Dress for Success!

PNN Employment Tip - April 2012
Have you ever heard the advice “You need to dress for the job you want”?  Nothing can make a more impactful first impression than your appearance.  Whether it’s for an interview, an important meeting or for your first day of work, you’ll want to have a good understanding of how you should dress.  Here are a few dress code categories defined:
Business Professional
This is generally as formal and conservative as you’ll get in the workplace.  You should dress in business professional for most job interviews, though it really depends on the job and the company.  For men this will include a suit, collared dress shirt and a tie.  For women it will include a business suit or pants suit or dress and jacket.  You may be expected to dress business professional on a daily basis depending on the industry you work in and the types of clients you work with.  For example, many professionals in the accounting and financial service industries dress in business professional most days.
Business Casual
This is the most widely accepted dress code in office positions.  But don’t mistake business casual attire as simply casual.  While it is more relaxed than business professional, they share some similarities.  Women may wear a moderate length dress or skirt (knee-length or longer) or a pair of dress pants and a shirt with a collar and/or a sweater with nice shoes.  Men may wear a polo shirt with a collar and/or a sweater, khakis or dress pants and dress shoes and no tie is required.  As a general rule for business casual you should keep it classic, keep it neutral and keep it covered.
Dress Down Days
Some places of employment have a special day per week where employees dress more casual.  Depending on your work setting this may include jeans and a tasteful t-shirt.
What NOT to Wear
It is standard in most work settings to avoid any clothes that reveal too much of your body: short skirts or shorts, shirts that don’t have straps, anything transparent, etc.  Jeans must be in good condition with no tears.  Many corporations also disapprove of open-toed shoes, sometimes for safety reasons, so it’s best to ask beforehand.
Head Coverings & Perfume
Hats are typically not allowed in the workplace, though head coverings for religious or cultural purposes are permitted.  Some companies have adopted scent-free policies.  This is because people with scent allergies can have adverse reactions to the chemicals used in conventional perfumes.
If you are not sure what to wear on your first day at a new job you should ask your hiring manager if there is an appropriate dress code, especially if you’ll be dealing with the public.  When in doubt it’s better to overdress than it is to underdress.