Nobody said your climb up the corporate ladder was going to be easy. Years and years of hard work will eventually pay off (or so we’re told in this grand meritocracy we live in), but there are a few ways you can skip a step or two. Inviting the boss and his wife over for dinner? Yeah, maybe. But we’re speaking more to your style. After all, they don’t tell you to dress for the job you want for nothing. So, in your best interests, we ask you to avoid any of these moves in the workplace.
Swimming in Your Suit
You know how you can always spot the one guy in the room who looks great in a suit? There’s nothing particularly better about his suit than any other, except for the fact that it’s tailored and fits him like it should. Be the man in the boardroom that has the best suit. The extra care you pay will earn you dividends in the form of confidence others have in you.
Going Too Casual
Here in the Millennium, we’re nothing if not champions of casual attire. More and more offices are ditching stodgy dress codes for something a little more comfortable. In fact, Mass Mutual has even left it entirely up to their employees. But before you throw on your graphic T-shirt and almost too-ratty jeans, think. You are still a professional. Denim should be dark, clean, and well-fitting. T-shirts, if you’re going that route, should be solid and structured. Don’t go too far past that casual line.
With winter chills on the horizon, you’ll probably be wearing a beanie semi-regularly, if not daily. And though it looks really good outdoors and in, you’re best off removing it once you get to the office. Wearing one indoors is an old (like, really old) way of telling your host you think their roof could cave at any moment. Not the best message to send to the bigwigs upstairs, is it? (Don’t worry, you can still wear it on Saturday.)
If you feel the slightest tug on your jeans, suit pants, or chinos coming from your shoes, get thee to a tailor immediately. Repeated crushing by your soles will slowly but surely destroy your pants and make you look more like a college slob than a college graduate. A working wardrobe should be as crisp as possible at all times.
This has less to do with you and more to do with your superiors. But we’ve often heard tales of young guns making a bit too much of a statement with their clothes at work. Peacocking in the cubicle sends a strong message that isn’t always well received. Instead of busting out the killer suit with the crazy shirt, the animal tie, and the obviously designer shoes, try and keep things more subtle. Not boring, but subtle. Just like in a meeting, nobody wants to hear somebody shout too loudly.
The Too-Old Shoe
Depending on your commute, your work shoes may take quite a beating. Though it may pain you to visit the department store or reorder them off the web, do your best to make sure your shoes are nice and clean. Nothing ruins a great suit faster than a pair of shoes that’s past their prime. Some scuffs and wear are okay, but if you start seeing tears in the leather or stains that won’t quit, put ‘em out to pasture.
The Corporate Drone
The great democratization of workplace dress codes has left us with an entirely new problem, an army of corporately dressed drones in “slacks” and blue shirts. While this satisfies the basic requirements of, you know, wearing clothes, it stymies your upward mobility. Do your best to be the guy who stands out in a sea of blue shirts. That doesn’t mean a white one, either. Try a subtle plaid, windowpane, or graph check. Just mix it up a little. Please!
The Wrinkled Mess
Getting a job is hard. You have to make sure you ace the interview, and you have to be sure you look like somebody who would ace the interview. That usually means a crisp suit. Don’t think that you being hired means you can start cutting corners. If your suit jacket, pants, or shirt is wrinkled, don’t wear it. Take it off and steam it (you should have a steamer at home by now) or put on an entirely new one. The man in a wrinkled shirt never gets promoted.