Everyone gets anxious when applying for a new job, but no case of nerves is worse than what you experience on the first day of work. In most cases, women who get nervous on their first day explain that their clothes have a lot to do with why they feel anxious – they’re worried about being inappropriately dressed.
If you’ve ever been employed before, it’s very likely that you won’t mess up. Nonetheless, most women are concerned that their corporate attire won’t align with the company’s culture. If that’s the case or if it’s your first job, we’ll provide some guidelines on how can nail getting dressed on the first day of work.
What Your Outfit Needs to Look Like
Suitable For Office Temperatures
For one, your outfit needs to adapt to office temperatures, which usually run on the colder side. This implies that you should always carry a practical item that can keep you warm indoors, such as a cardigan, blazer, or sweater.
Sure, sleeveless blouses can look classy in a work environment, but if you intend to not freeze up, make sure to keep warm. After all, you’re only productive when your body is at the right temperature.
Next up, you need to ensure that your outfit has a comfortable fit i.e. they need to fit well but allow plenty of room to breathe. If you’re working in a traditional office environment, your shift will be split into periods of being endlessly glued to your desk and short bursts of sprinting down the hallway to get drafts approved from multiple departments before a deadline.
Therefore, your outfit should have two-way functionality, not just for your first day of work, but rather for the entire duration of your employment. Every element of your outfit needs to be breathable (to a certain extent) and allow adequate blood circulation.
At the same time, your outfit should have a (somewhat) professional vibe. And you don’t have to waste lots of money, you can still look stylish as a young professional on a budget. For highly corporate environments, you’ll have to stick to formal attire. On the other hand, modern co-working spaces have flexibility when it comes to the dress code. This means you can mix and match corporate and smart casual elements to make creative combinations.
The goal for dressing professionally is that your coworkers, superiors, and department head take you seriously.
By functional, we mean that you shouldn’t struggle with your outfit because it doesn’t meet your needs. For example, if your job involves moving from one department to another, pockets are necessary so your phone stays with you throughout.
Similarly, if your job needs you to take documents home and carry them back to work, your bag needs to be spacious enough to accommodate a few files.
Business Formal (Best for a Manager)
Let’s start with the highest tier of corporate attire, business formal. In this dress code, employees are expected to retain a high standard when it comes to their appearance. If your workplace follows such a dress code, you’ll be expected to wear a pantsuit or skirt (suit) with heeled shoes.
If you want to accessorize, keep it modest and minimal. If you’re applying for a manager position, you may have to invest in some business formal attire.
In case you’ve yet to go shopping, some of the wardrobe elements you’ll need to get include:
A staple for any corporate work environment, you’ll need to wear a blazer every day to fit in with the business formal dress code. Since it’s strictly conservative, stick to black on your first day. Take a week or so to see the on-site dress code (whether your co-workers wear different colored blazers) before investing in a white or grey-colored blazer.
A pencil skirt is a must for every woman’s wardrobe arsenal, especially if she needs to dress ‘business formal’. These have a figure-hugging appeal that suit hourglass body types and even pear-shaped body types.
Of course, if you’d prefer something a little less fitting for your first day, you can choose from other mid-length styles, such as a pleated skirt. Just like with your blazer, opt for black since it’s easier to keep clean and doesn’t let stains show easily.
Paired with a crisp shirt and blazer, you’ve got the perfect suit. Get high-rise dress pants so they tuck in any bulges to give a smooth silhouette. Before you can wear different colors, we’d suggest that black is the safest route.
A white cotton dress shirt will go best with contrasting black dress pants or skirt and a blazer. Since white may stain easily, make sure not to invest too much in these shirts. Instead of going to high-end brands, go to the clearance rack at fast fashion brands and supermarkets. You can then get them tailored for a better fit.
Pointed Toe Pumps
Black pumps, preferably with a pointed toe, suit a corporate environment with a business formal dress code.
You also need to carry your essentials in a formal handbag, such as a tote. Your bag should be neutral colored and mustn’t have too many embellishments.
If you want to accessorize, we think it’s best to keep things minimal with a delicate watch.
Taking one step down from business formal, you’ve got the business professional dress code. In this, you’ll enjoy a little flexibility, but you still need to dress conservatively. You can wear different kinds of pants, like tapered or wide-legged pants instead of just dress pants.
Skirts will still need to be mid-length, but you can wear a different jacket, like a short coat. In the shoe department, you can skip on higher heels and opt for kitten heels instead so it’s more comfortable to stay on your feet. Check out some of the easiest heels to walk in, in that article!
Most importantly, you can also glam up when it comes to accessories. This means statement necklaces, chunky bracelets, and wide-strapped watches.
Tapered pants give a better fit than traditional dress pants so your outfit gets a fashionable appeal. You can choose from different colors too, such as cream, beige, navy, and white.
