One of the more flexible definitions in office wear is “business casual”. This is because there are so many variables in acceptable clothing for an office environment. So, how do you decide what the new workplace will define as “business casual” when you are told to show up for your new job? It really depends on where you work, and who you work with.
- Pay attention to how people in the office are dressed when you come in for your interview.
- Aim high…you can take off a tie or jacket but it’s harder to amp up your professional look in flip flops. (By the way, flip flops are generally not considered office wear. Really!)
- Wear your interview outfit the first day and ask for the dress code. Many businesses will hand that out with the paperwork to be filled out in training. Some establishments have a more casual dress code for the summer, some have “Casual Fridays,” and it’s better to see it explained in writing/pictures if possible.
- Projecting a professional image is never a bad idea. Dress for the job you hope to get promoted to someday.
- Invest in good quality basics like solid-colored pants, skirts, and jackets. These can be mixed up with several shirts to get a week’s worth of outfits that will be acceptable anywhere. Add the jacket to create a suit for special occasions. Don’t forget good shoes!
- If you are just entering the job market, ask for advice on your wardrobe. Many of the things you already have may work just fine when mixed with those basics.
- It’s OK to add your personality into your office wear, but go slow and pay attention to your environment. That means one touch of individuality per outfit until you know what is expected.
- Know the regional quirks. Cowboy boots in Fort Worth, Texas are part of a formal outfit, but not in Philadelphia.
The majority of jobs are not paying you to express yourself; they are paying you to represent their company. It isn’t hard to go conservative for a bit to get the feel of what your new position’s “business casual” attire actually entails, if you keep that in mind.