The business of fashion: What to wear to suit your office dress code

Expectations about how both men and women should dress in the workplace have changed a lot over the past few decades, with more companies adopting a business-casual dress code.

While most employees enjoy the freedom that a more relaxed dress code brings, it makes dressing for work more complicated than ever. And according to the research, a lot of us are getting it wrong: a survey by OfficeTeam revealed that 47% of senior managers think the most common dress code violation is “dressing too casually”, while 32% said it is “showing too much skin”.

Deciphering your employer’s dress code and wearing the clothes that will help get you noticed is crucial if you want to progress your career, which can be done through executive fashion and retail recruitment.

We’ve brought together these top tips to help you nail the dress code at your company each and every day. Read on to find out how.

Find out the dress code

First thing’s first, you need to find out how your employer expects you to dress before you start building your wardrobe around this style.

If you’re already working somewhere and you’ve noticed your colleagues tend to dress more or less formal than you, then it’s time to update your work wardrobe to represent the dress code everyone else is following. If you’re yet to start a new job, you should send an email in the build-up to your start date and get the official word on the matter so you can update your workwear if needs be.

If the dress code is formal, you’ll be expected to wear a suit and tie if you’re a man and a formal dress or suit if you’re a woman. On the other hand, if the dress code is casual, jeans and trainers should be fine.

Where most employees fall down is when an employer expects them to dress ‘smart-casual’. This is somewhere between formal and casual — think a button-down shirt and a pair of chinos. However, the ambiguity of this term can easily trip people up.

We asked Emma Burke, Online Editor at Jules B, for her tips on nailing the smart-casual look that more and more employers are setting as their dress code. She said: “The best thing to do is take a simple formal item and pair it with neutral colours and simple silhouettes to create a relaxed but considered look.

“If you want to make a bit more of a statement, pair smart tailored trousers with white sneakers and a button-down shirt or knitwear, depending on the season. Another really simple business-casual outfit for both men and women is a plain crew neck T-shirt teamed with a tailored blazer and jeans.”

Invest in quality essentials

Once you’ve deciphered your employer’s dress code, it’s time to adapt your wardrobe. Whether you’re buying formal or casual workwear, you should keep one rule in mind: focus on quality, not quantity.

No matter whether the dress code calls for T-shirt and jeans or a formal suit, making sure your clothes are always high-quality will send a great impression to your employer. You’re therefore a lot better off investing in a few top-quality staples than heading to your nearest high-street store and spending the same amount on several cheaper items.

Choose timeless designs made from quality materials, and no matter how casual the dress code, avoid anything emblazoned with brand names. Men should take a look at Men’s Health’s pick of the only 24 wardrobe essentials men need, while women can’t do wrong by investing in Elle’s 30 wardrobe essentials you should own by the time you’re 30.

You’re unlikely to be able to buy all of these investment pieces in one go, so just keep adding to your wardrobe over time and you’ll shortly have an office wardrobe that will have you looking your best every single work day.

Follow the advice we’ve shared in this guide and your style is sure to get noticed for all the right reasons, which is only going to help your career prospects.