Decoding the Dress Code

Personal grooming and dress reflects who you are, and people notice what you wear.  Dress like a slob and people will perceive you as a snob, dress well, and people will think you’re well put together, even if you’re really not.  Someone once told me to dress for the job I want, not for the job I have.  Well, I really want to be wildlife photographer, but I’m not going into the office with a sweet looking safari hat and camera getup.

Let’s be honest here, the best way to decode the dress code is to follow the company dress code policy.  It’s common sense.  It’s better to dress up a bit than to dress down. For some reason, many people think the dress code is up for interpretation.

There are usually three dress code tiers:

  • Business Professional.  Doesn’t qualify for the majority of us, but if you work in an environment where everyone wears formal business attire, look for something that can add a tad of individualism, such as a nice pair of dress shoes, or light jewelry.  Custom fit clothing is also a great way to go.
  • Business Casual.  There are still varying levels of what business casual constitutes.  Usually, there are summer business casual guidelines, and those to follow for the rest of the year.
  • Casual/Casual Fridays. This does not mean to arrive to work with sweatpants and a hoodie or in your lazy Sunday outfit.  You still need to look presentable, groomed, and neat.  I did this one time, going to work in a hoodie.  I got chewed out good.  I blame my youth and ignorance.

Some General Tips                         

  • Wear clothes that fit well and not super tight that when you bend over, the seams split.
  • Wear clothes that are appropriate for your age.
  • Groom.  Enough said.  This does not mean searching for lice in your coworker’s hair.
  • Don’t wear outdated fashion, unless they are back in style.
  • Don’t reveal too much skin. That means less leg and less cleavage for the ladies, and less chest hair for the men, or lack thereof.
  • Don’t wear wrinkly clothing.  It’s not exactly flattering if you look like a crumpled piece of paper walking around the office.   Ironing sucks, and it’s an especially painful chore to do in the morning, so get your clothes ready the night before work.
  • Dark denim is recommended over light colored denim.  No holes or tattered bottoms.
  • Keep those shoes in good shape and clean.
  • Keep flashy colors to a minimum.  People will wonder why there is a hi-lighter marker walking around the office.
  • Timeless styles are always a good option.
  • There’s no need to spend exuberant amount money on designer brand name clothes, people in the office are most likely not going to ask to see the tag.  Just look neat and professional.

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