Dressed for success: 3 ways to look more professional in your new job

Nov 3, 2019

Being dressed for success is a simple enough concept, but it can have a big impact on how successful you are in your new career. In this article, Rachel Clinkard of iconic British footwear retailer Charles Clinkard shares her top tips for looking as professional as possible right out of the gate.

After getting a degree, perfecting your CV, nailing your interview, and finally receiving that dream job offer, you may feel like the hard work is over.

But the impressions that you make when you start your new graduate role can have a big impact on how you are perceived by your peers and superiors — and can even influence how quickly you can progress in your career.

By conducting yourself professionally, including looking the part, you may find you have a better relationship with your clients and co-workers, as you’ll come across as more capable and trustworthy. As a result, you could even be more likely to be considered for promotion. 

It’s possible you’ve never had to dress professionally before, or maybe you want to know how you can improve your wardrobe and start getting taken seriously. Below, I’ll be taking you through three key ways you can look more professional in your new graduate job, so your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

Here’s how you can ensure that you are dressed for success at your next interview or your new job.

Consider the company’s dress code

In the last decade or so, many workplaces have chosen to embrace casual dress codes as they can increase productivity and even communication amongst staff, particularly in digital or marketing companies.

Despite this, it’s worth investing in a well-fitting suit, pantsuit, or skirt suit anyway. They help you make a positive impact at interviews, give you presence during important meetings, and come in handy anywhere you want to make a solid first impression.

Plus, you can mix-and-match the individual pieces with more casual items of clothing to produce lots of different smart-casual looks.

You will need plenty of suits and formal options if you work in business or finance, as these industries are more rigid and traditional when it comes to dress codes.

To make sure you get it right, you should ask about your new employer’s policy during the interviewing stage or email your point of contact if you’ve already secured the position.

Alternatively, it’s easy enough to research the company and check their social media accounts to get an idea of their culture and how formal you should go.

Focus on your shoes

Many graduates make the mistake of focussing too much on their clothing and forgetting about their shoes.

Getting your shoe choice right is a crucial factor when it comes to ensuring that you are dressed for success.

‘You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes’ is an adage for a reason: people do tend to notice your footwear within the first few seconds of you meeting them, and they can even make assumptions about your personality based on the style and condition of the shoes you’ve chosen to wear.

To make sure you’re coming across as professional, stick to leather shoes rather than suede, canvas, or other materials.

Which colour leather to go for depends on the tone of your outfit and your personal taste, but they should be clean, free of scuffs and scrapes, and polished. Dress shoes and brogues are the most formal and appropriate, but modern workwear also considers loafers to be a wardrobe staple for professionals.

Ladies, don’t feel like you have to wear heels to look the part. People will respond much better if you look comfortable as well as professional, so stick to some stylish flats if that’s what you prefer.

The finishing touches

Attention to detail is the key to elevating a work outfit from basic to professional.

It’s also a great way to get across your personality, which is very important if you want to make a lasting impression, forge strong business relationships, and rise quickly through the ranks of your chosen career.

Ties, pocket squares, and even your socks can be used to add pops of colour to your look, and accessories such as cufflinks, tie pins and your style of reading glasses can be used to give your whole outfit polish.

Most importantly, your workwear should always be clean. That includes ironing, pressing, and hanging up your clothes to keep them free of creases.

Even a very expensive tailored suit will look shabby if it’s crumpled; conversely, a t-shirt or a pair of jeans could be smart enough to wear to a casual workplace if they look crisp and neat.

Making a good impression is crucial during the early stages of your career.

By following the tips in this guide, you can be confident that you look the part in your new role. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post on how to ensure that you are dressed for success for your next interview or graduate job.

If you’re a graduate and are about to embark on your graduate career, check out The Graduate Book. It contains everything you need to know to do really well at work.

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