business attire

Updated 5.20.19

At one point in time, professional business attire was the only option to be worn in a corporate setting. But as years go by, business casual is becoming more acceptable. In fact, 50% of companies who participated in the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 benefits survey reported allowing casual dress every day. However, despite the prevalence of relaxed attire across many organizations, first-timers, i.e.  interviewees and new employees should play it safe by choosing professional over casual when it comes to business attire. As I mentioned in a recent article, catching a recruiter’s eye is key! One of the first things they notice is indeed, your outfit.

Perspective of an Interviewee:

It’s the night before your interview and you’re not sure what to wear in the morning. You want to look professional, but not too professional. Not to worry – there is no such thing as “too professional” when meeting a Recruiter for the first time. The sharper you look, the better impression you’ll make.

In my time at Atrium, I’ve never heard a Recruiter say “I don’t know about her/him, s/he was a little overdressed.” But I have heard on several occasions comments about wrinkled, casual clothing and distracting accessories. Recruiters notice everything, so it’s important you’re presenting yourself in a polished, professional manner. Meet them with the impression that they are the ones giving you a job directly. Until you’ve accepted a job offer and have seen first hand how people dress day to day at the company, stick to business professional. For more tips on how to dress for an interview, click here.

Perspective of a New Employee:

On your first day at a new company, you’re going to meet a lot of people. You will have a lot of eyes on you from the start. Dressing professionally is a good way to show you’re serious about the position and prepared for the day ahead. Once you’ve settled in and have spent some time feeling out the culture, you’ll have a better idea of how people dress and how casual you can go. Of course, there are days when colleagues will dress more professionally (for client meetings or conducting interviews). On other days, business casual will be more acceptable. But when in doubt, business professional always wins.

Additional Tips:

Plan ahead. If you at all identify with having a closet full of clothes but have nothing to wear, planning will be critical. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get whatever you plan to wear dry cleaned and/or pressed if needed. It’s a terrible feeling to pull out a dress or blazer you haven’t worn in months only to realize you forgot to get that stain taken care of earlier! If you’re a smoker it’s especially important to keep your clothes smoke free prior to an interview.

Planning isn’t limited to your clothes. Your shoes, though often ignored, may need just as much maintenance. Heels, especially in the city, can get worn down and look ratty pretty easily. If your shoes need to be resoled or re-heeled make sure to get them taken care of. You don’t want to half step the impression you make on a potential employer.

One you’ve got the job, keep a jacket/blazer and additional dress shoes by your desk. This way, you’ll always be wardrobe ready if something important pops up!