Office dress codes are not as straight forward as they used to be. It used to be formal, business casual or casual. Now you see companies with dress codes called smart casual, dressy casual, business, dressy chic and the list goes on if they even have a written dress code. No wonder so many millennials/new grads struggle in understanding what is appropriate to wear to the office.
Something to think about is your new company culture. Remember that personal style can be captured within business dress codes; however, your weekend clothing is not always workday appropriate.
The office in which I work has a ‘smart casual’ dress code for everyday office wear and business casual/business for client meetings. When I walk around the office, lots of people are meeting the dress code standards but many young adults struggle with knowing what’s appropriate as we are a young dynamic company. In general millennials tend to be very cutting edge in fashion; however, some fail to recognize what should just be for weekend/evening wear. I, if anything, tend to veer to the conservative side as I would never want my wardrobe to be considered inappropriate or a hindrance in moving my career to the next level.
Here are a few of my tips for new grads in understanding the dress code at their new company:
- Dress to impress on interview days or your first day. It is always better to be more formally dressed than inappropriate
- Look at your company culture for dress code cues
- Ask HR if there is a formal dress code - then actually follow it!
- Look at what managers 1-2 levels above you are wearing. Dress for the level above you so managers can see you working in a more senior function.
- Jeans are appropriate if your dress code is dressy/smart/insert other adjective here casual. Ensure you pair them a nice top, jacket & shoes. Sneakers are not business appropriate ever!
- For the ladies: Skirts/dresses/longer dress shorts are appropriate but ensure your hem line is past your fingertips & cleavage/skin tight clothing has no place at work – you would be shocked how often this one is broken!
Business or smart casual clothing doesn’t have to be boring! How you combine outfits for the office can be a fun way to start your day. You can still show your unique style through a cool laptop bag, unique jewelry/accessories. Have fun with your dress code but don’t try to be such an individual that you don’t seem to fit in or respect that the office is a place for business.
Remember that first impressions count. Remember that a hallway pass-by is sometimes the closest you come to senior management in your new job – remember to make a great impression & show that you are dressed to impress!