Understanding Office Dress Codes

Starting a new job comes with quite a few uncertainties. Will you work well with your new team? Are your projects going to be fulfilling? What should you even wear around the office? While that last one might sound trivial, figuring out your office dress code is important, and sometimes the HR department spewing the words “business casual” isn’t enough to paint the perfect picture. That’s why we’re laying out some easy guidelines for understanding your office dress code below.

Take cues from other people in the office, especially those who are higher-up.

Your place of work might practice a casual dress code, but if no one else in your office is wearing graphic tees and converse, you shouldn’t either. Take note of how those in positions above you present themselves. Their version of casual may lean more towards something like a plain tee paired with flats, dark jeans, and a few accessories. The same goes for business attire and business casual — it’s best to use those around you as inspiration for your own office wardrobe.



If you’re questioning your outfit choice, you should probably pass on it. 

As a general rule of thumb, if you have to ask whether or not something is appropriate, it probably isn’t. Stick to pieces of clothing you know are in the safe zone. Chances are, if you had to question your outfit, your colleagues might be questioning it, too.


Be careful that your business casual isn’t too casual.

A business casual dress code is often one of the most confusing to abide by. In general, it means a healthy mix of both casual and more professional pieces. Jeans are in the clear with business casual, but stick to a dark-washed pair and leave the older, distressed jeans for the weekend. A plain, fitted tee is often okay as well, but that over-sized one imprinted with your favorite band’s logo might be best off staying in your drawer. And while some people in the office might wear a nice pair of dressy sandals, that doesn’t mean you can march in with a pair of flip flops.


It’s better to be a little overdressed than underdressed.

At the end of the day, it never hurts to be a little bit more on the dressy side. We recommend keeping a few “safety” items around so that you never feel too underdressed. Things like jewelry and accessories, a professional pair of shoes (heels, flats, dress shoes), and a blazer can instantly dress up any outfit.

Do you have anymore questions about office attire? Let’s talk in the comments below!


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