How To Dress To Work

Do you know that in your workplace, either as a boss or an employee your wardrobe is a sign of your professionalism and can be used to measure your level of competence?
Do you also know that when your co-workers and customers look at you, they are supposed to feel comfortable working with you?
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Dressing to work is one of those areas where there is a lot of room for confusion. Your working wardrobe is going to depend on the region, climate, industry, and company where you are working. You should know that a banker's attire is far different from a waiters'! To be taken seriously by your employer or customers, it's important to dress appropriately to the workplace. The problem with appearance is that it translates to performance. Whether you like it or not, the way you look plays a role in your success in the modern workplace. There is the need to look sharp yet professional in your workplace.
First of all, what you need to know is the types of business outfits open for one to pick from:
A.      Business formal outfit.
B.      Business casual outfit.
C.      Choosing Business Outfit Accessories.
If you are always brainstorming before you can come up with something to wear each day; this post is definitely for you. Obviously, dressing to fit the environment and season is not really an easy task so sit back and grab your popcorn (and soda) while I take you on a ride through your Business Wardrobe!!!
This post will be divided into male and female category so you can simply skip to your own category (unless you want to teach your partner some new dressing tips lol). Let’s start with the first type of business outfit;
A.      The Business Formal Outfit for Guys: You have to dress business formal if you work with customers in a professional setting, such as a bank or office. Business formal usually means wearing a suit, tie, and shoes.
So for the guys, here’s a tip- as a general rule, try to fit in to the culture in your company. If you dress completely differently from everyone else in your company, you will stand out and not in a good way. Dressing in a manner appropriate to the company’s culture shows that you are a team player and are concerned about the kind of image you and your company present to clients.
Here are some guidelines to achieve this look:

1.      Wear clothes that fit: Clothes that are too tight will be too uncomfortable to work in. Clothes that are too loose will look sloppy and unprofessional. Work attire should be snug without being constrictive. Have a tailor take your exact measurements and suggest specific clothing for you. Remember that shirts and trousers come in various sizes. If you are huge or more muscular, opt for an athletic size. If you are lanky, try the slim fit size. If you are bulky, buy a broad fit size.
2.       Watch your colleagues dressing: Notice how your colleagues dress and use it as your standard. Try to dress at the same level as others in your workplace.
3.      Get a copy of your company’s dress code policy: It would do you good if you have a copy of your company’s dress guide (if any). This will help you not to always appear odd in the midst of your colleagues. When in doubt, simply imitate your boss.
4.      Go for quality over quantity: A well-made jacket in a quality fabric may cost you quite a bit more than one that is cheaply made, but it will look better, fit better, and last longer than the inexpensive version. Take care of those good-quality clothes you’ve invested in. You may want to purchase shoe trees, a tie rack, those goofy rubber shoes that fit over your dress shoes, and other items that you’ve only ever seen in your dad’s closet.
5.      Always remember your tailor and dry cleaner: The dry cleaner and the tailor are about to become important people in your life. The most expensive suit in the world can still look terrible if it is dirty or fits poorly.

Still want to know how to put your clothes together to form an outfit on your body? Try this out:
1.      Shirts: Wear a white or colored button-up, long-sleeve (short-sleeve is cool but long is more appropriate in a formal setting), collared shirt. Wear either a solid colored shirt or one with subtle stripes. Avoid loud colors such as bright yellow, orange, and certain shades of red (unless that's a compulsory wear to work). Always tuck your shirt into your lower wear.
2.      Ties: Wear a tie that matches something you are wearing. Be sure that the color you select is conservative, meaning that it is not ostentatious or too attention-grabbing. Ties with simple designs or solid colors are the best choice. Do not tie your tie too short! Have the bottom corners of your tie just above the top of your belt. This is the common tie length.
3.      Trousers: Wear your trousers tightly around your waist, above your hips. Do not sag your trousers as this looks very unprofessional. And be sure that they are properly hemmed. Trousers that touch the floor when you walk are either the wrong size or improperly hemmed. Trousers that rise over your ankles when you sit are properly hemmed. Do not wear khaki, they are business casual. Wear a blazer that matches the color of your trousers (wearing two colors is business casual). Again, opt for conservative colors.
4.      Suits: Having a tailored suit coat or blazer is preferred, although it is not as necessary as trousers and shirts. Having a slightly bulkier or less form-fitting jacket is acceptable. If your sport coat has two buttons, only button the top button. If it has three, only button the middle button. This is not only a function of style, it facilitates movement. Unbutton your jacket when sitting to avoid stressing the buttons, which may pop off if left buttoned. This will also prevent wrinkles to your coat. Some workplaces do not require you to wear a blazer or full suit. If you are uncertain, opt for a two-piece matched suit as this is the safest and most professional-looking choice.
5.      Shoes: Wear shoes, either black or brown leather. Polish them every few weeks and try to keep them looking shiny. Find shoes that are no more than a half-inch longer than your actual feet. Remember that shoes are cut differently and that your normal sneaker size may not be the best fit for shoes. To help reduce creases and wrinkles, buy a shoe tree to place in each shoe whenever they are not being worn. Remember to store your shoes in their original box when not in use. Always wear dark socks with your shoes. Never wear athletic white socks with business attire.
6.      Belts: Wear a black or brown leather belt with a standard sized buckle. Large or customized belt buckles should not be worn in business settings.

