To wear… or not to wear

Should I add a pop of colour, or stay plain Jane black? Wear something tight or something lose fitting? Is this too casual or way over the top?

Whether you’re dressing for a big interview, a corporate event or just a normal day at work, it can be a struggle to know what is and isn’t ok to wear. The workplace attire is always changing, and these days we are seeing a shift towards dressing casually rather than dressy. Generally speaking, the office is not the place to make an outlandish fashion statement, but that doesn’t mean you have to downgrade your overall look. We’ve pulled together our top tips and tricks for knowing what to wear… and what not to wear.

1//Understand the time and place

Your workplace wardrobe will change depending on the occasion and the office culture. Understanding what, who and where you’re dressing for is step one in dressing to impress.

If it’s the interview, dress on the side of caution and overdress rather than underdress. Remember, research suggests that people only need 7 seconds to decide what they think about you so visual cues such as your outfit will contribute heavily to what decision they come to.

Once you’ve got the job and had time to observe your colleagues and managers, you can start to play with your style and how formal you dress. If a particular event arises, such as a big client coming into the office or your team attending a corporate event, it can be worth asking directly what the dress code is for that day.


2//Wear the right colour and silhouette to convey your message

When in doubt, black is your best friend! It’s safe, flattering and suitable no matter the workplace. And if you’re scared to graduate from black to all-out colour, play with neutrals (brown, beige, navy and white) will smaller pops of colour.

If something feels so tight that it’s uncomfortable and revealing, pop it back on the coat hanger.  Or if you find yourself worried to lean or bend over, consider wearing something under or over to provide more coverage.


3//If you are unsure, then it’s most likely not appropriate

This rule seems basic but can save you from awkward situations; if you’d wear it to the beach, gym, or nightclub, then it’s not appropriate for the office. And in general, if your outfit makes you nervous or uncomfortable, change! You want to feel empowered, not self-conscious, when in the office. So, dress to impress not only others but yourself.

And on that note, experiment with the power of dressing for the role you want, not the role you have. Desperate for that promotion? Look at the people currently in that role or working at that level, and aim to imitate their style and level of professionalism.


4// Take time to know yourself and the brand

Toi Sweeney, the founder of the Well-Dressed Brand states, “You need to combine your personal brand with the company’s brand. You want to stand out and fit in at the same time”.

Step 1 is knowing yourself and the personal brand you want to portray. Not sure where to start? Check out our Personal Branding 101 article.

Step 2 is knowing what suits your specific office space and workplace culture. And while you can do some degree of research beforehand (such as stalking the company and its employees on LinkedIn), that understanding while mainly come from spending time within the space and around the people.

Step 3 is to take the leap! Get started, be yourself and know that, in the right workplace, you’ll soon find your way and smash it.


This article was written by Sophie, one of the genYOU interns.