‘Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.’ There are those who think that this is a mantra that has had its day. But while it’s true that it’s important to show your personality and individuality in the workplace, that hardly means showing up at work in a hoodie and faded blue jeans every day because that is ‘the real you’.
Put it this way: there are many ways to get yourself noticed at work, but a crappy wardrobe is not what you want to be known for. If you look like you could not care less, bosses could take that as an attitude that is also reflected in your performance.
If you have ever stood taller and straighter when dressed smartly, you will know that clothes can affect confidence, which in turn affects things like negotiation and presentation skills. That’s not to mention how you will be taken more seriously when you are well put-together. It’s not old school to care about how you present yourself to the world, it’s simply good manners.
Here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to dressing for success.
Suss out the dress code
Don’t be the guy with the wrinkled shirts who sets the low bar in the office. At the same time, you want to look smart but you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. Running around in a sharp suit when you report to a guy who shows up in jeans and sneakers every day is just asking to be blacklisted. You don’t really want to marked as gunning for his job — even if you are.
A simple rule of thumb: dress such that you can called up for a meeting with an important client at a moment’s notice. In other words, when the opportunity arises, you want to be ready.
Make subtle changes
Unless you work in fashion, a sudden style overhaul is not the best way to go about things. If you have been showing up at work in sweatshirts and jeans, appearing in a suit for no good reason is going to make people think that you are up to something, or that you have a job interview. Instead, you want to ease into the new you.
One way to do that is to slowly swap out the items. Try loafers or brogues if you have been living it up in sneakers in the office. Instead of jeans, opt for slim-fit chinos or dressier trousers. Ditch the hoodie jacket and layer on a sharp blazer, which will smarten up a t-shirt-and-jeans combo.
Make sound investments
There are some things worth spending more money on, like a well-tailored suit, a blazer or dress shoes. The quality will pay off in the long run. One way not to break the bank is to shop during sales and to look for affordable options online.
The problem with sale items or buying clothing online is that sometimes the sizing isn’t quite right. This is where a good tailor comes in. Pants that are too long or a blazer that is a tad loose at the waist? Some minor alterations will make it a perfect fit.
Make no mistake, this is a crucial step. Even the most expensive jacket is going to look awful if the fit isn’t right.
Grooming counts for just as much
As with the fact that a perfect fit is everything when it comes to your clothes, you also want to pay attention to your grooming. Get the best haircut you can afford and get it regularly. Get hair styling products too, and tips from your friendly hairstylist.
You never want to look like you just rolled out of bed. Shave every morning if it’s a clean shaven look you are going for, and trim those nose hairs. Give yourself a good inspection in the mirror every morning before you step out of the house. You want to look polished and sharp, just like someone who can be counted on to do the job.
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