What to wear in an office environment

by Phil Lowe
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The office environment is a competitive jungle. While we all pretend to get along and have a great time, we all know that behind everything we are competing with our peers for promotions, trying to impress our bosses and trying to show the way to the cubs coming through. One of the key points to success in the jungle is wearing the right attire. Ensuring you look the part is halfway to being the part. Read on for our tips on how to dress in the office.

Business Casual

Two words that mean so much and so little. You should always dress business casual for the majority of offices but what that means can change from office to office. For most offices, it means looking respectable without going over the top. Day to day this means men should wear a shirt and suit pants, but no jacket, no tie. In winter it is more common to pair the shirt with a plain jumper than to start wearing the suit jacket. For women, it is common to wear a tailored blouse, high-quality skirt (around knee length) and dress shoes. 

What to wear for an interview

Even if you know what everyone in an office wears day-to-day, it is important to dress a little more formally for an interview. This shows that you are giving the interview respect and it is important to you. For men, this usually means wearing a suit and for women, it remains a skirt and blouse but colors and patterns should be simple for the interview process. The interview is not the place to stand out like a peacock because of your dress sense.

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Keep your shoes on

For some reason, in the office environment, both men and women tend to wear uncomfortable shoes. Women usually wear some form of high heels that kills them throughout the day while men wear a hard leather shoe that can start to get uncomfortable after a long day. 

For women, it is a good idea to wear comfortable shoes if you have to walk to work and leave your heels in a bag or at work. Depending on your office layout you can likely kick your shoes off while at your desk and pop them on whenever you need to move around but have some self-awareness and make sure your feet are smelling fancy fresh before you do. It is a good idea as well to have a third pair of comfortable yet basic plimsoll shoes under your desk if you don’t want to wear high heels or have your feet out in the open.

Gentlemen, too often have I been in offices where men feel comfortable to kick off their shoes. This is not ok. While I am sure many of your feet smell great, many of your feet do not. One of the most common office complaints is about someone’s smelly feet. Do everyone a favor and keep your shoes on. Even if you don’t have smelly feet you will likely get the blame for it if someone else does and you are spotted. As a simple rule, keep your shoes on.

Dress for success

Never dress for the job you have, always dress for the job you want. If when you are in a company you notice a clear divide in how different levels dress, always aim one rung higher. You don’t have to copy their outfits exactly but by matching the formality of the dress code for the job you would like people will subconsciously start to perceive you at that level. It is a simple move that goes a long way.

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