A Guide For Every Dress Code
Your first day at a new job can be nerve wracking enough without throwing in the extra pressure of choosing the perfect outfit. Of course you want to make an impression, but you need it to be the right one. Plus, you really need to focus all your energy on taking notes, remembering where the staff room is, getting to grips with the new software and remembering everyone’s names – not stressing over your outfit or re-adjusting it every five minutes.
That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide on choosing the perfect first day outfit that will impress everyone on the team, without spending hours agonising over your wardrobe beforehand. We’ll also offer some do’s and don’ts of choosing your outfit based on how formal the office dress code is.
Do your research and understand the dress code
Nowadays many businesses are choosing to offer casual dress as a workplace perk, while some still choose to stick with traditional professional dress. That said, in some businesses it can even vary across departments, so you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of the dress code and what will be expected of you.
The interview is your first chance to establish the dress code for the business. If the meeting is held in their offices you’ll be able to get a good look at what everyone is wearing when you arrive. You might also find that the interviewer will outline the dress code to you, alternatively, you could always ask this question at the end of the interview.
However, don’t take for granted that what you see is what you get. Some companies who favour smart dress will also choose to run dress down days or casual Friday’s as a perk to staff, so it’s always a good idea to check with your potential employer. If you don’t get the answers you need during the interview stages, it’s best to get in touch with your future employer before you join and ask them to tell you the dress code. This will help you to avoid any potentially embarrassing faux pas on your first day.
What to wear for smart/professional dress codes
Professional dress was once the norm for any worker and though it’s becoming less common, there are still many workplaces that insist on smart dress. This is particularly true if you’re in customer or client facing roles, where appearance and professionalism are important. But smart dress codes don’t have to be stuffy or uncomfortable. If you’re expected to look the part on your first day, this is what we suggest.
For men, a strong suit is always a classic. You might not always want opt for the full suit, perhaps some days you can forgo the blazer or leave your tie at home, but on your first day it’s a good idea to dress to impress. Remember to iron your shirt and avoid choosing garish or novelty ties, and don’t neglect the footwear! Leather shoes in black or brown are always a win – just make sure they aren’t scuffed or worn out.
For the ladies about to begin their new job smart dress can feel like a bit of a minefield. It’s vital that you keep hemlines in mind and don’t wear anything low cut or revealing. Think stylish and iconic like Audrey Hepburn with a fitted black dress and blazer, or alternatively you could wear a pencil skirt and nice blouse. If dresses and skirts aren’t for you then don’t panic, tailored ankle trousers, a crisp white shirt and a blazer will do the job too.
Pair your outfit with kitten heels (not stilettos or wedges that are going to destroy your ankles after one day) or flat pumps. Again, choose a classic and understated colour like nude or black. You can inject some personality into your outfit with complimenting jewellery.
What to wear for smart/casual dress codes
Smart casual – what does that even mean? Now this one can be tricky as you need to draw the perfect line between being smart and professional, but not looking over dressed – not something you want to be stressing about on your first day at a new job. But fear not, we have the answers!
As a woman you could still choose some fitted ankle trousers, but ditch the blazer and choose a light blouse and cardigan. This adds just the right amount of sophistication to your first day outfit, but won’t leave people questioning whether you’re uptight or just looking to get promoted right away! Alternatively, a smart dress with some tights and pumps would also work, and as the dress code is more casual you can be a bit more playful with your accessories.
For the men about to embark on their first day at a new job, keep it classic but cool with a crisp shirt. You can pair this with some tailored trousers or chinos. As the dress code states smart casual, don’t get bogged down with ties and blazers, instead arrive looking sharp and professional, whilst also coming across as relaxed and ready to learn.
What to wear for a casual dress code
Just because the office dress code is casual, this does not mean you can arrive looking like a slob, or indeed turn up in your pyjamas (unfortunately). Even if the company is pretty relaxed, it’s still a good idea to make sure you look presentable, after all, this is your first day! It’s also vital that you avoid wearing anything that is creased or crinkled from the wash basket, or that is still sporting last weekend’s pizza stains.
If you’re a man, on your first day you should opt for something that says you’re serious and professional, but doesn’t risk you looking too over-dressed. This could mean smart jeans or chinos, paired with a nice polo top, crew neck, shirt or jumper depending on the weather. It’s also important that you choose clean shoes, even if these are trainers. Old, worn and tatty shoes of any kind can give the wrong impression.
As a woman, casual dress codes could mean a cute (but in no way revealing) summer dress, or in the colder months perhaps some floral trousers, pumps and a nice jumper. If dresses aren’t your thing, perhaps some smart jeans (not distressed or ripped), a knitted jumper and some jewellery to complete the look. Again, nothing that is going to be too over the top, but it’s best to avoid slouchy clothes like leggings and oversized hoodies.