Dressed to Backfoot! : What to Wear to Work
Congratulations! You’ve got the job and you start on Monday. Now what? Most people who start in a new company may find themselves in a pickle about what to wear. They may have spent hundreds or thousands (depending on your currency) on corporate suits and informal attire only to realize that they are in a smart casual or business casual culture.
As there is a globally understood standard about how to dress for an interview in the corporate world, there are a myriad of factors that can influence what to wear once you’ve landed the job. What determines what is acceptable attire, is the Dress Code Policy of the organization that has hired you. This may be influenced by the sector of industry, climate of the country/region, the culture of the country and the culture of the organization. This is a brief and very simple summary of factors. Within cultures, there are sub-cultures and within sectors are standards for professionalism and safety. So, what can you do to better acclimatize to your new environment without losing your identity?
Firstly, the interview process is not just for the organization to get to know you, but for you to get to know them – take a look (if you can) at the everyday wear of the employees. Do they wear uniforms or business casual? Is it an environment where the strata is obvious by who wears what or is it more relaxed?
Then, on the first day (or, if you can get your hands on it before), read the Dress Code Policy. See what it says about how employees are expected to dress. With many laws changing to be more equitable, diverse and less biased, some employers are very specific whilst others are more accommodating.
Finally, ask. If you know that you don’t know, then how else are you ever going to know? Ask. Find out from your Supervisor or HR Department what you can be expected to wear, or if they have options not readily stated from the on-boarding process.
A quick rule of thumb is provided by Caribbeanjobs.com in their article on professional dress in the Caribbean:
1. Cut – You should avoid clothes that are badly cut or revealing.
2. Colour – This means that colours that are garish and/or too busy should be avoided.
3. Fit – [It’s] very important to consider [avoiding] fittings that are either too baggy or too tight.
As times and legislations change to be more accommodating, bear in mind that tried and true methods and styles will serve you better in the long run. Classic comportment and elegance are never poor choices.
-Written By Chantel Baker