This is a guest post by Vicky Oliver.

Every day is Casual Day. It’s true, businesses in many places throughout the country have relaxed their wardrobe policies. Employees can get away with more casual wear in several business sectors. At the same time, it’s a good idea to take a more modest approach, especially in the early stages of a new position.

Employers are leery of any lack of professionalism or any signal that a new hire isn’t up to the task. In fact, more than half of business owners say they can’t find qualified applicants. Showing up to work looking like you’re ready for a game of Frisbee rather than a meeting with clients will do nothing to allay your employer’s concerns over your abilities.

It’s best to first become versed in the stated or unstated dress code of the industry in which you’ve landed and to dress accordingly. Most employers frown on sloppy attire. Regardless of your intelligence, initiative, or interesting ideas, your boss will be less likely to take you seriously if you’re inappropriately dressed.

Look around you. Take note of which coworkers are better dressed and try to emulate their style. Not only will the appropriate choice of attire help you look the part of a qualified professional, it will help you feel more professional.

dress code

Heed these office fashion tips to keep up your professional appearance:


1. Don’t dress like you’re going clubbing.

Tight-fitting, skin-bearing and see-through clothing will definitely make the wrong statement and your boss will question your credibility and sense of discretion. It goes without saying — but I’ll say it — that halter tops, spaghetti straps and showing cleavage exposes you as an amateur. Don’t cede your spot when it comes to taking out clients. Dress the part.


2. Don’t eschew the shoes.

Shoes make an outfit. Or, conversely, a lack of attention to worn, scuffed shoes can ruin your overall look. When shopping for shoes for work, buy the best brand you can afford — and invest in a canister of shoe polish to extend their life even more. When the heels start to show wear and tear, don’t put off shopping for a new pair. In case you’re tempted to try it, tottering around in stilettos is frowned upon in most professional settings.


3. Beware of fashion clash.

Remember mismatch day in middle school? One popular version was wearing shorts on the bottom and a coat and tie on the top. Or, combining whacky colors and patterns into a dizzying hodgepodge. At work, even more subtle combinations — like a sports watch with a suit, or leggings under a dress – can be a blatant faux pas. You may like making a statement with out-there clothing combinations, but you’ll need to save your personal fashion preferences for the weekend.


4. Do sweat the small stuff.

That is, don’t show up in wrinkled or sweat-stained clothing. If you want others to take you seriously, shirts should be crisp and collars unfrayed. Check for any stray pet hairs clinging to your cuffs. Always keep fingernails manicured and eyebrows plucked. Distinguish yourself through your impeccable grooming.


5. Showing off your tats.

Remember when your mother warned you, back in your teens, that someday you’d regret getting that Hello Kitty tattoo where your future boss could see it? I hope you listened to her. Wherever you have tattoos, whether it’s at your neckline, forearm, or around your ankle, choose clothing that covers them. While you’re at it, take out your eyebrow, nose, and lip rings.

In general, you need to stay away from clothing worn for a dance club, a work out, a day at the beach or a sports event when choosing what to wear for work. Once you’ve been in the job several months and they’ve discovered that you’re an indispensible asset, decide then whether it’s safe to relax your more formal standard.


About the Guest Post Author:

Vicky OliverVicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including, Live Like a Millionaire (Without Having to Be One) (Skyhorse, 2015), 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers, and Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks 2008). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media target, having made over 901 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets.

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