Image by: Andrew Pearson
By Robert Spencer
While it may not seem important for work, catching peoples’ eyes while on the job is an important business habit. We do things at breakneck speeds these days so it is important to catch the eye of passersby in order to make an impact: that means your boss, your team members, your possible clients, etc. Our appearance is the absolute first impression that we will make with people so it is important to dress professionally at work in order to make that lasting impression pack a punch.
If you can turn heads and make a name for yourself, it can send a very powerful message.
My Job Requires Me to Wear…What?
First it is important to figure out what the dress code is at your place of employment. There are three main types of business attire (based on the environment and atmosphere of your work): casual, semi-casual, and formal.
If you work in a business setting, casual attire should never go beyond a nice polo and some khakis. Jeans and a t-shirt with open-toed shoes are only appropriate in younger business settings such as most tech start-ups. Open-toed shoes are never appropriate in any setting other than these business sites.
The attire for semi-formal settings generally involves a good-looking polo with some chinos or a pressed, pair of slacks.
Formal wear for work is traditionally a three-piece suit. Keep your suit pieces uniform (try not to mix and match). A vest would work fine if you want to mix it up a little.
Overdressing isn’t extremely important, though it is somewhat expected of bosses. As long as you dress appropriately for your work and keep your mind in the right place (on your job), you’ll be able to make a name for yourself. That being said, studies (conducted in schools that require dress uniforms and those that don’t) have shown that dressing more professionally (rather than casually) statistically improves performance and professional behavior.
Shopping for the Best
Remember that designer labels aren’t necessary for work. Depending on your work environment, it may appear to be like you’re showing off if you come to work every day, flaunting your clothes every day. The most modern, stylish, and best-dressed men don’t make a big deal out of their clothes. This isn’t a red carpet; no one cares who you’re wearing. Your focus should be on your work instead of on what you’re wearing.
In addition to that, mainstream fashion trends go by so fast that changing your work attire to match the fast-moving fashion industry will be more time and work than you might be willing to spend. Stick to classic business staples to get you through the work day and if you feel like being a fashion nazi, do so after hours.
When you’re shopping for the right attire, it’s important to buy an array of colors of shirts (solid-colored shirts). If you don’t own a top-of-the-line suit, having different dress shirts underneath your jacket or vest will help you stand out. Once in a while a patterned shirt will work but make sure that you match it with a solid colored tie. If you don’t like the idea of punching up your wardrobe with a bright shirt, consider some colorful ties instead.
If you’re building your professional attire from scratch and you don’t have the money to go out and buy fifty shirts of different colors, start off with blue and white collared shirts. These colors scream business professional and are clean, cool, and appealing to the eye.
Don’t forget about your shoes. A good pair of dress shoes should last you a long time (years). They will also stay clean and good-looking longer than those cheap pairs that you can find in big box stores. They should only need the occasional, light cleaning (and the rare shine) in order to maintain a good look.
If you take care of your clothes, they will continue to look good and will last longer. This will save you time and money in the long run. So dry clean your clothes when needed, hang them up or fold them appropriately, and spot clean quickly. Consider investing in a shoe tree, and a tie rack to keep your accessories in great shape as well.
I Only Have a Half An Hour to Look Like a Pro.
If you’re like most men in the morning, you only have a limited time to get ready in the morning. Between getting the kids ready, squeezing in a healthy breakfast, and a quick run in the morning, most men are lucky if they can get a half an hour.
When you’re hanging your clothes up, look at hanging the same colors together or color coordinating your closet. If your wife hasn’t snatched up most of the closet, going from cooler colors (on one side of the closet) to warmer colors (on the other side) will help you when it comes to matching your clothes to the seasons as well. This tip may seem like overkill but it will shave off some valuable minutes in the morning.
Laying it out the night before, is a great tip if you find that you have extra time at night and not in the morning. In addition, taking a day off and spending the time to organize your closet will help you during the week.
Good hygiene is the first step in dressing professionally. You may look good in a three piece suit but if you smell like a horse’s behind, no will want to work with you, and you won’t be making that good first impression that you intended to make in the first place. Shower, shave, get regular haircuts to maintain your mane, and have fresh breath. A quick 10-15 minute shower should do the trick in the morning.
Speaking of hair, if you can pull it off (i.e. if your hair cooperates and you can get a good barber to help you with the do), invest in a side part. It’s a classic style that is always in style and will always match a three piece suit.
Posture has a lot to do with looking professional as well. If you’re in a designer suit and you’re slouching, you’re not going to look as the guy in the knock-off brand who is holding himself with confidence. One tip that will help with posture is to get your suits tailored. A good fitting suit will make you feel more confident, which will show in your posture.
Another tip to look professional (without having to spend any extra time sprucing yourself up in the morning) is to have good-looking and appropriate tools for your trade. A clean, organized, and well-stocked office will accessorize your suit nicely as well.