How to dress right for work

Tech start-ups may have popularised the shorts-and-tee work uniform, but there are still rules to follow when it comes to dressing for the office

It’s no secret that looking your best in the workplace is important if you are striving for success. But with more companies opting for casual work dress codes, deciding on what to wear isn’t as straightforward as it used to be.

In an age where disruption is the norm and millennial workers are coming to the fore, companies care more about skill sets and results than they do about how you look. They also want their employees to feel comfortable in the office. Yet, different employers may have their own notions about what is acceptable and what is not when you’re on the job. To help you navigate this potential sartorial minefield, here are some tips to help you ensure you look right every time you clock in.

Know your dress codes

HR departments may throw around terms such Business Casual, Smart Casual or Casual when describing acceptable work wear. Many companies go casual on Fridays or eves of holidays, while those who deal with clients may have a different set of rules compared to backroom staff.

But each of these dress codes can mean different things, depending on who you ask. Is a T-shirt only allowed for casual, and are cartoon ties passable for business casual? To make sure you don’t fall foul of the law, there’s no harm checking with your HR team on their interpretation of the prescribed dress code.

See what colleagues are wearing

If you’re still unsure about what’s acceptable even after checking with HR, then it’s best you read the room to see how your colleagues dress for different occasions. You might notice that nobody ever wears flip flops or goes without socks, or that ties are not required even at client meetings. After a while, you should know what does and doesn’t work at your office. But until you figure that out, it might be better to play it safe and stick with more conservative attire for the first couple of weeks after you join a new company.

Add a touch of style

Once you’ve cracked the dress code, you can probably start showing off your individuality with some colours and prints within the rules set. Don’t go overboard with Hawaiian print shirts, but a statement piece, like a red top with grey slacks, might do the trick.

Adding some prints into the mix is another way to inject some personality into your wardrobe. Again, don’t overdo it; you’re trying to inject a dose of flair, not drown in it.
Finally, a bold accessory or two – chunky necklace or quirky watch – is another way to get noticed in the right way.