Deciding what to wear is always hard for women. Not only do we want to look stylish and cool, we also want to feel comfortable in what we are wearing. Add in our indecisive nature and the tendency to believe we have “NOTHING TO WEAR!” and the problem just gets worse. Needless to say, choosing the perfect outfit for the first day of our new job may top the charts when it comes to difficult fashion decisions (maybe right behind a certain all-white-dress decision).
Don’t panic and go buy an entire new wardrobe before Monday at 8 a.m., because I've got you covered. Remember, you've passed the interview, the second panel interview, and the meeting with the bigwigs. The good news is that you have already impressed them. Most likely, you would not have landed this job without an appropriate and professional look in your interview. So, really, the first day is a piece of cake! Right?
The first thing to do is ask your superior—BEFORE you start—what the dress code is. This is a must. You need to know what is expected of employees when it comes to apparel. Even ask about Fridays: casual, or not? Also, keep in mind what industry you are in. Are you working in an office or a nontraditional space? Is there equipment, or are dangerous surfaces nearby? Those may require a specific safety or nonslip shoe. Or maybe the president HATES jeans. You need to know these things.
Most companies, though, will simply tell you “business professional” or “business casual,” so here are some ways to help you distinguish between the two.
"Business professional" means a suit. Stock up on suit pants, jackets, pencil skirts, and sheath dresses. You can just wear a matching suit with a blouse underneath all the time—but I like to mix and match. You can even wear a nice blazer with a skirt, in my opinion. I tend to gravitate toward neutrals and saturated colors in general, but you don’t need to be afraid of pattern and color, as long as it’s sleek and sophisticated. You definitely don’t have to be in a boring black suit every day. Find ways to showcase your own style, like this gorgeous green printed blazer or a bedazzled pink blouse. And as always, rock some killer shoes.
"Business casual" allows you to get away with more color and pattern. It’s more relaxed, so you don’t have to go super chic. Try fun printed dresses, blouses paired with dress slacks, and again, great shoes. Wedges and flats are your friends—especially for those of you who have to walk a lot during the day. Also always remember that work attire needs to be appropriate. Shoulders shouldn’t be exposed, so always throw on a cardigan or jacket if you just have a shell top underneath. Also, too much foot is never good. Peep toes are really the farthest you want to go with foot exposure.
If you are one of the lucky ones who gets to experience the bliss that is casual Friday, know this: "Casual Friday" does NOT mean the attire you wear lounging on the couch on the weekends. No sweat pants, sweatshirts, or ratty jeans. I like to call it “snappy casual.” You can wear jeans, but make sure they are of good cut and quality. Use this time to play with fun, casual looks with layering and accessories. Yes, you should be extra comfortable on this day, but keep it classy! You are still in a professional environment. Never forget that.
And finally the most important rule of all, that I know you already know. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It’s so true. It doesn’t matter if you are the administrative assistant or the CEO of the company: If the dress code is business professional, rock that look HARD every day. Don’t get caught up if other people are slacking and cutting corners. Dress like you are important, and others will treat you as such.
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