What to wear on the first day of a new job is a major decision. Catherine Hageman explores the politics of office dress.
Wear to Work
As new graduates (not to mention summer interns) begin their careers, one of the major decisions they'll face is what to wear on the first day of work.
At least it was a big deal for me. I remember my first-day-outfit - black pants with a white puffy-sleeve tee and an argyle sweater-vest.
The tee may have been a mistake, but the look is burned in my brain, thanks in part to the ID badge that I still use (and which causes the occasional double-take - I used to be a brunette!).
I began my career overdressing - blouses, black trousers and heels
every day. After a few weeks, I realized my work-environment was a
little more relaxed, the definition of business casual. But the truth
was that there were no set-in-stone rules about what we could and
couldn't wear - it was (and still is) a judgment call. I still remember
hearing from a co-worker that flip-flop-like shoes were unacceptable
only to look down at her feet and realize she was wearing them!
With no one telling me how to dress, I observed what my colleagues
wore - and went to my mom for advice. I started with safe black trousers
and branched out slowly. If black was a go, than I was reasonably
certain navy would be as well. If trousers worked, why not try nice
capris during the summer?
And maybe the most obvious path - I checked with my boss. Asking
questions, especially when there are no clear-cut rules around the
office dress code, shows your supervisor that you care about the
impression you make at work - and it's a lot easier to ask than to have
to explain an inappropriate clothing choice. After all, everything
speaks to who you are as a colleague and employee - whether it's the
state of your desk or the outfits you wear every day.
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