In just the past five years the world of work has changed as well as the clothing we wear for it! Of particular importance is how the tech industry changed the course of business wear as we know it. Whether you’re an engineer or a programmer, what you wear can add or detract from your career aspirations. What was once considered “Business Casual” is simply business as usual. Inasmuch as we want to dress down, it’s still important to look good and communicate instantly our expertise and professionalism. Although suits are definitely not a requirement with tech firms, options might include a jacket and maybe jeans; but there is a right and a wrong way to approach these. Here are some basic tips for communicating your expertise and position instantly to others:
• Focus on classic styles that have endured such as tailored notch collar shirts and blouses, blazers, A-line skirts, cardigans, trench coats, and shirtwaist dresses.
• Keep the look simple and clean accessorizing for impact with gold, silver, pearls or jewel tones to add sparkle and affluence to your best asset – your face.
• Incorporate fabrics that have body such as cotton/poly blends and heavier knits that are opaque.
• Create a slimmer appearance by wearing darker colors such as navy, burgundy, charcoal and black.
• If in the field, realize that you are communicating the brand image so dress professionally yet comfortably, if the environments vary widely. If jeans are permitted they should be a dark wash, fit at the natural waist, and be hemmed not dragging.
• Build your wardrobe around the neutrals such as black, taupe, navy, camel, gray and olive and add color in tops, scarves and belts.
• When meeting with a prospective client, consider a jacket with a fitted shirt and trousers. Also consider tunic tops with pants and a short jacket for interest. If you want to go sleeveless do so but wear a jacket or cardigan.
• When dining with clients consider simple pants or skirts with interesting tops and jackets. Consider a dark colored dress with a shawl around the shoulders. As well consider a fitted shirt worn out with black pants and a blazer or a mid calf skirt and an over blouse or tunic belted.
• Consider unstructured jackets such as jean jackets and cargo pants with limited detailing but avoid “hoodies,” hats and sweats. Pants and skirts need to land at the natural waist or a little below but avoid hip-hugger styles. • To create a slim line and add height, incorporate vertical lines either decoratively in the fabric pattern or structurally as in vertical darts, princess seams, or a placket down the front. Also consider incorporating long chains or scarves around the neck, as well, as three quarter length sleeves. When wearing a jacket put the collar up.
• Avoid tight clothing rather introduce simple angular lines such as A-line skirts, tailor-notched collar shirts and blouses and tailored jackets to offset the roundness of the body and bring it into balance. Plain front pants and skirts are recommended over pleated varieties. Bottom line – realize that your appearance counts at work no matter what you do!
Usually when it comes to a job interview a suit is the order of the day. But what if you are going for a job in the tech industry, as a fashion coordinator with a retailer or perhaps a fryer cook at Wendy’s? No matter what, make sure you look your best and that your clothes are clean and pressed without lost buttons and holes. Dressing sexy and revealing skin or tattoos doesn’t work for any job position you’re aiming for.
• If you don’t know what is normally worn, find out from the administrative assistant or wander incognito at the firm and observe what employees and supervisors wear. Depending on the corporate culture, the type of job, where you live and what you do, you may be wearing a suit, either pant or skirted variety or a less formal ensemble such as trousers and a sweater set or blazer but whatever you wear dress up a step from what is normally worn. Avoid jeans and sequins.
• If jackets are optional or jeans are permitted consider a fitted shit over pressed trousers with a blazer.
• Be coordinated. Not everything goes with everything but consider starting with a neutral such as camel, dark brown or black, in your trousers, skirt or blazer and go from there.
• Accessorize for impact but don’t overwhelm. Avoid flip-flops and sandals and opt for loafers or pumps with a moderate heel, that are cleaned and polished.
• Practice personal hygiene from head to toe and make sure your nails are manicured but not in the spot light.