Knit Jacket Or Cutaway Blazer
One of the most annoying things about traditional blazers is that they have uncomfortable collars. Therefore, choose a light knit jacket or a cutaway blazer so you stay warm and look professional at the same time.
You don’t only have to wear cotton dress shirts in a business professional environment. Diversify your wardrobe with attractive blouses in modest colors and in slowing fabrics like crepe or chiffon.
Midi skirts are a go-to for any work environment, but if your office has a business professional dress code, you can opt for checked prints and a wider range of colors.
Although pointed toe pumps are preferred, business professional is all about being a little more relaxed. Therefore, kitten heels and rounded toe pumps are a suitable option and that too, in different colors like camel and navy.
Structured Bag for a Woman
Instead of having to carry a formal purse in modest colors, you can carry a well-structured bag in a variety of colors and embellishments.
Feel free to wear eye-catching jewelry such as a statement necklace, chunky watches or cuffs, and even minimalist earrings.
The ideal balance between casual and professional attire, this dress code allows enough flexibility that you don’t have to wear stockings, a pantsuit, and pumps on a daily basis. You can switch it up. You can choose from a range of blouses, shirts, pants, dresses, and shoes.
When it comes to shirts, you can wear a variety of blouses in different colors and prints. In the pants department, different styles include wide-legged pants, tapered pants, khakis, and structured trousers. You can wear dresses too, as long as they’re neutral colored or have minimal patterns. There are many little black dress styles that you can choose from as well!
For the shoes, we think that a pair of black flats will do a good job of combining professionalism and comfort on the first day.
Instead of a formal blazer, you can wear a cardigan or light jacket. Other outfits you can wear include jumpsuits; just make sure they’re ironed and have a neutral color. One important rule to remember when you’re dressing for a workplace with a business casual dress code is to not wear t-shirts or jeans.
In a business casual environment, khaki pants are a great choice if you want to stay comfortable without compromising on a professional appeal. Khaki pants come in different shades, so if you want to avoid staining, opt for a darker shade so they’re easier to wash.
The whole point of a business casual dress code is that it’s less conservative than the rest. In this case, short-sleeved blouses and tops get the green light. Although sleeveless tops should be part of your work wardrobe, steer clear of them for your first day of work. Wait a few weeks until you’re ready to bear your arms.
There are many types of dresses out there, and work dresses are a little complex to navigate. On your first day, a shift dress will look best because it shows that you’re ready for the job and aren’t getting too comfortable (yet). After a couple of weeks, you can move onto more casual options, such as a little black dress (we believe every girl needs a little black dress to avoid outfit struggles!) or a wrap dress with a pop of color.
When it comes to shoes, you can relax and keep your feet comfy in slacks or ballet flats. Of course, we’d always suggest that you wear flats because they give a more professional look, and what better pair than Everlane’s Day Flat.
Although we don’t want anyone to be late on their first day of work, if you’re scared of not getting there on time, you need an option to get dressed quickly. Therefore, we think that a formal romper or jumpsuit will do the trick.
Lastly, you’ll need a sturdy bag to carry all your essentials. Since your new office has a business casual dress code, you can carry a spacious but structured backpack. This will offer all the flexibility of holding everything you need but at the same time, it’ll look chic and elegant.
Casual (common in a startup)
When you’re dressing for a casual dress code, there’s plenty of freedom in terms of what you can wear. Some of the few things you can’t wear include un-ironed clothes, shirts with political or offensive messages, and clothes have holes or are ripped from multiple places. You’ll often see that startup companies have a casual dress code to boost morale and productivity among employees.
You can wear jeans (no distressed or chewed hems) and crew neck t-shirts in some offices as well. However, we’d suggest that you leave super casual outfits for later when you’re more familiar with how your coworkers dress.
Comfortable Pair Of Jeans
In a company with a casual dress code, you can wear jeans to work. However, that’s only if the dress code is really casual, like in a startup company, and not business casual. Nonetheless, you have to make sure that your jeans retain a specific degree of professional appeal.
Hence, make sure they’re properly ironed, well-fitted, and mid to high-rise so they don’t slip down. Most importantly, they shouldn’t be distressed or have frayed hems. The best styles of jeans for work are straight fitting, wide-legged, and cigarette pants. While skinny jeans are acceptable, they’re not the most modest choice for your first day.
Basic Crew Neck T-Shirts
For casual dress code, plain t-shirts are acceptable. But before you try out colorful options, it’s best to test the waters with black and white colored shirts.
While a structured bag looks very professional, a casual dress code means you can carry just about any type of bag you’d like. If you take classes, a normal backpack will do just fine, too.
Casual means comfortable, so why go through the hassle of wearing heels to work at all? Instead, invest in a good pair of white sneakers. These will look chic and stylish, but not too casual. Just make sure to keep them clean. An easy way to do so is to wipe them down every day after work, so they stay clean for longer.