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Dress codes: Deciding what to wear to work

2 Aug 2019

Home Dress codes: Deciding what to wear to work
2 Aug 2019
For job-seekers

What we wear is one of the first things people notice, and we’re subconsciously judged on our appearance almost immediately. Whether your company has a formal dress code or not, deciding what to wear to work is a common preoccupation for most British workers.

Research shows that our professional appearance translates into performance – interestingly, wearing a lab coat can increase your attention to detail (regardless of whether the role requires one or not!), formal outfits lead to higher abstract thinking and wearing red can help sportspeople lift heavier weights (I know what I’m wearing to the gym in future)!

Here’s our take on how to dress appropriately and effectively for the office.

1. Follow suit

Whether your company has a dress code or not, your biggest clue to what’s expected and accepted will be what your colleagues are wearing.

2. Take time over your appearance

However casual your office dress code might be, you still want to look like you’ve taken time and effort over your appearance. Avoid anything that makes you look dishevelled and always go for things that are clean and fit well. If you’re rocking facial hair, keep it groomed so the stubble looks deliberate rather than a legacy from a heavy weekend! Also, never arrive at work with your hair still wet – people will make a judgement on your time management skills!

3. Casual at work is different to casual at home

Even if your workplace is accepting of very casual or creative clothes, there should still be a discernible difference between your work attire and your home wear – things like sports tops, gym gear, jogging bottoms, beach flip flops, pyjamas (yes, people have really worn these to work!) and outfits with offensive images or slogans aren’t going to go down well in any workplace. Likewise, anything that shows your underwear is a big no-no for obvious reasons!

4. Be considerate of your colleagues

Think about the sensory impact of your outfit - wearing jewellery that incessantly jangles, a watch/gadget that beeps loudly or a strong perfume/aftershave is likely to offend those sitting near you. If you’re not sure whether something you’re wearing is irritating your colleagues, just ask them to be honest - we bet they’ll tell you!

5. Bag it up

Research shows that people with overflowing handbags or laptop bags are judged to be more inefficient and slovenly than those whose belongings are neatly packed away. There’s an easy fix for this one if you like to have a messy bag – just keep it zipped up at work!

6. If in doubt, copy the boss

Sometimes it can be difficult to find your style at work, especially if there’s a very open and casual dress code. If in doubt, look at what your boss is wearing – we’ve all heard of the old ‘dress for the job you want’ adage, but there’s a lot of truth in it.

7. The power of colour

The psychology of colour is fascinating – the colour of your clothes has a significant effect on both your own mood and other people’s perception of you. You can leverage this to great advantage in the workplace - here’s a quick guide:

Black: Serious and sophisticated

Brown: Reliable, earthy and stable

Blue: Intelligent, trustworthy and efficient

Green: Peaceful, content and calm

Purple: Creative, insightful and emotional

Red: Passionate, assertive and powerful

Yellow: Active, adventurous and energetic

White: Neat, calm and perfectionist

Pink: Gentle, warm and feminine

Orange: Optimistic, energetic and cheerful

Grey: Balanced, mature and consistent

You can literally dress your way to a better day...

Two-thirds of Brits believe that how they dress can make them feel better about themselves and boost their mood – so it’s worth taking the time to choose your work outfit in the morning, it really can make the difference between a good or bad day in the office.

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