B.      The Business Formal Outfit For Ladies: Ladies, what you need to know is that business formal for ladies means slightly different attire than it does for the guys. Most of the rules for dressing apply if your company has a business professional dress code, but with more flexibility regarding cut and color. Pants suits, coordinated separates, coat dresses, and dresses with jackets may all be appropriate. Just be sure to get a copy of your company’s dress code policy before you go shopping. As a general rule, try to fit in to the culture in your company. If everyone else wears pastels and you dress in black every day, you will stand out and usually not in a good way. Dressing to fit in with the company culture shows that you are a team player and are concerned about the kind of image you and your company present to clients too.
No matter what your company is all about, it is not appropriate to wear tight, sexy, or trendy clothing to work (unless the company states that). This is especially important for women, who may be judged by their clothing more harshly than men. Yes, I know, it’s so unfair; but this is not the time for you to start a protest.
Here’s something you should know too:
1.      Go for quality over quantity: A well-made jacket in a quality fabric may cost you quite a bit more than one that is cheaply made, but it will look better, fit better, and last longer than the inexpensive version.
2.      Buy versatile fabrics and dark or neutral colors and you’ll get more use out of individual items. Some suits are sold with both pants and a skirt for extra versatility. That red suit may be stunning, but chances are people will remember it every time you wear it. Until you have a larger wardrobe, stick to less conspicuous items that you can mix and match.
3.      Invest in a good raincoat and winter dress coat. You’ve worked hard to cultivate your professional image; don’t spoil it by wearing a barn coat over your suit.
4.      Take care of those good-quality items that you’ve invested in. Find a reliable tailor and dry cleaner; they are about to become important people in your life. At-home dry cleaning kits can be very economical for blouses and sweaters, but unless you’re a whiz with the iron, you’ll still want to have your suits professionally cleaned.
5.      Wear clothes that fit and that are not revealing. Dressing professionally means avoiding clothes that are provocative and distracting. Clothes should never be too tight or too loose. They should also not be see-through or inappropriately cut (for example, low-top blouses or high-slit skirts).
6.      Dress to impress, not to be eye-candy. Business formal is all about sending a positive message about your attitude - your being on the job - as well as your ability.

