You’ve been in school for at least the last 4 years, working hard to get that degree that will certify you as a professional in your field of study. Now that you’ve graduated, you’re ready to dive in and start a career in your field. You send out your resume and cover letter to different companies and organizations and go on countless interviews. While you’re there, you notice that other people working in those offices are dressed a little bit differently than you are. “What, you mean people DON’T wear sweatshirts and Chuck Taylor’s to work”? One day, you get a call back from one of your top places of interest and they offer you a position. You’re awesome! They want you and were impressed by your qualifications in the interview. Your first day is next week and you’re stoked.
You remember that no one in the office was wearing sneakers, and your new boss on the phone mentioned that the attire and dress code for the office was “Business Casual”. Casual, you can do that, but what’s Business Casual mean? You call your parents in a frantic rage and they help you buy dress socks and matching loafers to go with your new turquoise Hawaiian tie. Your dad lets you borrow a suit jacket he wore to your aunt’s wedding 20 years ago, and your mom buttons your shirt up to your nose. You walk in the office feeling confident, and awkwardly overdressed. Does this situation sound familiar? Keep reading.
The dress code for your office will vary depending on where you work. If you’re in the medical field, ie, working as a dental hygienist, nurse, or serving as a receptionist at a medical practice, your attire may be to wear scrubs and closed shoes to work every day. Those can be found at specialty stores that sell scrubs solely for those careers. If you’re working at a fast food chain location or restaurant, you may be required to wear a uniform provided by the company. If you’re working construction or wiring, you may be required to wear polo’s and slacks with boots and helmets for safety purposes. For office jobs, the attire really depends on the individual company. You may be required to wear nice business slacks and professional clothing Mon-Thursday and a nice casual outfit on Fridays. You may have to wear slacks and button ups all five days. Ladies may not be allowed to wear skirts or shorts, with exceptions to skirts that hit below the knee. If you find a laid back (but professional) office, you may be able to wear jeans to work and still keep a polished appearance. Across the board no-no’s for work apparel are anything offensive, revealing, gang related, or harmful or distracting to other employees. These can be anything such as do-rags, bandanas, ripped clothing, shirts with printed messages, short skirts or shorts, or anything with negative hints to religion or even politics. Also included are any garments of clothing that can be unsafe to you, your customers or coworkers. Wearing open toed shoes on a construction site, for example. The working environment should be safe and comfortable for all, allowing all employees to be safe from judgment and any clothing that may make them feel offended or uncomfortable.
As far as your sneakers and sweatshirt go, save those for when you get off of work or on the weekends. Just because you have a “big-kid” job doesn’t mean you can’t still dress comfortably when you aren’t in the office or lounging around at home. Remember that you want to be taken seriously, and to be taken seriously you need to look the part. It will make you feel good to dress professionally every day, and give you that extra shimmer of polish to make a good impression at work. If you aren’t sure of where you can buy work attire, there are some great stores in your local mall or even in department stores. If you’re strapped for cash, you can even try finding some vintage items at a thrift store or Good Will. Put your own spin on them and still make a unique statement while dressing professionally at work. You may want to leave the Hawaiian tie at home, though.