Dressing for Your First Day at Work: A Guide for Women
Congratulations on landing that job offer you’ve been waiting for! Now that all the anxiety surrounding interviews fades away, it’s time to focus on giving your best at your new workplace. That being said, whether you’re just starting your career or are a veteran, joining a new company does give you butterflies.
Your first day at work is sure to be fun and exciting, but you need to consider the fact that people are going to be observing you closely and judging you! Don’t start panicking just yet; after all, you’ve been selected because you possess the required skills for the job. But that alone isn’t going to take you places! To make a solid first impression, you also need to dress the part.
Dressing for office can be confusing for quite a lot of women, as there’s a lot of gray area with regards to what’s appropriate and what’s not as work wear. Add to that the stress of looking your best on your first day at work, and you could easily lose your mind!
Help is at hand, so just relax. We’ve put together this guide that is sure to help you breeze through dressing for your first day at work.
Stick to the Degree of Formality
Dressing appropriately for work starts with sticking to the dress code that’s followed in your office. Since you’re yet to start work, you probably don’t know the rules. But you can’t take chances on your first day- overdressed can be overlooked, underdressed will be etched in memory forever!
Try to think of the time you appeared for the interview- how were the employees and HR personnel dressed? Were they dressed to the nines or did you get a casual vibe? If you’re unable to tell, you might want to clarify with the HR department.
In general, your office wear will fall under business professional, business casual, or casual. Consider your industry type and you’ll be able to make out how you should be dressed for work.
Understand Dressing StylesUnderstand Dressing Styles
All industry types have a set of rules pertaining to work wear. While these rules differ depending on company culture and local traditions, by and large, dress code guidelines remain the same.
Here is an overview for you to understand dressing styles better.
The right business attire helps convey credibility and competence, and reflect your personality without going overboard. Think of business professional attire as the most formal clothes you can wear to work, and you’ll know what to put on!
Business suits can be considered the building blocks of business professional attire. You can wear a traditional pantsuit or a skirt suit along with a buttoned-up shirt, or a tailored dress.
Business casual or smart casual is all about appearing relaxed and sharp at the same time. Don’t confuse yourself; just remember that business casual means ‘no suits’! However, this doesn’t give you the freedom to wear jeans and t-shirts.
Tailored pants and trousers bought separately from suits will form the base of your business casual wardrobe. Go for bootcuts or tapered pants in a variety of fabrics. Pencil and A-line skirts in different colors and fabrics, except denim, paired with appropriate blouses, blazers, scarves, etc. will make you look stylish and work-ready.
Dressing casual for an office environment means projecting a comfortable professional image that does not border on disheveled and unkempt. Also, your clothes should still be work-appropriate. So if you are in two minds about wearing gym wear, beach wear, or party wear to work, DON’T!
Well-fitting jeans, khakis and slacks, t-shirts, blouses, and skirts and dresses paired with shrugs or scarves will be your staples. Layer with cardigans or sweaters according to the weather.
Don’t Overdo Colors and Patterns
Colors and patterns lend a personal touch to your clothes, which is why it is important to choose the right combination of these elements, especially in a work setting. Go for colors you love and look best in, while also paying attention to the current season!
Start your new job by dressing in neutrals like white, black, beige or navy. Add pops of color in the form of jewelry or shoes, but refrain from wearing clothing items that are hot pink, neon green or fluorescent yellow. Mix and match colors; black and white, black and cream, and blue and white are classic combos. Note that mixing more than 2-3 colors will spell chaos, so don’t go overboard.
Solids are the preferred way to start a new job, but if you’re feeling experimental, try your hand at polka dots or stripes. A word of advice: Do NOT show off your animal prints on Day 1. If you must wear a mix of patterns, don’t mix more than two. Mix prints wisely– work around a common color. Also, mix bigger prints with smaller ones, for example, play down broad stripes with a tight checkered pattern.
Stay Away from These Absolute No-Nos
You might not be clear as to what is considered appropriate clothing for your first day at work, but you must be completely aware of what is clearly inappropriate in any office setting, irrespective of company dress code and culture!
