Navigating the dress code for where you work, or are interviewing can be tricky. And believe us when we say, even when there is no official Dress Code, there is an unofficial one that’s even trickier than anything written out in an employee manual.
1. Know the uniform.
Before you go on the first interview get a sense of the company. Go online and see what you can find out about the company’s dress code with pictures of employees and employee events. Some places are very obvious: banks and large offices will have a “professional” dress code (suits for men, dresses or pants-suits for women, understated jewelry, etc.). Startup tech and interactive companies are much more casual. They will appreciate an unusual look.
Other offices and work places are not so clear. If you’re really not sure, check with a trusted mentor. When you walk in the door, you want to be in the ballpark.
2. Dress one step up.
Once you have a sense of the company, dress one step up. If you’re going for a job at a conservative firm, make sure you have little or no jewelry at all. Have your hair really understated. Wear your best suit. If you’re going for tech, wear black, not blue, jeans. And always have on a good pair of shoes. If you’re applying for Home Depot, iron your shirt and tuck it in. Small stuff, but it plays really, really well.
3. Wear it well.
Make sure you, and your clothes, are clean, neat and in their best shape. Iron clothes that need ironing, like shirts, light jackets, dresses. If it’s stained, don’t wear it. Make sure your nails are neat (you don’t need a manicure, just make sure your nails are clean and trimmed). And did we mention shoes? If you can only afford one nice thing, make it a good pair of shoes.
4. Finally, let your clothes help tell your story.
The last thing you want an interviewer or a new boss to focus on in a negative way is your clothes. If your clothes or your hair are making a statement, make it the right one – yours.