Get your outfit together by trying this:
1.      Skirts: Skirts should always be the appropriate length and fit. Be sure that your skirt extends to your knee. It should fully cover your thighs when you are seated. Longer skirts are also appropriate as long as they are narrow enough to not be billowing but not so narrow that you can't climb stairs comfortably. Skirts should only have center-back slits that extend no higher than the back of your knee. Center-back slits are acceptable because they facilitate walking and stair climbing. Slits designed to increase view of your legs are not appropriate. If you sit in a chair and can see too much thigh when crossing or uncrossing your legs, your skirt is too short. If you wear anything under your skirt, be careful it does not show. If you cannot walk comfortably in a skirt, it is either too small or too tight, simply change it. Note that darker colors are the safest and most professional-looking choices skirts. Always button all the buttons on your shirt to look professional.
2.      Dresses: Like a skirt, a dress is best for warmer weather but should still be the appropriate length and fit. Dresses should extend to the knee, similar to skirts. However, wearing long dresses is not advised as this may look too formal, like attending a dinner or award ceremony. Do not wear backless dresses. Do not wear dresses with spaghetti straps or plunging necklines. Sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved dresses are all acceptable. Choose neutral and solid colors. This includes black, grey, navy, and brown. Wearing a blouse is not necessary if you are wearing a dress.
3.      Blouse: Wear a tailored blouse or shirt underneath your blazer. Opt for a color that coordinates nicely with your suit. Blouses should not be too tight or too low cut. No cleavage should be showing. All blouses should be opaque rather than see-through. The blouse or shirt should be a fine-gauge knit shell sleeveless or a sleeved knit top. A nice alternative to a blouse may be a tailored knit sweater, sweater set, or twinset. The blouse, shirt, or sweater should be made of quality fabric such cotton, silk, or blends. Avoid velvet or shimmery fabrics you would wear to a party.
4.      Blazers: Wear a tailored suit coat as part of your skirt or dress suit. Wearing a separate blazer is also acceptable so long as it matches your bottom wear. Separate blazers should be tailored. Opt for navy, dark gray, brown, or black coloring. Choose a solid or subtle weave pattern, or a plaid that looks solid from across the room. Suits should be made of quality fabrics such as wool, wool blends, high quality blends, or high quality synthetics.
5.      Shoes: Wear either heels or pumps. Shoes should be made of leather, fabric, or micro-fiber. Closed toe heels and pumps are ideal footwear. Do not wear heels that extend beyond 4 inches (Its not in any way classic). Avoid wearing sandals, chunky heels, flat-soled shoes, stilettos, and platforms. It is important to be able to walk comfortably in your shoes. Hobbling in uncomfortable shoes looks clumsy and unprofessional. For greater effect, coordinate your shoes to match with your purse.

C.      Business Casual for Guys: In today's workplace, where casual wear is becoming increasingly popular, it can be tricky to understand the rules of appearance. More and more offices are moving toward “business casual” in place of suits, but the rules are often not very clearly defined. Even experienced professionals sometimes have trouble deciding what’s appropriate.
You can dress business casual if you work in a non-professional setting such as in retail, in a restaurant, or in customer service. Business casual should still look professional but does not require you to wear a suit and tie (unless you are asked to). Foregoing formal clothing does not mean wearing jeans, sneakers, and sweatshirts!

Guys, what you should know is that one company’s version of business casual may mean you can wear a jacket or a tie, instead of both, while khakis and a polo shirt are completely acceptable somewhere else.
Here are some general guidelines you should note:
1.      Casual does not mean sloppy! Whatever you wear should be clean, pressed, and in good condition. Check regularly for missing buttons, dangling threads, and signs of wear and tear.
2.      Take a cue from your coworkers and supervisors about how casual you should dress. Remember that although it is a business casual environment, dressing up a bit can show ambition on your part.
3.      If your company is more “business” than “casual”, tailored pants and a sport coat or a sweater is appropriate This is not as formal as a suit, but dressier than khakis.
4.      When in doubt, be conservative. In the workplace it’s essential to appear professional if you wish to be treated as a professional. Remember that it’s easier to move from a conservative look to a more casual one than the other way around. See what other people in your office are wearing to get a clearer idea of what is acceptable. Pay attention to how your boss dresses; successful people tend to look the part.

