In the Job

How to Dress for Work

Make sure you are wearing the correct clothes to work, especially on the first day.

Knowing what to wear in the workplace might seem like a small worry in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something that you need to give some careful thought to if you want to impress your employer.

It goes without saying that accepted ways of dressing will vary from one workplace to another, so there isn’t always a definitive answer.

If you’ll be entering the world of investment banking, you’ll probably need to wear a suit. On the other hand, if you’re starting a role in marketing for an up and coming start-up, it’s likely to be a much more relaxed affair. Take note of how others dress when you attend your interview, and if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask!

As time goes on in your job you can assess what your colleagues are wearing but you will want to make sure you get it right on the first day.

Smart casual

Smart Casual for work

Lots of offices adopt this sort of approach these days, so it’s good to know exactly what it means.

For ladies, go with a mid length skirt or dress, and team with a comfortable shirt or jumper.

For men, a pair of suit trousers and a shirt, without a tie, should do the trick.

Avoid jeans and trainers, and always make sure that your clothes are clean and ironed. If there’s a big meeting coming up or you’re likely to have to meet clients or external suppliers at any point, it could be worthwhile upgrading to smart business wear for the day.

You should always have a few formal items in your wardrobe for those days when you really need to make an impression.

Professional business wear

Professional Business Wear

Workplaces that expect this sort of attire are becoming less common, but they still exist.

Obviously, the order of the day here is formality.

For men, a suit with smart shoes, a shirt and a tie is essential. You can pick up everything you need on the high street, and you probably don’t need to spend as much as you might think.

At the likes of Marks and Spencer, Burton, and Next, you can pick up everything you need for less than £100. It’s a wise investment and your suit will last for ages. A cheeky tip is to check out stores like Tesco & Asda clothing as they will have great value shirts and ties.

For women, a fitted suit with either a skirt or a pair of well-fitting trousers will do the trick, as will a more formal business dress worn with a tailored jacket. If you want to add a little bit of your own personal style, you could wear a brightly coloured scarf or a statement necklace.

Again, the high street is your best bet. Try Next and Marks and Spencer for affordable yet stylish pieces & the supermarket fashion stores for some real money saving items.

Dress down Fridays

Dress down workDress down Fridays are commonplace in many offices. Whatever the dress code is during the rest of the week these days are more relaxed, and you can turn up wearing pretty much what you like. Obviously though, you should exercise a little bit of caution!

Stay clear of anything too extreme, and don’t go for anything that could be considered offensive, such as slogan t-shirts with things like “muff diving champion” printed on then.

Anything that you’d consider wearing on a night out is probably too extreme, so leave the low cut tops and short skirts at home.

Jeans and casual shoes are fine, but make sure they’re clean and not too scruffy.

Make-up, fragrance and tattoos

work tattoos and make upIf you like to wear make-up, there’s no reason why you can’t use it for work, but make sure that you keep it toned down.

A little blusher and mascara is fine, but avoid any statement looks. As with all of the unwritten rules of dressing for work, this could vary slightly depending on where you work.

If you’re a make-up artist, you’ll probably be actively encouraged to wow when it comes to colours and styles!

Similarly, a little bit of perfume or aftershave is fine, but remember that you aren’t going to a nightclub and don’t want to stink out the office.

In terms of tattoos, employers are becoming much more relaxed about them these days. Still though, it’s probably wise to cover up any visible tattoos with long sleeves, etc. until you work out what’s accepted in your particular workplace.


Dressing to impress doesn’t have to be difficult, or even expensive. As long as you can determine the general workwear policy, you can’t go too far wrong.

What do you find the trickiest about dressing for work?

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