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5 fashion dos and don’ts in the office

By Sara Farrelly, Hays Banking Recruitment Consultant

Dressing for your new job can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Sara Farrelly, Hays Banking Recruitment Consultant and fashion blogger will help you avoid the pitfalls with some simple tips.

Men have it easy, once you have a nice quality suit. Avoid the clash of print tie and shirt, leave the shiny wedding suit at home and you’re ready for work. Women, on the other hand, have a more difficult task to strike a healthy balance between professionalism and style. Regardless of gender, there are a number of things you should and shouldn’t do when dressing for the corporate world.

Always assess the situation

You’ve landed the job which means you made a great first impression in the interview with both your experience and your outfit choice. Choosing what to wear for your first day, and the days to follow, can be nerve wracking but go with the same mentality - dress to impress but don’t try to make any loud statements and over the coming days decipher what’s appropriate. Not everyone will dress appropriately; so go with the majority and don’t be afraid to ask a colleague about dress-code norms if you’re unsure.

Maintain professionalism at all times

Remember, you are in work. No matter how relaxed your environment is you still need to look professional. Ask yourself “Would I wear this to an interview?” If the answer is no, then leave it in the wardrobe for the weekend. Some offices have a relaxed dress-code or ‘Casual Fridays’, don’t abuse this policy.

Tracksuits, flip-flops and sports t-shirts are never ok and despite how on-trend ripped denim is at present, it should be avoided in the workplace. Whatever you choose to wear, always make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your choice and remember, you could be called to an unexpected meeting with management or a client.

Be yourself

This is where it gets tricky. Bear the above in mind but you should also dress in a way that reflects your personality.

Men are constrained to expressing their personality through a shirt, tie and suit, but it can be done. Deviate from the traditional striped ties and try subtle paisley or abstract prints. Tie pins and pocket squares can set you apart from a sea of suits or bring in some serious style with a tweed suit jacket. Ladies, wear items you are comfortable in. Please don’t buy five days’ worth of trouser suits in a grey, black and navy palette. Most high street stores have pieces which, when combined correctly, are entirely appropriate for the workplace.

Your outfit choice demonstrates your individuality so don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on your work attire. If you like bright colours or patterns, team a vibrant piece with a neutral blazer and well-tailored trousers or a smart skirt. Your company didn’t hire a robot after all. Heels make an outfit look complete and polished but choose a heel height you’re comfortable with and can walk in!

Don’t become too comfortable

You’re in the job a couple of months; you’ve made friends, established yourself as a professional in your field and are comfortable in your organisation. This doesn’t mean that you can become relaxed about your wardrobe or start to take the dress-code lightly. Remember you are setting an example for new staff of what is and isn’t ok to wear to work. Have a positive impact.

Personal hygiene

This may seem obvious but it’s an area in which employees continue to fall down. Good personal hygiene in the workplace is not optional.

Whether the alarm didn’t go off or you had an early morning meeting or perhaps a late night social event, you need to be presentable at all times when in work. Think, “If I had a meeting today, would I make a positive impression?” Some companies have policies on hair, make-up, jewellery and other adornments but even if your company doesn’t, here are mine: hair should always be neat, clean and tidy; make-up should be appropriate and, men, facial hair should always be well groomed.

You are what you wear. Whether you like it or not people judge, so be smart about your choices.

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