Despite the instruction ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, that is exactly what we do, and how you appear to your colleagues at the office is more important than many people realize. ‘As long as I do my job well, it doesn’t matter what I wear. How I dress is my business.’ Is an argument that misses the point. How you dress for the office is a part of your job, it’s about understanding your role and reflecting that in the way you dress. Since the rise of tech, it’s all become rather more confusing because the popular stereotype for a tech genius is that the more casual/unkempt you are, the more of a genius you must be. Most of us are not tech geniuses though, so it’s perhaps best, for now, to not dress too casually.
In his book ‘A-Z of Style’, Sir Hardy Amies writes: ‘Smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes than their style.’ Whilst style is somewhat important, smartness does certainly overrule. Clean, ironed, casual clothing will always look smarter than crumpled, unwashed formal clothing.
In terms of style, start with what you consider to be a formal outfit and then change one or two pieces for a smart casual appearance. To give an example, take a suit, and change the shirt to a tee, and trousers to chinos.
Ensure that your clothing is well fitted, don’t confuse casual with sloppy. If this is an outfit that you would wear to relax in at home, then it is almost certainly not appropriate for the office.
Well-groomed hair and cared for nails are obviously of crucial importance too.
The Office is not a Catwalk
Unless you work in a fashion house, the office is not the context in which to impress your colleagues with your cutting-edge fashion sense. You are not expressing your personality; you are demonstrating that you have not understood the conventions of your place of work. Understatement and restraint are far more impressive than showy fashion statements.
Understand the conventions of your office
Offices are microcosms and have evolved over time as a result of policy and personality. Do not necessarily rely on the advice of others, it is probably well-intentioned, but it might not be. Look at how other people are dressing and exercise critical judgment. Your clothing should always be a reflection of your role. If your job involves regular meetings with clients, then your clothing is part of the corporate image and you should feel confident that it is sending the right messages about your professionalism and competence.
Accessories are important
Remember, it’s all about restraint, so avoid wearing flamboyant or ostentatiously expensive accessories. A slim, quality watch always looks professional, as does well-coordinated but minimal jewelry.
If you wear glasses, choose something that’s simple and stylish, like a pair of round metal frames. Do not arrive at the office with a carrier bag or a tote that proclaims your latest enthusiasm. A stylish bag, large enough to contain your laptop and paperwork is an essential office tool and an important element in your appearance.
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