Choosing the right outfit

Picture of rack of clothes
By Alex Burden, Senior Digital Editor

20 June 2016

It’s important to dress well for work to make a good impression on colleagues, clients, and anyone you can potentially network with; it’s also believed to help establish a mind-set for the day (especially helpful for those who work at home).  

Some businesses and organisations have an established dress code with essential do’s and don’ts, although for the most part they will follow very similar rules: no shorts (or no short sleeves), no sports clothes, no revealing clothing, and so on.

Businesses will be wise to avoid the 44-page style manual created by a certain financial services company that instructed employees to wear lotion after a hot shower, don a flight-attendant style necktie if you were female, and a general blanket ban on garlic. As much as it would be amusing to witness an entire financial services organisation seemingly staffed by cabin crew, employees generally have a good idea of what they should wear.  

Some examples of workwear on high street websites suggests low cut tops, overly-patterned shirts and micro-skirts will be suitable for the office (!), but you’re best to stick to durable, smart cuts that reflect your own personal style as well the required tone of the business. 

There’s no use pouring yourself into an ill-fitting suit and unflattering coordinates – you want to be comfortable and look the part, so don’t rely on latest season suggestions by clothing shops. Investing in good-quality, ‘timeless’ pieces is always recommended.

Get simple workwear staples that can be mixed and matched with other clothing in a streamlined way – in reality you don’t want to spend hours coordinating your workwear each day, so identify your work wardrobe and stick to it. 

The less time you fret on whether your shoes match your top, the more time you have for commute, gym, and work. Finding something simple that you can add accessories to will add a new level of simplicity to your life: you could have three go-to outfits and a thousand variations of shoes, ties, belts to present a polished image.

The MoneyCrashers site has produced a quick guide on ’What to Wear to Work – Tips for 4 Types of Office Dress Code Policies’ that gives pointers on ways to effectively nail business dress according to your office style.  

Avoid noise-producing clothes: those trousers that make a ‘whip zip’ noise every time the fabric touches, or the shoe with a hole in the bottom that sounds like you’re stepping on a deflating paddling pool whenever you walk to the printer. 

It’s also a good idea to avoid ’too fashionable’ shoes: some politicians have been cutting the carpet with quirky, latest designs, and it’s amazing how much time the media can focus on sartorial choices rather than policies. There’s nothing wrong with dressing well, but not to the point of distraction, especially if that negatively impacts you.

Check out some examples of bookmark-able places to source your next work outfit across a range of budgets; find your style and own it! 

ICAS has no affiliation to the below vendors. 

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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