Congratulations, you’ve accepted the job offer and it’s time to show up for your first day at the office. Those bright red pants may have been perfect for the fraternity mixer or tailgate, but starting a career calls for a different level of dress.
The obvious first step is accessing your environment. Chances are good if you were offered the job you knew how to dress during the interview process. Still, knowing a few basic rules will help you navigate the office dress code so you can spend your time climbing the corporate ladder.
Fit & Fabric Are Important
Important is an understatement. They’re paramount: critical may be better phrase. Look for and purchase high quality fabric and have your suits, trousers and sport coats tailored by a professional. Nothing looks worse than an ill-fitted suit or coat. Regardless of your body type, your clothes need to fit well and be of good quality fabric. (Bonus tip: wear your trousers around your waist, not your hips. Know the difference.)
Know What Shoes to Wear
It took years of buying nice suits, shirts and ties before I realized quality and style were important in shoes. Whether you’re wearing cap toes with leather soles in the law firm or suede bucks at the ad agency, quality and fit are paramount. Good quality footwear (which will cost you many pretty pennies) will last a long time if cared for properly and will let others see you appreciate and know quality. Buy top quality shoes and keep them clean and shined or free of spots and stuffs. (Bonus tip: start with a pair of Black cap toe and Burgundy loafers.)
Purchase the Basics & Classics
There is a reason navy blue suits and white shirts are worn from one generation to another. Sure, styles will always change. Lapels and ties will widen and shrink over time as well as the appearance of pleats or cuffs. Building a wardrobe around the basics of your style is important. And speaking of style, be careful with being too trendy or buying the latest item from the Paris runways. A solid navy, charcoal grey and navy pinstripe are good places to start. Find a knowledgeable clothing professional like Tom Shelton at Brooks Brothers who can help you look your best. (Bonus tip: always have a two-button navy blazer, a pair of nice kaki pants and cordovan penny loafers.)
Most men think the word “accessorize” applies to women’s hand bags and jewelry. Knowing what color and pattern of pocket square to wear can make your navy or khaki suit come to life. If your job requires a tie on a daily or frequent basis, they’re a great way to show your confidence and style. Pocket square and ties are a given. Be careful with the jewelry. Have a nice dress and casual watch and minimum rings and necklaces. Belts and scarves a neat touch too. (Bonus tip: never, ever, wear matching ties and pockets squares. The two should coordinate, not exactly match.)
Find a Reputable, Neighborhood Dry-Clearner
Get to know the employees and owner of your local dry-cleaners. I send all my dress shirts, including my “non-iron” shirts to the cleaner for laundering. Suits, blazers and sport coats should be dry-cleaned at least twice a year. (Bonus tip: I only use cleaners that perform all the work on-site. If there is an issue, they can fix it quickly instead of having to send back to a central plant.)