Stay away from:
- Ø Tattered clothing that shows signs of wear and tear
- Ø Poorly stitched clothes
- Ø Inferior material
- Ø Clothes with buttons missing or zippers that don’t work
- Ø Clothes with apparent stains and odors
- Ø Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
- Ø Baggy clothes
- Ø Clothes that fit extra tight
- Ø Sheer material
- Ø Tops and dresses that show cleavage
- Ø Extra low-waist pants
- Ø Over-the-top jewelry
Bear in mind that you want to look presentable, but don’t let only your clothes do the talking. You want to be remembered for your contributions to your office, not for that sequinned skirt or larger than life necklace!
Put Your Best Shoe Forward
For starters, wear shoes that are appropriate for your frame. If you are petite, wearing shoes with thick and heavy soles will draw attention to your feet. Conversely, if you have a large frame, wearing delicate shoes will throw off the balance.
Remember that you don’t have to wear high-heeled shoes to look important. If you never wear heels, don’t try it out on your first day at work. Wear a pair of kitten heels to add a bit of height and make you look work-appropriate. Don’t even think of wearing your sneakers or worse, flip-flops!
If you love wearing heels, don’t go all out with stilettos- you don’t want to look like you’re in party mode. Limit your heel length to three inches and you’ll look amazing! Speaking of after-hour parties, avoid wearing metallic colored shoes or ones studded with crystals or studs to work. Peep-toes are also considered inappropriate as work shoes, so lay off them.
Needless to say, your shoes should be in good condition. If they are stained and grubby, you’re not going to make a good impression on anyone. So get them cleaned well before your big day! If your shoes have worn out heels or straps, consider buying a new pair. Do break them in before you wear them to the office. Alternatively, get your old shoes repaired by a cobbler.
Brush on a Bit of Makeup
A light touch of makeup can add to your confidence levels on your first day at work. Nonetheless, if you have zero knowledge of cosmetic products and don’t feel yourself under makeup, don’t try it out on the first day.
Makeup junkies beware! A face full of makeup won’t add to your image. So opt for a light, moisturizing base and a neutral eyeshadow to keep things low-key. Avoid using fake eyelashes, just use a waterproof mascara instead. Use a lip color that goes with your outfit, but favor subtle overbold.
Choose a Complementing Hairstyle
Your new boss, colleagues, and subordinates are going to notice everything about you- even your hair! So make sure your hairstyle strikes a balance between your outfit and makeup. Achieve a final look that is tasteful and polished- pair an edgy outfit and bold makeup with a toned down hairstyle.
If you sport short hair, you only have to style it as you usually do. For longer hair, think of styling it sleek with a side or middle part. If you have waves or curls, make sure they stay put and that you don’t have to keep tucking them behind your ears. You might want to go for a ponytail, a half-up, half down hairstyle, or a loose bun to look chic and sophisticated!
Complete the Look with a Wallet or Handbag
A super-stylish handbag can complete your office look while also making your commute and first day at work a lot easier. Look for a wallet or bag that helps you keep all your stuff organized so you don’t have to waste time looking for important things.
Depending on what you usually carry around, and taking into consideration the essential items mentioned further in this post, choose the right sized wallet and handbag for your first work day. You might be required to carry some documents with you, so either has a separate folder for them or buy a bag that’s large enough to house everything.
Pick a bag that is structured; slouchy bags are for weekends! A cross-shoulder bag will be easy to carry if you have to commute a long distance. If you have the money, invest in a leather bag, or buy a faux leather one till you save up for the real thing. If you are strapped for cash, just buy a neutral colored bag so you can pair it with all your work outfits.
Carry the Essentials
Being fully prepared for the worst can help you stay calm and focused at work! Here’s a list of things to tick off:
- Emergency contact numbers
- A notepad
- A couple of working pens
- Money in small denominations, unless you intend to make a huge purchase
- A debit or credit card, in case you’re invited out for lunch or dinner
- Mobile phone
- Phone charger
- House and car keys
- Breath Mints
- Compact mirror
- Makeup for touching up during the day or elevating the look for a party
- Wet wipes
- Blotting Tissue
- A comb or brush
- Safety pins
- Hairpins and clips
- Sanitary items
- An energy bar or dry snacks to keep you energized
- Packed lunch
Don’t forget your smile!
As your first day at work approaches, you’re sure to feel excited and nervous at the same time. Being prepared in every way can help you stay calm and welcome the big change in your life.
Remember that the right outfit can empower you and help you do your best at work. With this guide, you now know how to go about selecting your Day 1 work outfit. So don’t leave this to the last minute, get your outfit together and gear up for new challenges!