What To Wear To Work

(and why appearances should never be deceptive)

What to wear to work can be a tricky question for many in today’s relaxed atmosphere. Many companies don’t have a strict dress code and it’s then natural that some employees feel it isn’t important what they wear to work.


However, shrewd business people and ambitious workers know the importance of dressing for the job they want. Usually for interviews and induction periods, people make a real effort. They wear smart, ironed clothing, neat hair, shiny shoes and women often wear make-up. Those who want to make their lives at work easy and get promoted quickly need to understand the importance of keeping up appearances. It’s true that they may not be suited and booted every day but clothing and appearance sends out many messages and the wise employee uses this to their advantage.


What messages are being sent out?

If a person turns up to work in skinny, washed out jeans, scruffy t-shirt and trainers, he may be wanting to put in a really hard days work but his clothes are saying, “I’m in weekend mode, I’m relaxing, I’m having a lazy day.” This isn’t the person his boss thought he was hiring when he took him on. It doesn’t take much more effort to dress in smart tailored jeans or chinos, an ironed shirt and a pair of shoes but the effect is hugely different. It gives the impression of being well organised, hardworking, respectful and conscientious. He’s saying he’s ready for work as he walks through the door.


Similarly, the woman who wore make-up and smart clothing for her interview but turns up to work everyday in jeans and a bare face is almost telling her boss that she doesn’t care about her job anymore.

A uniform even if there isn’t one

So, in relaxed work environments, it is important to consider what you wear even if a dress code isn’t enforced. Create a simple and easy uniform for yourself.


Smart casual shirts or polo shirts

Chinos or smart jeans

Jacket or coat that isn’t a shabby anorak

Loafers or casual shoes


Good grooming


Skirts or trousers

Blouses or stretchy work tops


Jacket, cardigan or coat

Appropriate shoes

Simple, appropriate make-up

One piece of appropriate jewellery

By keeping your work clothes and weekend clothing different, you will feel more like work when you’re there and will send out all the right messages to your superiors, your colleagues and your clients. They will automatically get the impression that you want to do your best for them, even on days that you may feel a little sluggish. Then on weekends, you’ll feel more relaxed and like you’ve “clocked off” not like it’s just another day.

What about Tattoos and Piercings?

Right now tattoos are very popular and many people are proud of their tattoos and their meaning to them. A tattoo can help you show your personality and if you’re in a very creative job, you may have it on show. But as a general rule, in an office environment or school or church or wherever you work, they can give off the message that you’re a bit of a rebel. It’s important to remember that when you’re at work, it’s not usually about you, it’s about the company you work for and the image they want you to project. Subtle piercings can be fine but if you have lots of metal hanging out of your face, you have to ask yourself what that’s saying in a corporate environment and how it will hinder your promotion.

Appearances Are Important

I know that for many, I will seem like a complete killjoy for even writing this article! They will say that appearances aren’t important and it is the quality of their work that matters. Of course, the quality of your work is always important. You can’t go into work looking like the bees knees, sit there all day doing nothing and expect to get a pat on the back. But appearances are important if you want to get ahead faster and you don’t want to be constantly mis-judged. Send out the messages that make your life easier and remember, you will never be judged badly for being over-dressed.


If you’d like more help with what to wear for work, I can help you find the perfect colours and styles for you and your role. Get in touch to book your consultation.

If you are an employer who has an inappropriately dressed workforce, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can help with professional development courses.

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