the wrong message to employers, customers, or fellow employees. Keeping to the dress code is essential, as is having an outfit which you feel confident and comfortable in whilst at work.