A Man’s Guide to Dressing for Success in the Workplace

You’ve just got your first real job–or maybe it’s your first office job. Congrats, you’re an adult now! Now it’s time to actually dress like one. Time to kick the habit of rolling out of bed, grabbing the first pair of sweats that you find and putting on the tattered pair of Nike’s you left sitting by the front door. Having a great attire is very important in the workplace. A lot of times your attire can be a reflection of your personal brand. You should always look your best so that your personal brand can look its best.

While for many, putting much thought into what clothes to wear can seem either narcissistic or like a waste of time. However, even if you don’t pay attention to what you’re wearing, you can rest assured that others will. We form opinions of others by what they look like before they even open their mouths- you can either choose to let this work for you or against you. But this doesn’t just mean wear a suit all the time. Different choices of clothing communicate different things. Executives or people in finance might want to dress up a little more, while people who work in tech or creative can use dressing down a little bit to their advantage. But however you decide to dress, be intentional with regards to what message you want to communicate.

Branding for a company is seen unanimously as essential, but far too many neglect the importance of their own personal “brand.” You wouldn’t ignore how your company is represented visually, so you shouldn’t ignore how you represent yourself either.

Let’s start with the basics. One of the first things you should look at when starting to dress for success is choosing a top and bottom to wear. Trying to decide which shirt to wear, which pair of pants to wear, and what color shirt goes with the pair of pants you chose doesn’t have to be rocket science. Rule of thumb: the simpler, the better. Choosing a shirt to wear can be as simple as choosing a button-down (long sleeve or short sleeve) or even a nice polo shirt (the one with a collar and three buttons, not the horse logo). Choosing a pair of pants should be just as easy as choosing a shirt. You also want to keep it simple; you can never go wrong with a good pair of chinos or a nice pair of jeans — depending on where you work and your line of profession. This isn’t the college life anymore, so no more rips in your jeans or torn cuffs (What the cuff? Yeah, the bottom of your jeans).

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When thinking about a personal brand, what fits you may not fit someone else. The same could be said for your attire. Make sure to choose correct measurements for your clothing. You want your clothes to fit you like a glove, not loose as a goose.

Here comes the tricky part! What color shirt do I get to match this awesome pair of fitted chinos I just bought? Choosing the color of your outfit can either make or break the outfit. Think about a personal website or a brand’s logo. Brands that have color schemes that don’t match or colors thrown together don’t look as good as ones with well thought out color schemes. When in doubt, stick with neutral colors and solid colors. You can never go wrong with a white shirt…well, unless it’s dirty. Blue is also a color that can sometimes be just as versatile as white. Patterned shirts are nice, but solid colors are usually easier to work with. One of the best things about chinos is the fact that they come in many colors for you to work and experiment with. You can head over to J. Crew for examples of a great pair of chinos.

As important as the main parts of your outfit, your shoes add the finishing touch. Don’t be de-FEET-ed (HA!) by your shoe choice. Shoes are an integral part of the outfit as well as one of the most versatile. In most situations you can go with something casual that offers comfortability and affordability. Two good choices to stick with are a pair of loafers and a pair of drivers. Black and brown should be your go-to colors when just starting out. Stick to black shoes when wearing black or grey pants and brown shoes with khakis or chinos, and remember your shoes and belt should always match. After a little practice and being comfortable with your shoe game you can venture out into other colors. Cole Haan is a great place to start your search for the perfect pair of casual shoes.

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Now you’ve got your outfit together and you’re ready to show off your personal brand in style. Well…you’re almost ready. Although your outfit is well put together, you also want the presentation of it to be clean-cut. It’s not a pressing issue, but sometimes it can be just that–a pressing issue! Make sure to invest in a fabric steamer to get wrinkles out of your clothes. You can pick one up at Target when you go to pick up more K-Cups for your Keurig. The same way you wouldn’t hand your boss a great proposal on wrinkled paper, you wouldn’t want to show up to work with a great outfit full of wrinkles. Remember, presentation is everything. Dress in confidence and present your brand in confidence. Good luck!

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