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Infographic: Navigating Workplace Dress Codes

It’s no secret that first impressions are powerful. Research has proven that people form opinions of others quickly by their appearance alone. In less than one minute, people formulate assumptions of others by their nonverbal behaviors. In an interview this only raises the stakes and increases the pressure to present your very best self.

Office culture and dress codes can feel as though you are navigating a minefield. In many cases we wonder what defines business formal to business casual? Decades ago professional attire was far more uniformed. Today, there are many more creative jobs, trendy start-ups, shared work spaces, and a rise of of digital offices.

All complicating the question of what attire fits most appropriately for where. Of course, dress codes will vary across cities, positions, fields and cultures. As one fully adapts to a company this question fades and we find an answer interpersonally.

However, for an interviewee, the uncertainty of what to wear can seem daunting. Beyond an employee handbook, which you often receive after accepting an offer letter, you have nothing to define the company dress code to prepare yourself for interview day. If only we would waste less time worrying about what to wear and more on preparing ourselves to land the position.

How to gain insights on a company’s dress code before you interview

  • Observations: When in office for a tour or to drop off a resume, Take note of the outfits that others who are currently employed are wearing. Is there a culture of tee-shirts and sneakers or are polished shoes and ties more the norm?
  • Go digital: Social profiles can often give you an inside feel to company culture and office attire. The headshots of employees on the webpage of an employer are often far more formal than the true office atmosphere.
  • Make a visit: Take a walk around the the general area. Watch people pass through the lobby or employee parking lot to gain insights on the work-crowd.
  • Be resourceful: If you know someone already employed at the company, ask them what most people wear to work.

Considering the office dress code should be a mindful step in your interview preparation process, although this is often overlooked. While in an office for a tour, dropping off a resume or for rounds of interviews be sure to get a sense for what others are wearing.  That said, no matter how formal or informal an interview, your shoes should be clean and clothes should fit well. Confidence is your most powerful accessory. As well as looking for people with the right skill set, your potential employer will also notice your positive energy (your appearance should be that suit of armor you need to give off that vibe).

Remember, dress codes are a subjective topic. Here are the most commonly seen:

  • Business formal
  • Business professional
  • Business casual
  • Small business casual
  • Creative

The infographic below gives some examples of what clothing fits into each category, so you can show up to your interview or first day of work feeling confident.

infographic

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About the Author T.M. Lewin

T.M.Lewin opened in Jermyn Street in 1898, becoming widely known for the coat shirt, the first shirt to feature buttons down the whole front length of the garment. Fashions have changed since 1898, but the button-up shirt has remained a staple in professionalism. As experts in dressing smart, T.M.Lewin has crafted this guide to help professionals navigate what to wear to work and when. With a wide range of office-ready menswear, an unrivalled selection of dress shirts and fashion-forward womenswear, T.M.Lewin can have you feeling confident in your professional journey.