While some jobs have uniforms or very strict attire requirements, most jobs these days rely on unspoken adherence to a professional-but-casual look. Not sure you know it when you saw it (or wore it)? Here are four strategies to breaking the business casual code.
Do this at the final interview—once you’ve begun the hiring process and aren’t as nervous to ask questions. Asking a lot better than not asking and coming to work on your first day looking like a fish out of water. Inquire in a casual manner and you should be golden. If you’ve met the team, you already have a few good clues there. If you haven’t, try and do so before your first day—if for no other reason than to scout out what they’re wearing.
Look to your boss
If your boss comes in every day in jeans and T-shirts, you’ll probably look like a chump if you come in wearing a suit. Conversely, if your boss turns out to the nines, you probably don’t want to venture lower than a collared shirt at the very least. Don’t out-dress your boss, but do keep in the realm of her typical attire.
Go for comfort
This doesn’t mean fat pants and a hoodie. It just means that you can’t possibly do your best work if you feel like an alien in your clothes. Try to find a balance between dressing to impress and not playing dress-up. There’s so much variety these days in dress codes that this shouldn’t be an issue in most fields.
Take the temperature
The culture of the office will tell you a lot. Try and read the environment you’re in; based on the qualities the company emphasizes, it shouldn’t be hard to determine what sort of dress they will expect. You could end up making everybody else uncomfortable if you veer too casual or too formal from the workplace vibe.