What Should I Wear To Work? [Video]
Last updated August 17, 2023
Whether you are required to wear a uniform or can pick your own clothes, you should always maintain a certain level of professionalism with how you present yourself at work. Check out our tips and this video below for examples on what to wear to work!
It’s important to recognize that professionalism and “looking professional” were built on white, male-dominant standards. Research shows that conventional professionalism can lead Black and Brown employees to feel like they don't belong in the workplace - and can lead to real consequences like being passed over for a job offer, promotion, or raise.
While we recognize these standards are detrimental to showing your authentic self in the workplace, we also recognize that we’re unable to shift this common perspective on our own. We want to give you these tips to set you up for success in our current world with the hope that "professionalism" is redefined in the future.
Check your job's dress code
When getting ready for work, it's important to check the dress code for your job before picking out what to wear. This could be found in your job's employee handbook, website, or by asking your supervisor or HR department for clarification. By taking the time to understand the dress code, you'll feel more confident and make a good impression!
Know the differences between business professional, business casual, and casual work attire
Knowing the differences between business professional, business casual, and casual dress code is important for dressing right at different jobs. Here's a breakdown of each term:
Think of this dress code as the strictest and most professional of the three, and it's usually for jobs in corporate offices like government, law, or finance. Examples of business professional attire include:
- Dresses or skirts (preferably knee-length)
- Dark-colored suits and ties
- Neat button-down shirts or blouses
- Dark-colored blazer
- Heels, loafers, or flats
- Accessorize with minimal jewelry and belts
Business casual is a bit more relaxed but still looks professional, and you'll find it in places like tech companies or creative industries. If you're unsure what to wear, business casual attire is usually the safest choice. Examples of business casual items include:
- Slacks or business dress pants
- Knee-length skirts or dresses
- Dark jeans without holes
- Button-down shirts or polos
- Sweaters or cardigans
- Blazers or sport coats
- Closed-toed shoes like flats, boots, or dress shoes
- Simple, accessories like scarves, belts, or jewelry
Casual work attire is the most relaxed dress code, usually found in laid-back workplaces or creative fields. But remember, casual doesn't mean anything goes! Here are a few examples of what a casual dress code looks like:
- Button-down shirts
- Sweaters or cardigans
- Khakis or linen pants
- Sneakers, loafers, low heels, or sandals (no flip-flops!)
Remember, these dress codes are general guidelines, so it's always a good idea to check with your workplace or supervisor to know the specific dress code expectations.
In addition to knowing what to wear to work, it's also important to maintain good hygiene. Here are a few tips you can incorporate into your routine:
- Make sure your hair is neatly styled (this includes facial hair).
- Shower regularly and put on deodorant.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily.
- Keep your nails trimmed and clean to prevent dirt and bacteria buildup.
- Use mouthwash or chew gum to freshen your breath.
- Don’t use too much perfume, scented lotion, or cologne.
- Depending on the job, keep your makeup minimal.
When you look good, you feel good! For more job success tips check out these articles or text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our jobs coaches. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!