December 27, 2010

What to Wear on the Job

Most of you, that are college students, are probably ending your winter break and are about to head back to school. Hopefully this also means starting an internship. We've talked about what to wear at the interview, but in some ways it can be even more stressful to figure out what to wear on the first day: you want to both fit it, be yourself, and make a good impression. That's a lot for one outfit to accomplish, so what exactly should you wear for the first day at a new internship or job?

Think About the Interview
You likely interacted with at least a few people during your interview and hopefully had a chance to walk through the office and observe the work environment. You should start by thinking about what you saw people wearing around the office. This includes thinking about the style, level of formality, trendiness, colors, etc. Did you a lot of clothes that look like they've come off the runway? Did you see jeans sneakers and laid back t-shirts? Did you see business casual? Or maybe a combination, such as suit paired with a t-shirt and sneakers? Understanding what employees wear will help you figure out what is expected.

Step It Up

Now that you've figured out what is likely expected, you should step it up a notch for your first day in order to make a good impression. Basically, whatever you determine is the trend for clothing at that company, you should start by wearing something slightly more formal and slightly more conservative. If you see sneakers try a formal flat or simple heels. If you see t-shirts try a nice dress shirt or blouse. If everyone is wearing suits then you should wear a conservative suit and tie or dress suit for women. If everyone is dressed like they belong in a fashion magazine then you should wear a professional version of the recent trends. For instance, for women it's easy to wear a ruffled blouse (since that is a big trend right now) and cute knee length pencil skirt, with trendy shoes and accessories while keeping it both professional and trendy.

General Guidelines
In general there are a few overarching rules you should follow when planning your outfit for the first day:
  • Keep it slightly more formal and conservative than what you expect to wear normally
  • Don't wear sandals or flip flops your first day, even though they may be allowed later
  • This also applies to jeans
  • Avoid showing cleavage, too much legs, too much arms, or really too much skin in general.
  • At most companies it is ok to have trendy items and more creative, expressive clothes and casual clothes
  • Don't wear anything obscene or offensive, this applies generally speaking, not just your first day
  • Generally, don't wear anything too sloppy or look like you just rolled out of bed. You still need to look put together and nice
  • Generally, don't wear anything ripped stained or anything else that doesn't look nice
  • Don't wear anything you would wear to a club. Unless maybe you can tone it down by pairing it with a jacket, leggings, flats, nice pants, etc.

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