Here's what you should note when trying out business casual outfits:
1.      Shirts: Long-sleeved oxford shirts in solid colors are a safe bet. In a very casual environment, polo shirts (not wrinkled!) may be acceptable. Do not wear loud print shirts or T-shirts advertising your favorite restaurant. Always tuck your shirt in. Avoid baggy or tight clothing. Business casual clothing should be neat, crisp, and classic rather than trendy. Wear either a long-sleeved or short-sleeved collared shirt. Polo shirts are also acceptable in most business casual situations. Choosing a white, light blue solid, or conservative-striped shirt is the safest choice. Shirts do not have to be tailored but should not be baggy. Though they can be less form-fitting, you must still look professional. All shirts should be neatly pressed and tucked into your pants.
2.      Trousers: Wear neatly pressed khaki or cotton trousers. They don't have to be tailored but they should not be too tight or too baggy. They do not have to be hemmed but should still avoid touching the ground. Black, brown, navy, and khaki colored pants are preferable. Although jeans are sometimes acceptable in certain industries, choose the above options first before choosing jeans. Observe your peers and bosses to see if jeans are truly acceptable in the workplace. If you do wear jeans, choose a dark color over lighter or faded colors.
3.      Coat: Wear a lighter colored sport coat or a high-quality sweater. Do not wear a black suit coat or blazer as this is too formal. Opt for a navy blazer, a sport coat, a conservative and solid-colored V-neck sweater, a jacket, or a cardigan. When wearing blazers, it is okay to pick sizes that are not so form-fitting. For dress sweaters and cardigans, however, it is best to select snug sizes. Make sure your V-neck sweatshirt is not too low. You only want it deep enough to expose the collar of your dress shirt. If wearing a uniform shirt, a jacket is often unnecessary. Most workplaces employing a uniform want their company shirt to be clearly seen. Some companies go ahead to give company sweaters too.
4.      Shoes: Wear shoes that are comfortable yet still professional. Wear either leather boat shoes or loafers. Avoid shoes that are too formal, especially if wearing khaki pants and short sleeves. The contrast between qualities will look awkward and confusing. Shoes should still be conservatively colored. Navy, black, and brown are all safe choices. In some situations, wearing sneakers that are specifically labeled "business casual" is also acceptable. These sneakers also tend to be brown or darkly colored. Some non-professional jobs require you to do manual or physical labor (for example, stocking items in a store). In this situation, athletic footwear may be the standard. Remember to observe coworkers and ask supervisors first before switching to athletic footwear.
5.      Belts: Wear a belt that matches your shoes. Don’t wear a belt with a colour so loud you can be noticed from far. Black, brown, navy or dark blue is the most preferable colour to pick; depending on the season and your personal choice.

D.     Business Casual Outfit for Ladies: Business casual is especially tricky for women, who have more choices in clothing and accessories. Pay attention to what others in the company are wearing before you ditch your current wardrobe. And when in doubt—you’ve heard this before—go conservative!

Remember this:
1.      If you choose to wear a skirt, stay away from short hemlines, high slits, and anything tight. Take the “sit” test; try the skirt on in front of a mirror and sit, cross your legs, stoop, reach and do anything you would do during the course of a normal day. Check to make sure you’re not showing too much leg and that you’ll be comfortable wearing this item.
2.      Sweater sets and tailored shirts are a safe bet. Avoid anything sheer, tight, or low-cut, just as you would when preparing for an interview; unlike an interview, you have more room to experiment with colors and patterns. Remember the general rule: If something looks like you could wear it to the bar, you probably shouldn’t wear it to work.
3.      You can be more creative with your accessories when dressing in business casual, but don’t be extreme; your 15 bracelets shouldn’t clank together every time you move your arms, for example. How much flexibility you have with wardrobe details like this will depend a great deal on what industry you work in.
4.      When in doubt, be more conservative like I said. This isn’t the most fun or glamorous wardrobe imaginable and it might not express your personal style, but it’s essential to appear professional if you wish to be treated as a professional. Remember that it’s easier to move from a conservative look to a more casual one than the other way around. See what other people in your office are wearing to get a clearer idea of what is acceptable. Pay attention to how your boss dresses. Learn how business casual differs from business formal for women. Your business casual attire will often look similar to your business formal attire. If you are unsure of what qualifies as business casual, wearing business formal skirts and dresses is acceptable.
5.      Clothes should still fit properly. Although you do not need to wear a tailored suit, you should still avoid baggy or tight clothing. Remember, casual does not mean less professional. Low-top blouses and high-slit skirts are still inappropriate.

Here are some dressing tips:
1.      Shoes: Don’t wear athletic shoes, sandals, or trendy styles like platform shoes. Casual wear typically differs the most from formal wear when it comes to shoes. Wear heels, pumps, or high-quality flats. Shoes should be made of leather, fabric, or micro-fiber. Closed-toed shoes are the best conservative choices. Shoes should be black, navy, brown, tan, or taupe. White and pastels are not business appropriate. Sandals which are not too dressy and not too casual may be appropriate. Flat-soled shoes are also business casual. Thin straps, spike heels, chunky heels, and platforms are not business appropriate. Some non-professional jobs may require physical work or a lot of walking. In this situation, wearing athletic footwear may be acceptable. Remember to observe coworkers or consult with supervisors before wearing sneakers.
2.      Skirts: Wear casual skirts that are not too tight. Navy, black, gray, brown, and khaki are acceptable colors. Skirts should at least reach the knees when standing. For skirts that fall just below the knee, a slit just above the knee is acceptable. A very long skirt should not be slit to above the knee. Slits in the center-back of a skirt are acceptable as long as they do not extend higher than the back of the knee. 
1.      Trousers: If your job requires you to do physical or manual labor, wearing dress trousers is the more sensible choice.
2.      Jacket: Wear a blouse or sweater. Tailored shirts, blouses, tailored knit sweaters, and sweater sets are all safe business casual choices. The fit should not be tight and no cleavage should be showing. Choose a color that complements your skirt. Unlike formal wear, you are free to inject some color and variety into your ensemble. Bright colors are acceptable. Cotton, silk, and blends are appropriate fabrics. Avoid wearing velvet or shimmery fabric that you would wear to a party.

