Dress like a Pro: Basics for Men and Women
It’s all in the Details
Maintaining a proper dress code at work is crucial if you want to be taken seriously among your peers and supervisors. Depending on the industry, you may be required to wear uniforms, formal business attire, or casual wear, but there are certain details that always deserve attention, regardless of the formality of the industry.
Projecting professionalism is about more than wearing a tie and covering your cleavage. Every detail of your image says something about you and how seriously you take your work.
Here is a list of not-so-ordinary basics to maintaining a clean and polished image:
- Never come to work with wet hair.
- Diamonds and pearls are a safe jewelry option for women.
- Men should polish their shoes (just the tips if you are short on time), and women should wear closed-toed shoes.
- Ensure your nails are clean and cut to a proper length, allowing you to complete common tasks like typing or opening mail without trouble.
- Your clothes should be wrinkle-free with no visible stains, bleach spots or holes.
- Make sure your pants are not too long, or too short.
- Use a lint brush to remove all the dog hair from your clothing.
- Bring an umbrella so you don’t have to arrive at work soaking wet should the weather change.
- Does your breath stink? Carry breath mints if necessary.
- Did you just eat something that could be stuck in your teeth? A quick check in the mirror will help you check for any faux pas.
Other factors include wearing a wedding band (or engagement ring) and growing facial hair. For most people, wearing wedding jewelry or growing a moustache or beard are so much a part of who they are that they don’t consider that it might be inappropriate for work. Many state and government agencies prohibit facial hair and jobs with certain risk factors, such as probation officers, advise women and men against wearing their wedding bands.
Many people use the color or style of their clothing as a way to express their individuality. While color is a great way to express your personal style, there is a time and place to express who you are, and work might not be the ideal setting.
Keep your wardrobe simple. Neutral colors are best, and you can add pops of color as you wish. Check out the list below to learn what colors say about the person wearing them:
- Black – leadership, authority, person in charge
- Gray – rational, systematic, responsible
- Blue – reliable, authentic, team player
- White – organized, tranquil, coordinated
- Brown – faithful, honorable, approachable
- Green – productive
- Red – friendly, fierce, outgoing
- Yellow – cheerful, energized
- Purple – ambitious, motivated
- Pink – delicate
If you are interviewing for a new job professionals advise sticking with black, gray, navy, white and brown – neutral colors. If you can’t stand the thought of not having a little color in your attire, try adding a colorful belt, hair clip or scarf.
Below is a list of popular industries and their typical dress code.
- Medical – Doctors, nurses and surgeons are typically required to wear scrubs with their hair pulled back.
- Legal – The legal industry is still largely formal. When in court, a suit is required and men must wear a tie. On office days similar attire is necessary, but the jacket is not required.
- Restaurant – The most common attire for servers, wait staff and bartenders is all black. Some places specialize in showing off certain aspects of the staff. In those instances the facility will provide a costume or required clothing.
- Design – Creative work environments tend to be more laid back. Often, design studios and advertising agencies permit jeans and a formal top.
- Law Enforcement – Policemen and women, firefighters and other first responders are required to wear a specific uniform provided by the agency.
- Business – The proper clothing will vary from company to company. In order to avoid looking like a slob, always dress on the formal side.
- Education – Educators of the young and old are always on the go. Typically business casual attire is appropriate. It is especially important if you work with younger children to ensure your outfit is in no way provocative.
As a safe rule of thumb, you should approach every office as if it is a formal working environment. It is always better to err on the side of dressing up than dressing down. Also, be sure to remember the little details – they make all the difference in projecting a polished professional image
- How to Dress For your Job Interview, by theundercoverrecruiter.com
- A Formal Professional Dress Code, by Susan M. Heathfield
- How to Dress Professionally when Casual Dress is your Norm, by Dawn
- How to Dress Like a Professional Woman, by Nicky LaMarco
- Professional Dress, by University of Richmond
- Professional Dress for Men and Women, by OU Career Services
- How to Dress for Success and Get the Job You Desire, by Brian Tracy
- You’re Wearing It Wrong: Dress for Success Women’s Edition (workshop), by Career and Professional Development Center
- How to Dress for Success at Work, by Forbes
- Men’s Formal Fashion Advice : A Guide to Traditional Suits for Men, by ehowbeauty
- 5 Steps to Professional Presence: How to Project Confidence, Competence, and Credibility at Work, by Susan Bixler and Lisa Scherrer Dugan
- Dress for Success: A Step-by-Step Guide to Looking Polished and Professional at Work, by Molly Gotham
- Style Bible: What to Wear to Work, by Lauren A. Rothman