I say! Congratulations on your new job!! You’re winning at life right now. You’ve got a pay rise, you’re closer to the career you want, someone has said “I need you and your unique set of skills for the betterment of my work team” And as if this wasn’t enough to prompt darning your smug socks: you now have a clean slate! A new office, new colleagues, new office politics, crushes.. the list goes on.
First day looms and you’re frantically sorting the final touches for your first week’s outfits. What will look professional? What will shout 'Take me seriously! I’m here to succeed.' Nerves rise like a first day of school (if you work in a uniform, then I would suggest skipping this article and going to read some sex tip articles instead. You girls are hot property. Well jel.)
Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s a difficult balance to strike. First impressions are so frighteningly important - as the career minded young lady you are, you don’t want to let yourself down.
On a personal note, I remember clearly, as a new graduate, my father finding me, in the dark, rummaging through my floordrobe for a crumpled black shirt and saying, in a Brady Bunch tone 'Remember Madeleine, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.'
I was pulling pints at the time, for £6.25 an hour and didn’t think my manager would appreciate me rocking up in a Jaeger power-suit but I took the point.
Here are a few nifty tips to start you off in good stead:
Even if you consider yourself to be somewhat of a fashionista, do NOT go in all guns blazing on your first day in your Sex and the City style tutu and pillar box lippy. You will immediately alienate yourself. As the newbie you will be scrutinized and finely picked apart by the established office mafia so give them as little as possible to talk about. Plain, smart, middle of the road expensive, nothing bling. Once you’ve done your initial wrecky you can begin to pepper your look with your own fabulousness.
Identify office trends
Every office has some element of cohesive style. Funnily enough, studies have found that this natural trending improves team work. It is crucial to immediately identify these trends so you can dive into office culture and blend. Say you’re joining a painfully cool design company in Shoreditch where they all where crocs to meetings – without irony. You don’t wanna miss out! You won’t be one of the gang. It’ll be like when you were the only one without a Spice Girls lunchbox all over again. Just me on that one? Cool. When Audrey started work at a popular health food seller Viva la Planet (Name changed to protect worker) as an Assistant Buyer she made the ultimate awkward faux pas: 'Everyone was wearing eco-friendly shoes made of hemp. My shoes had never felt so leathery that day. I felt like the animal they were made of had come back to haunt me and was eating my feet off. The shame.'
Focus on the boss
Back in 2013, results from a Debenhams study showed that two thirds of senior employees found themselves unwittingly drawn to colleagues that dressed in a similar style to themselves. It is a known fact that humans are subconsciously attracted to similar looking people and fear difference, so why not capitalise on this sad non-progressive fact? Note: Emulating style does not mean dressing the same like a creepy copycat. It’s one thing to emulate and quite another to rifle through a gym bag checking where their underwear was purchased. Found in this position you will not progress at work. You will be sectioned.
Instead, use this handy tip: Pick three broad adjectives describing how your boss dresses and adhering to those yourself.
Slick, Tailored, Monochrome
Bohemian, Floral, Relaxed
1970’s sexual predator, tracksuit chic, seedy (if your boss dresses like this then do not emulate the style, leave your job before you get fiddled with in the photocopier room)
And if your boss is male?
Luckily the above tip works for men as well. Because it is a clever tip.
Set aside budget
Once you’ve sussed out the vibe (this should take about a week.. you must move quickly!) then don’t feel guilty about having a bit of a splurge and a wardrobe re-jig with money you have set aside – work clothes can cost a blahdy bomb. Spend money on the stuff you’ll wear all the time (the basics) and build a mixy-matchy type system around those. Save statement pieces for the weekend, unless you work in fashion and the pressure is ON: 'I worked for Net-a-Porter for 3 years' says Sally* 'and although we got a massive discount on everything, I felt a major pressure to keep in-office-style, i.e. the height of fashion. I had to leave – I was actually losing money working there!'
A final word:
Being presentable is increasingly important now roles, in almost every industry, are increasingly front-facing, so in some ways, how we dress is a very real thing to think about. Not too much, though! At the end of the day, you’re not going to be employed because you happen to wear cornflower blue to an interview, which happens to be your bosses favourite colour, and the office wallpaper is cornflower blue and it happens to make your eyes pop. It’s all about that brain, bout that brain, (no trouble) (to the tune of All About That Base… if that wasn’t obvious).
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Follow Madeleine on Twitter @MissMadeleineK
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.