E.      Choosing Business Outfit Accessories: Learn how to accessorize. You’ll get a lot more use out of basic items if you can change your look by wearing a scarf or changing earrings. It’ll also keep you from getting bored with your wardrobe.
For guys, note the following:
1.      Have restraint when choosing accessories and customizing your male look. It's normal to want to show off a nice watch or tie you have recently bought, but be judicial in what you wear to work. Wear a conservative watch. Even if you can afford an expensive, shiny gold watch with diamonds in it, at work is not the right place to display it.
2.      Remove any piercings you may have. Earrings are generally viewed as inappropriate, especially in conservative industries.
3.      Use either a briefcase or business bag to carry your items in. You do not have to spend obscene amounts of money for a proper carrying case. Just make sure your bag looks like it belongs in a professional setting (no backpack).

For ladies, have this in mind:
1.      Try not to be too trendy or showy when customizing your female look. Remember that you are not at a fashion show, you are at your place of work.
2.      Do not wear copious amounts of make-up. For a polished look, wearing some make-up is better than wearing none, but wearing too much make-up looks trashy and unprofessional.
3.      If you choose to wear jewelry, be sure that it is conservative and tasteful (No anklets or choker necklaces!) Opt for studs instead of long, dangling earrings. Avoid wearing earrings that are especially bright or colorful. Only wear piercings in earlobes rather than in higher parts of the ear or on other parts of your body.
4.      Use a business like tote-bag to carry documents and other items. If you also carry a purse, keep it small and simple so as to avoid carrying two large bags. If necessary, you can put your purse in your tote bag.
5.      Remove piercings that are not in your ears. Cover up any tattoos you may have as these can quickly become distractions and can sometimes offend customers or coworkers.
6.      Not wearing cologne or perfume is the safest choice. If you do decide to wear cologne or perfume, be cautious when applying it. Too potent a scent can not only become a distraction, but an annoyance.
7.      Scarves, hats, and other optional clothing should be conservative and high quality. Do not wear clothing that is brightly colored or that you badly knitted yourself.

Remember, when you don't fit in, you're not as accepted and welcomed.
Lastly, here are some tips for you all:
1. Understand what's appropriate in your industry: Everyone draws their lines differently. For example, you may be able to wear shorts, but not cut-offs. If your company has a dress code, follow it.
2. Make sure your clothes fit: It may sound obvious, but many get it wrong. If your clothes are too big or too small, they are not going to look good. Ensuring a proper fit applies to everything you are wearing including your tie!
3. Wear glasses that fit: Make sure your glasses fit properly and aren't sliding down your nose. You don't want to be playing with them all the time, this can be distracting.
4. Pay attention to your hair: Never leave your house with wet hair. It makes you look like you don't have your life together, which translates to not having your career together. Wear your hair in a reasonable fashion. If you have really long hair, be sure to put it in a bun or ponytail so that it does not look messy; if its short or lowcut, use the comb properly to avoid making it look bushy. Avoid dying your hair extreme colors or styling it in overly elaborate ways as this will look distracting and unprofessional.
5. Pay attention to your bag: You don't want your personal things jutting out of your purse or briefcase. Keep your bag clean on the inside, especially if it doesn't have a zipper, which allows others to catch a glimpse inside from time to time.
6. Keep your fingernails at a reasonable length. Avoid using false nails, especially ones that are excessively long. Paint your nails a consistent color that matches your outfit. Do not paint them unusual colors or paint alternate colors on each nail.
7. Remember to present yourself in a professional manner. You do not want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
8. Remember that your attire will depend largely on the context. If you work in a business casual environment but are attending a work related event/function, you may have to dress more formally than you normally would.
9. Know that some professional settings allow business casual attire. For example, teachers are not always required to wear a suit and tie, yet they are skilled professionals who constantly interact with students and faculty.
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