You’ve secured your dream job and the next hurdle is just around the corner… what should you wear on your first day of work?
We chatted to style advisor Lesley Clarke, who has more than 20 years experience in the fashion industry, to find out how to impress with your first day fashion.
What’s your style? Getting it right for work.
If you haven’t been in the job market for a while or have been in academia, the transition to the world of work can be challenging in many ways. One such challenge that many give insufficient attention to is how your wardrobe is going to fit into your new lifestyle and career choice – especially on a tight budget.
At home or as a student you can be pretty carefree; jeans, T-shirt and trainers can see you through most situations but when you make that leap into employment, what’s acceptable (or expected) is often ill defined. If you’re in a job that requires formal attire it’s not so bad, it’s easier to interpret smart corporate wear – you can’t go far wrong with a suit and scarf or tie. However, when you have a more flexible remit, things can get a bit tricky. What does ‘smart casual’ look like?
Here are some guidelines to help you on your way and navigate what’s considered acceptable in your chosen field of work.
Most people will tell you to research your company, to find out the dress code and their expectations…if only it was that straight forward. And then you’ve got the added challenge of your budget, especially when you’re coming back to work after a career break or have that student debt hanging over you!
So here goes:
If in doubt – go smarter.
Be cautious with black– for several reasons, it can be seen as overly authoritative and quite harsh so can create barriers. The idea of building your new work wardrobe round a neutral colour is a good idea but go for a navy or charcoal grey instead – it’s a safer bet and can work well with so many other colours.
Add a splash of colour– to let your personality show through. Best to do this with your accessories and base this around your body shape.
The idea is to use colour to draw attention to the areas you want to be noticed first. For example, if you’ve got elegant hands, paint your nails; wear an interesting ring to draw attention to this feature (but make sure your nails are never chipped!).
For the men, if your six pack isn’t looking as honed as it used to think about avoiding contrast colours in this region!
Think about your shoes– it’s one of the first thing women notice.
Think too about your accessories – a good watch can complement your image.
What about a hankie in your jacket breast pocket? Or have you ever considered a waistcoat – less formal than a jacket but you’d look more distinctive! Of course your personality will be influential here – just because the other people you work with don’t wear a tie, there’s nothing to stop you; but if everyone else in the office is a bit more casual think about wearing it more casually, perhaps with a chambray/denim shirt?
Experiment beforehand– try out new outfit mixes at least in front of the bedroom mirror, preferably with a reliable, honest friend in tow. Don’t leave it till you’re flying out the door in the morning to catch the bus/train! Check yourself in a full-length mirror before you walk out of the door, not to be vain, but to make sure you haven’t got toothpaste down your top or forgotten to put your earrings in (that one always frustrates me and is so easy to do when your morning routine is changed).
Pick one thing that might stretch your budget – that says you know what you’re about. For example, a quality pair of shoes, handbag or jacket. If it’s something that will help you demonstrate your individuality and you can wear it regularly, it can make you look more styled. And ladies, a necklace can change the neckline and focus, transforming an outfit.
Timeless, classic pieces – have a few of these in your arsenal. These can be mixed in a contemporary way with more ‘fashionable’ pieces.
Keep it minimal– with garments you can mix and match, then gradually add to this in time when you develop your ‘feel’ for what works best in your working environment.
If you feel good in what you’re wearing, you’ll naturally stand taller and express yourself more confidently.
Still having those first day fashion worries? Get in touch with Lesley Clarke Style Advisor.