The phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” is used in almost every conversation about future job interviews and workplace attire. And it’s true — wearing professional business attire has others looking at you at in a higher regard. Studies even have shown you become more productive in professional dress. But dressing nicely can be a lot harder than it sounds. How do I know what appropriate office attire is? How much money do I put into my professional wardrobe before and after I have a job? What ways can I combine work clothing into my own personal style to feel more comfortable? It’s time to take a deep dive into the work attire question.
Building your workwear on a budget
If you already have a job, it’s always a good thing to expand your wardrobe. Last week, I finally made the leap to make an extensive update to my professional wardrobe. I was hesitant to look for new attire due to the fear of how expensive clothes can be. But when I journeyed online and at stores, I was surprised to find a lot of affordable workwear. Don’t get me wrong, you can easily spend thousands of dollars on clothes, but if you’re smart about it, you can get clothes that fit your budget.
Some ways to save include creating a simple look like a black suit that you can use throughout the week. Avoid shopping at higher-end stores like Neiman Marcus if you’re on a strict budget. Look at stores such as T.J. Maxx to find good deals to flesh out your wardrobe. Don’t worry about buying as much clothing as possible either. Investing in a few key pieces of clothing or outfits will leave you much better off than a bunch of clothes you’ll wear once and never wear again.
Do it for the culture
If you don’t have a job, find clothes to match the companies where you want to land a position. Before any job interview, you have to do your research on the company. While you’re looking into the company’s mission statement and benefits, you need to make sure you have a grasp on their company culture. Understanding the culture is key to figuring out how to dress appropriately for the interview. You want to dress like you’re already working there. If you dress at the same level as the company, the employers see you’re serious about the role and that you would be a good fit for them.
According to a Millennial Branding study, 43 percent of HR professionals believe that culture fit is the most important thing in the hiring process. Do your best to avoid over- and under-dressing if possible — it could have employers believe you don’t have a grasp of the company culture and might lead to another candidate. For example, Silicon Valley jobs have a very different dress code that is extremely lax. If you show up to an interview in a full suit, they will think you’re completely out of touch with the industry’s culture.
Having the appropriate attire for work is important. People not only will view you in a higher regard but you will actually become more productive, too. Dressing along the lines of the company’s culture shows employers you have an overall understanding of how their organization operates. You want to give employers the impression that you’re a great fit for the team. Building up your professional wardrobe will be a slow process, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but in the end, it’s worth the long-term investment.