Dressing Appropriately For Work: How To Stay Looking Professional

Savvy Tips To Expand Your Fashion Startup-Chispa MagazineFirst impressions are a big deal. We’re all told not to judge a book by its cover, but in many ways it’s psychologically built into us. Certain clothing may put off an employer from hiring you or a client from doing business with you. Even if you don’t have to follow a strict dress code, following some of these unspoken laws could gain you a lot more trust and confidence.

Matching the formality. Overdressing or under-dressing for the occasion can be dangerous. Dress too casual for a formal job such as banking or law, and employers and clients might think you’re not serious about your job. Dress too formal for a casually-dressed job (often creative and art-related jobs), and you might come across too cold and aloof to employers and clients.

There are various levels to formality—this page gives a good rundown of the different levels of attire from casual to boardroom attire. Most employers will tell you the dress code from the onset—if not you should always ask. Be careful not to get too comfortable and start straying from the dress code. An employer will notice if you start losing that tie too often.  

Functionality first, then fashion. Many people want to inject their individuality into their image. In jobs with strict dress codes—either suits or uniforms—this can often lead to accessorizing. However, some accessorizing may be impractical for your job. Bangles and festival wristbands can often be seen as contamination issue in jobs such as kitchen-work and medical care, and can pose a danger of getting caught or snagged in jobs involving machinery. The same applies to long hair that is not tied back, untamed beards and loose clothing. Women should also consider the practicality of long nails and high heels. Lots of typing or intricate handwork may make long nails a nuisance, and high heels could become a pain if you’re having walk around a lot.

Quite often you will be able to find functional clothes that are still somewhat flattering – even for jobs with the strictest and most specific of dress codes. Hi-vis jackets and hard hats now come in multiple deisgns. You can even buy fairly chic lab coats (this site http://www.cherokeeuniforms.com/category/10003/ offers a good example). Respect your uniform, but don’t be afraid to notify your employer if you and other staff members think it’s unnecessarily ugly—a trendier and equally functional uniform might be able to be adopted.

Wear a watch. Some formal businesses will recommend that you always wear a watch. Not only is it a useful time-telling tool (it’s more convenient than having to take your phone out your pocket), but it also gives you the impression of being more organised and time-conscious. In a formal setting, it’s also a great way of personalizing oneself. Some jobs in which you require free wrists for health and safety purposes may prohibit a watch. In any case, you should always wear one to an interview, as it’s something employers will make a positive note of.

Polish your shoes. The state of your shoes is the other most common feature that every employer interviewing you will pick up on. Polishing shoes takes time. An employer will note that you have taken the time that morning to buff up your shoes and will assume that you are someone that takes careful preparation and doesn’t simply roll out of bed, get dressed and leave the house. Other details that can create a good impression include shaving stubble, ironing shirts and properly drying hair. They show you have got up early and prepared yourself thoroughly for work.

Bring an umbrella. There’s nothing worse than coming into work looking like a drowned rat. Those that are prepared stay dry in the rain by bringing an umbrella. Keep one handy on you at all times so that you’re always armed against those surprise showers. You can alternatively wear a jacket with a hood, although this doesn’t quite have the sophistication.

Stay classy. Short skirt hemlines and low crop tops can damage your professionalism. Sex appeal may be a great way of luring in male interest, but is this really the type of interest that’s going to benefit your business. Dress attractively but classy, so that your clients aren’t all lechers.

Similarly, you should try and cover up any tattoos that might give an informal impression. It’s illegal for employers to dismiss you on the grounds of a tattoo, but if that tattoo is crude or overly personal, it should be covered up in order for you to maintain professionalism.

Know your rights. There are times when an employer or client will have no legal grounds to dismiss you based on what you are wearing. As already discussed, discrimination purely based on tattoos is a right to a lawsuit. With the ever increasing number of people with ink, this is gradually becoming more accepted.

The second area in which you should also know our rights is when it comes to religious clothing. This could include a turban, a headscarf or a Christian cross. If you believe your boss or a client does not consider you worthy of the job due to religious wear, you should consider taking that person to court. There are times when it may be impractical for you to wear such clothing—as is the running issue with burqas. Note that you also have the right to abstain from certain religious holidays. If your workplace is having a Christmas jumper day and you do not celebrate Christmas, you don’t not have to take part.

The final time when you should know your rights is when it comes to gender. As already discussed, staying classy is important for professionalism, but some employers may insist you wear a revealing uniform. You are well in your right to refuse to wear such a uniform; you should not be forced to wear solely a skirt or solely trousers. The uniform should apply to both genders and you should not be forced to dress exclusively feminine or masculine.

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Paola Ramirez

Paola Ramirez

Managing Editor at Chispa Magazine
Based out of beautiful and sunny Miami, Paola Ramirez has been involved in the journalism industry for 12 years now. As one of our Managing Editors, she is our go-to-girl for fact-checking and discovering what is new and trending. Her passion of beauty, health, fitness, and fashion is what turns on her "Chispa"!
Paola Ramirez

Latest posts by Paola Ramirez (see all)

Paola Ramirez

Based out of beautiful and sunny Miami, Paola Ramirez has been involved in the journalism industry for 12 years now. As one of our Managing Editors, she is our go-to-girl for fact-checking and discovering what is new and trending. Her passion of beauty, health, fitness, and fashion is what turns on her "Chispa"!