Back To The Office? 5 Tips To Dress For Success
Hands up if you’ve been working from home since…well, forever…and have forgotten how to dress for a work event. Now an invitation has arrived and you’re panicking because you just know your old friends ‘Lounge Wear’ or ‘PJs’ simply won’t cut it.
Whether it’s a formal function, conference, or team ‘bonding’ day, you’ll be around colleagues, managers, and peers – in other words, people who can influence (or derail) your career – so you need to be appropriately dressed.
Take a look at these top tips to make sure you make the impression you want to make.
Be familiar with dress codes.
Usually, a corporate event invitation will specify a dress code. For a professional event such as a high-level conference, the code is likely to be formal business wear. This means a suit for men with a collared shirt, with or without a tie, and dress shoes. For women, it means a skirt or pantsuit, or tailored dress, with smart shoes. Black, neutral, and muted colours are preferred. Make sure shoes are well polished, not scuffed.
Business casual means a step down from formal business wear. Think smart blazer, collared shirt, trousers – make sure it’s tailored and stylish.
Casual means wear whatever you like, but make sure it’s clean, ironed, tidy, isn’t inappropriate, and doesn’t reflect extreme views – leave the death metal or ‘joke’ shirts at home.
Black tie means a tuxedo for men and glamorous evening wear for the ladies.
Dress for success.
Corporate events are a time for business – they’re not the time to show every aspect of your personality. If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, it’s especially important to dress professionally, as work events can often be seen as an informal interview of sorts.
For big corporate conferences and industry meets, the rule is dress-to-impress. What would you wear to a job interview with the company? Wear that.
Obviously, this can vary by industry. Interviewing at Apple requires different choices to interviewing at Macquarie Bank.
Know your industry and know your company. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring and not show your personality - it just means, be mindful of the impression YOU want to leave.
Your career is the conduit to your lifestyle, so you might need to compartmentalise – there’s a ‘job’ you and a ‘home’ you.
Don’t let it all hang out
Regardless of the event, don’t dress provocatively. Clothes to leave in your wardrobe include low cut tops or dresses, studded jeans, thigh-high boots, overly tight shirts, very short shorts – you know the drill. Leave those for nights out with friends.
It’s not the time for you to put everything on display. Like it or not, most corporates are still rather conservative. These events are your opportunity to shine and stand out because of your ideas and contributions.
Even at team bonding events – say, cocktail making, or out on a boat – think about the impression you want to make.
Unsure? Don’t do it
If you’re umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether an outfit is appropriate, it probably isn’t. Save that joke tie for a buck’s party, save the backless sequined dress for a night out with the girls. Stick to black, simple and tailored.
Accessories are your friend.
This is where you might show a bit of your personality. Just be tasteful.
Keep in mind these tips are focused on corporate organisations. This means industries such as government, financial/banking, insurance etc.
If your industry is in creative (say, design), hospitality, or other less formal environments, then the dress code is a little more relaxed. (Still no loungewear, though!) Just be sure to check out their website and ads to get a feel for the atmosphere, and if you’re still uncertain, ask your manager.
Go forth and develop your career, network, and make your mark in a way that won’t brand you as the company oddball. Keep it tailored, stylish and clean.