Knowing how to dress for success could be the tipping point in landing a new job, promotion, raise, and so much more! Here are some tips to look your best.

We’ve all heard the phrases “just for the job you want, not the job you have” and “dress for success”. 

Dressing in a professional manner can help boost your confidence, and it can help others take you seriously. But, what does dressing for success actually look like?

Check out this guide to discover how to dress for success. 

Understand Dress Code Terms 

Dressing for success doesn’t necessarily mean wearing the fanciest thing in your closet. A lot of times, dressing for success just means adhering to your workplace’s dress code. 

However, sometimes it can be difficult to interpret exactly what the dress code is. Here are the main types of dress codes you need to know about:

Business Formal 

If you work in a law firm, hold a high-level position, or you’re regularly meeting with executives, then business formal (also known as “boardroom attire”) is likely the dress code for you. This is the highest level of professional dress. 

For men, business formal means wearing tailored one-, two, or three-piece suits. You should stick to neutral colors such as gray, black, or navy. 

Your accessories and ties should be modest in color and design. In terms of footwear, you should avoid loafers and instead stick to close-toed Oxfords. 

For women, a well-cut skirt suit or pantsuit in a neutral color is a good choice. If you wear heels, make sure they’re closed-toe. If wearing a skirt, pair them with tights of a neutral color. Also, make sure that your skirt is no more than 2 inches above your knee. 

If you want to paint your nails, choose a neutral color or a clear coat. 

Business Professional 

Business professional is one step down from business formal. While still neat and traditional, business professional allows for a little more wiggle room. 

Men should stick to wearing one or two-button suits. You can also opt for pressed, light-colored dress pants paired with a sports jacket. Business professional allows for a little more fun in the tie department- don’t be afraid to wear some patterns and colors. 

For women, business professional means you don’t have to wear a pantsuit or skirt suit. Instead, you can pair your bottoms with a top or jacket in a neutral color. With business professional, you can also add in some fun jewelry, just as long as it’s not too distracting. 

Business Casual 

Business casual is perhaps the most common dress code in offices in America. With a business casual dress code, you’re given a lot more flexibility with what you wear and you can add in much more of your own personality. 

For men, this means you can wear colored, button-up shirts with collars. Patterns on shirts and ties are fine, just as long as they are conservative.

You can also opt for a pullover sweater over a button-up shirt. You can pair your top with pressed khakis or black dress pants. 

For women, business casual means you can wear dress skirts or dress pants with any sort of dressy shirt, just as long as it’s not too brightly-colored or revealing. 

Larger jewelry is acceptable, as are scarves. For shoes, you can wear heels, loafers, or flats- just make sure they’re closed-toe. 

It’s important to keep in mind that business casual is a broad term, and it can mean a lot of different things to different organizations. Before you begin your first day of work, you should check with HR to see what’s appropriate. 

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A casual dress code offers the most leeway. However, just because an office has a casual dress code doesn’t mean you should throw all professionalism out the window. 

You should still make sure that your nails and hair are neatly groomed. Additionally, make sure your shoes are clean (even if they’re just sneakers) and stick to closed-toe shoes. 

Casual offices typically allow longer hair and facial hair for men, but make sure to check beforehand. Non-traditional hair colors are also typically allowed. 

Be Well-Groomed 

Whether you work in a business formal or business casual environment, you should always be well-groomed for the job. 

Make sure your nails are clean and trimmed and your hair is neatly styled. Also, make sure your clothes are wel-pressed. While it can cost extra money to take your clothes to the dry cleaners, freshly pressed clothes go a long way in boosting your appearance. 

It’s also a good idea to add a dab of perfume or cologne. Just make sure that the scent you select isn’t too overpowering and that you’re not putting on too much. 

Pay Attention to the Details 

If you want to dress for success, you need to pay attention to the details. 

One of the best ways to show that you’re paying attention to the details is through your accessories. No matter what the dress code at your work is, wearing a nice watch can really help boost your outfit. 

For men, adding in small accessories like cuff links or a handkerchief can really help you look more presentable. While jewelry can be a great way to add detail to your outfit, you want to make sure that it doesn’t serve as a distraction. Either wear one larger piece or a couple of small, delicate pieces. 

How to Dress for Success: Are You Ready? 

Now that you know how to dress for success, it’s time to put these tips into action. As we mentioned earlier, dressing for success can help others take you more seriously and boost your confidence in the workplace, so it’s well worth the extra effort. 

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