Thursday, September 27, 2012

What business attire works in the workplace

DO THIS: Wearing appropriate attire to the
office portrays your desire to be in the organization
CDS hosted the annual "Dress for Success" workshop last week and for those of you who couldn't make it, we wanted to recap the topics so everyone can benefit from the great information that was shared. The most important point we focused on throughout the evening was how your appearance influences the way others perceive you, including your level of professionalism, your attitude, and your desire and interest to be a member of that organization.

The first part of the session covered what to wear to an interview, a topic we've discussed on our blog before. For a refresher, be sure to click over to read that post. Remember: You want to be remembered for what you bring to the table during an interview, not what you're wearing.

NOT THAT: But dressing too casual at work 
undermines your level of professionalism
During the rest of the workshop, we shared some tips for appropriate workplace attire once you get the job. Wearing suitable attire that fits with the corporate culture is crucial to workplace etiquette and portraying a professional impression. Here are three tips to remember when dressing for the office.

1. Invest in quality pieces. When starting an office job, it might seem overwhelming to have to invest in a completely new wardrobe. But quality, neutral pieces can work with things you already have in your closet. For women, business skirts, dress pants, blazers, tailored shirts, sweaters, and tasteful shoes in neutral colors can be worn and paired with many things. Men can invest in solid-colored slacks, sports coats or blazers, collared shirts, and dark shoes. These pieces will fit a variety of professions and will remain classic despite fashion trends. Invest in these pieces first while you transition the rest of your wardrobe.

2. Don't go too causal. It might be easy to start bending the dress code, but there are certain items that are usually never acceptable in the workplace. These include jeans (unless your office participates in casual, dress-down days), athletic attire, shorts, mini skirts, tank tops, tennis shoes, and baseball caps.

3. When in doubt, ask. If you're not sure what to wear to the office, err on the dressy side. Also, talk to your human resources department about the acceptable dress guidelines at your organization.

If you're looking to build your business wardrobe, there are some resources available in the Philadelphia area. The CDS department will be happy to give you a referral to visit Career Wardrobe, an organization that helps women get the clothing, and build the career skills and confidence necessary to transition to work. There are also many second-hand stores where you can find quality clothes in great condition for a fraction of their original price.

We hope all who came to the event enjoyed themselves, and for those who couldn't make it, that these tips will help you dress to impress in the office. If you want to talk to a member of the Career Development Services team about a specific wardrobe- or career-related question, feel free to email us at