Master Your Appearance At Every Level Of Your Career

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Despite much complaining and protestation, formalized dress codes in the workplace can be a beautiful thing. The reason for this is that it makes what you need to wear each day crystal clear. Unfortunately, over half of all US employers do not have a dress code. A situation that can make what you wear to work each day a complicated process full of pitfalls. Happily, even if your workplace has no dress code guidance, you can be sure to dress appropriately for your career level. All you need to do is read the advice below.

Career Newbies 

For those at the beginning of their career and just entering the workforce, the world of career attire can be confusing. After all, you want to make a good impression and have others take you seriously. However, it’s vital that you dress suitably for your position and that you fit in with the company’s expectations. 

First impressions count 

In particular, it is essential to remember that first impressions count. That this goes for your very first day, and the first time that your colleagues and superiors see you each morning. To that end, you will want to make sure you dress day correctly, each and every day. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to make sure this happens consistently. 

Assess the company culture 

The first of these is to take a good long look at what others are wearing in your company. What others wear will usually inform you as to what is OK and what isn’t. Be sure to consider the attire of the whole office, though, because if you base your choices on just one person, you may not be quite right. After all, there is always an employee with a more quirky sense of style around the office. 

Also, be wary of only replicating what the person that hired you was wearing. The reason for this is that during interviews, people are likely to be dressed more formally. Also, as an entry-level employee, it may not be entirely appropriate for you to turn up in full business formal, examples of which you can find at Although, when in doubt, a little too formal is always better than too informal when you are just starting.

Consider too, the company culture as a whole. For example, creative agencies that employ designers, artists, and illustrators, as well as smaller tech startups, tend to have a much more relaxed vibe. However, larger, more established businesses usually have a stricter view of what is acceptable. 

Ask HR 

Remember, too, that if you are struggling as to what to wear in your first week, you can ask HR. This action will show you are serious about your post and will be one that this department will be well-positioned to answer. 

Establish your credibility through your appearance 

In a perfect world, others would judge us in the workplace solely on our actions. However, the world of work is not perfect, and our appearance does have an impact on how we are perceived. 

In particular, dressing in an unkempt or shabby way can hurt how others see us even if we are highly dedicated and adept at our jobs. With that in mind, making an effort to fit in with the company dress code and be well-groomed each day will help those around you come to a favorable opinion on your ability.

Middle management 

After you have been in your career for a while, you will likely get promoted. You may even find yourself rising from the ranks of the entry-level worker through supervisors’ positions and into middle management relatively quickly. 

Of course, as you make this transition from the base level in your career to the one above, it will impact the way that you need to dress in the workplace.

Stand out from those below you

The first thing you need to consider after a promotion is that your work wardrobe needs to stand out. Now, that doesn’t mean you choose loud or attention-grabbing clothes in bright colors. It merely means that you have to delineate yourself from those that you are managing. In fact, by demonstrating this difference visually, you can make day to day life easier for yourself, because your dress will reinforce your position and authority. 

With that in mind, if your office is very casual, you may want to opt for the next level above, such as business casual or even business professional. Examples of the latter being available from Although it is advisable not to go too far up the scale, as your team may interpret this that you think you are better than them and can cause resentment. 

Remember that by the time you are in a middle manager position, you will also have a lot more interaction with senior leaders in your company. Therefore you will want to make sure that your dress is right whether you are called into an impromptu meeting with the big boss or spend all day with those you manage.

Consider how you appear to clients 

Similarly, as you progress through the ranks of the business, you will be interacting with clients on a face-to-face basis. Therefore ensuring you look as smart as possible for this interaction is vital. 

Unfortunately, if you turn up looking too casual, your client may not believe that you are taking them or their needs seriously. Something that at best can get the meeting off to a rocky start, and at work may cost you the contract! 

With that in mind, keeping a change of shoes and a smart jacket in the office or your car is advisable. Then you can make a quick change and make sure you refresh your appearance before each meeting. 

Senior management 

Congratulations, all your hard work has paid off, and you have climbed your way to the top of the tree. Of course, this means that a wardrobe overall is in order. However, before you run out and treat yourself to some hand tailor suits, consider the following points. 

Can you be too formal?

Many people are a little older by the time they achieve senior management status. Happily, age brings experience and so respect in the workplace. However, middle-aged to older individuals that dress too formally may run the risk of being perceived as old fashioned in the approach to work. A risk that is often more apparent if they have come from a more formal and rigid employment environment. 

With that in mind, senior managers must be careful to balance formality with a more youthful look. The good news is there are several tactics you can use to achieve this.

Overhaul your wardrobe 

The first is to give your current work wardrobe an overhaul with a modern twist. What this means using accessories, as well as pieces of clothing that are appropriate to your age, but also demonstrate an awareness of current styling trends. 

Fortunately, even if you are not much of a fashion person, this is too hard to achieve. The reason being that many department stores will offer personal styling sessions with an expert, like the ones discussed at Experiences that can help you put together some suitable work outfits with a fashion-forward edge. 

Be aware that it’s not just the clothes you wear that will contribute to the overall impression colleagues have, but also accessories like glasses, bags, and shoes. You can even find some suggestions on the latter at

Particularly, senior managers that are concerned with maintaining youthful and relevant visage in the workplace may opt for progressive lenses like the ones at in their glasses rather than varifocal ones. The reason being that the telltale line between long-distance and short is not present. 

Additionally, a smart work bag that nods to current trends or some sharp shoes can help lift an outfit. Therefore making your entire look much more powerful and effective.

Last of all, don’t forget that while sticking to the rule will give you great results, part of the fun of being high up in your company is that you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to. 

That is, you can make a very bold statement by going entirely against the dress code you have set for your business. For example, in a company where business casual attire like the pieces at is usual, a director wearing business formal can be a real power-play. The opposite is also true. If you require everyone to arrive suited and booted to work, yet turn up in jeans, you are making a bold statement. One that suggests you are so far above the hierarchy of authority that the rules no longer apply.

Final thoughts 

In summary, if you wish to master your appearance at every level of your career, remember to stick the balance between fitting in and standing out that is appropriate for your stage. 

Also, if in doubt, opting for an outfit that is a little more formal than the ones everyone else is wearing at least shows commitment and that you are taking your career seriously. While an unkempt appearance only ever detracts from others’ perception of you in the workplace.

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