The New Rules of Office Dressing

the new rules of office dressing

Photo from @YoungerTV

We’ve all heard the old adage, “dress for the job you want…” but how do we do that in 2016? Striking a balance between looking good and feeling good yet still remaining professional and fashionable is not easy. “Getting dressed for work is tricky,” says Levo CEO Caroline Ghosn to Glamour Magazine. “Because of diminishing boundaries and an individuality-embracing culture is taking over, the idea of what success looks like is becoming less clear-cut.”

So whether your first day is tomorrow, you’ve got a new promotion, or you’re showing up for the 1,272 day, here are some of our new go to tips when it comes to dressing for work.

Company Culture is Key

Dressing in 2016 now includes creating and cultivating your personal brand, but “don’t be duped by the Instagram-approved message of ‘doing you’ 24/7” says Glamour Magazine, especially if “you” is a mesh crop top wearing Gothic.

A great general rule? Anything requiring special undergarments is a no-no at the office. A good tip Glamour offers is to take a look at the company culture and imagine how a character in a movie would dress. (Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada anyone?) “Finding a blend between your identity and that cultural image is the sweet spot.”

Nail the Interview

Getting the dress code right at the interview is key. Toni Thompson of Conde Nast sites a study saying people make judgements of you within 14 seconds of meeting you. Your look shows how prepared and confident you are. “People who take the time to pull themselves together from head to toe do better on the job,” she says.

Don’t forget to do your homework though. Ask your recruiter for advice on the company dress code and atmosphere as well as checking out sites like Glassdoor and Instagram for photos of current employees to get an idea of company culture. Heading to a corporate environment? Blue or Black suits are a sure bet, where sweaters and slacks can work in a more relaxed environment.

Freelance or Full-time?

How often you’re in the office is another key point to consider. If you work offsite or rarely sit in meetings and one pops up, step it up a notch. Being an offsite employee can be scary for some traditional companies. You’re an anomaly, so put higher ups at ease by dressing a bit more traditionally or formally than the rest of the office usually does. It will make you appear capable, stable, and in control. Office employees usually wear jeans and sweaters? Pop on a pair of slacks and heels to exude confidence.

Dress Like the Boss

How to Dress For WorkThe easiest way to dress for success? See what your boss is wearing and then make it work for you. There’s a concept in cognitive behavioral therapy called “Act As If.” Basically, it means act as if you are what you want to become says Jennifer Baumgartner, Psy.D and author of You are What You Wear. “If you want a promotion, dress as if you already have it.”

Don’t forget to layer up as well! It’s good practice to always have a jacket with you. You never know who you might end up meeting. If the CEO of your company comes to lunch unexpectedly, you’ll want a nice blazer to throw on, never mind fluctuating office temperatures.

Accessorize Correctly

Especially if you’re headed to an interview, carefully consider your whole look. Does you bag match your coat? Will your bracelets get caught up in your mouse?¬† Details like a sharp resume case or iPad cover count too. Handbags are another way to prove you’ve got it together. “They’re like business cards for women” says Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Director Roopal Patel. What style bag you carry says a lot about you.

Regardless of your profession, don’t make casual Friday the downfall of the dress code.

Here are some things you should steer clear of:

  • Cutoffs
  • Flipflops
  • Hats
  • Sneakers
  • Fishnets
  • Cleavage
  • Ripped Jeans
  • Offensive T-Shirts

Need More Tips?

Check out Business Insider’s visual guide to dressing for work here. Don’t forget to ask Recruiters, Hiring Managers, or co-workers if you’re not sure what to wear as well. The key is finding a fit between fashionable and functional, personality and profession.

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