It’s never great to show up somewhere only to see you are sorely underdressed. Oscar Wilde once said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated,” and he definitely has a point. It is always better to be dressed too well than to feel like the only one who didn’t get the memo. Especially when it comes to dressing professionally, there are a lot of questions people have on what is appropriate to wear and what is not. Although fashion is subjective, there are some objective, unspoken “rules” that should be taken into consideration when putting together an outfit for a professional setting. It is poor etiquette to show up in an outfit that’s too casual or too sloppy, so here are some of the do's and don'ts of dressing professionally.
Do: Ask about the dress code.Sometimes the simplest question is the most effective. If you’re not sure about how casual or dressy the attire should be, just ask. Something as simple as, “Is there a dress code?” gives off the intention that you want to dress appropriately and want a little direction. It’s polite and will likely give you a definite answer as to how to dress.
Don't: Take too much of a fashion risk.If you’re not sure about that extremely trendy yet borderline risqué skirt, maybe you should save it for a time that’s not as professional or important.
Do: Opt for conservative pieces.When in doubt, cover it up. You’d rather be covering too much skin than showing too much. Sometimes a too-low top is too offensive for people to handle. Know your audience and keep it conservative when you’re not sure if something is too scandalous.
Don't: Wear ill-fitting clothes.You come off a lot less professional when you’re swimming in a drab sweater and baggy pants. Take Bustle’s advice and make sure your pants are hemmed, fit well, and your outerwear is tailored.
Do: Find fashionable shoes that are just as practical.There’s no harm in sporting a stylish pair of shoes in a professional setting. There is harm, however, when you spend a lot of time standing and choose impractical stilettos that aren’t broken in. To avoid awkward situations and unimaginable pain, make smart shoe choices. Lyst’s idea to wear classic ballet flats is a timeless style move that’ll never fade.
Don't: Wear anything too out-of-date.Sure, some throwbacks have proven to be fashion gold, but keep the outdated styles of out of the workplace. CNN notes that looking outdated can give off the impression that you lack fresh ideas, and that’s not quite the best career move.
Do: Be mindful of what everyone is wearing.If you’re not sure how your clothing will stack up to what everyone else wears, do a little research to see how people dress at the place or event you will be attending. If it’s your first day on the job, try to think back to how everyone was dressed when you walked in for your interview. If it’s a networking event, see if you can find photos from previous years or similar occasions.
How do you determine what is most appropriate to wear? What are your favorite professional dressing tips?