· When doing charity for the company such as working in a soup kitchen wear good jeans so you are able to function. As well, if working with Habitat for Humanity, make sure the clothes you wear are clean and neat. Jeans or tops with holes or stains do not communicate a positive image about you or the company that you represent.
· Often if you wear a uniform you will be asked to wear it when working at a remote site for the company. Make sure that it’s clean and pressed.
· How about a charity golf classic? Consider light trousers or walking shorts in neutrals with polo or golf shirts and the appropriate shoes if you’re playing, deck shoes if you’re not. For women consider walking shorts and flats with a sweater depending on the climate.
· For an evening function, with drinks and dinner at TGI Fridays consider nice slacks or your good jeans and a shirt or top. Make sure to accessorize to complete the outfit.
· If it’s a more formal dinner or gala, men would do best with a jacket and slacks or a suit and women might consider a black dress (LBD) or dressy separates such as a tunic and pant worn with a great shawl and a dramatic belt.
o In more traditional fields, men might consider a dark suit or a blazer and slacks with a dress shirt. Women will want to introduce bolder jewelry in gold, silver or pearls or an interesting piece that works well with the outfit. It’s a great way to get the conversation started.
· If the invitation says “casual” call the host to find out what it means. To some it includes a jacket for others it may not. Again, if jeans are permitted wear your good ones. Consider jeans, a tailored shirt and a jacket. Depending on the time of day, if it’s after 6, women might include fabrics such as acetate spandex in a variety of colors in tops and bottoms with an interesting cover. Bottom line when the invitation say’s casual don’t equate it with sloppy; in other words the warm up suit and athletic shoes won’t do.
· For breakfast and luncheon events during the week you will be wearing your clothes for work.
· For men, if invited to the boss’ house for dinner, to watch the Super Bowl, whether you are entertaining clients or not, put your best foot forward. In businesses where jeans are permitted consider dark colored twills like Dockers that are cleaned and pressed topped with a dress shirt tucked in, belted with nice shoes. Even if it’s a barbeque avoid the hoodie, hats, flip flops, and body piercings as you would when you go to work. Consider a good pair of jeans and a sport shirt that is pressed.
o If you are in a business where jackets are optional, consider dress slacks in a wool or cotton blend with a dress shirt tucked in and belted with a blazer. Or try a long sleeve dress shirt with a cardigan or sweater over the shoulders and trousers. If you’re invited for the annual Super Bowl party your good jeans and perhaps a turtleneck with or without a blazer.
o For businesses where suits are required, a sport coat or blazer will be the order when clients or potential clients are present at the boss’ house. Consider a button-down pinpoint oxford dress shirt with coordinating trousers in gray or taupe. If invited over to watch the Super Bowl or to a barbeque, consider denim trousers and a dress shirt with a V-neck sweater or a polo top and blazer.
· For women if you’re invited to the boss’ house to entertain clients or prospective clients, or for a barbeque or to watch the Super Bowl, consider these options if jeans are permitted at work. When entertaining clients consider slacks in dark colors with a tunic top belted or a dark skirt with a fitted blouse with a sweater over the shoulder or a nice jean jacket. Consider acetate spandex tops and bottoms with an over shirt. Make sure to accessorize for impact with earrings and interesting jewelry; however, keep the body piercings at home. For the barbeque or to watch the Super Bowl consider jeans or a denim skirt with layered tops or a shift. Try a turtleneck with your denim bottoms. Consider boots or sandals but no flip flops. Try to stay away from strapless sundresses and terry velour fabrics.
o If in a business where jackets are optional consider acetate spandex pants or skirts with interesting tops and jackets for dinner with clients. Consider a dark colored dress with a shawl around the shoulders. As well consider a fitted shirt worn out with black pants and a blazer or a mid calf skirt and an over blouse or tunic belted. For a barbeque or watching the Super Bowl, consider twill pants or skirt with a polo top and sweater over the shoulders or good jeans with a tunic blouse belted. Consider boots or tie shoes that are in good condition that coordinate. Accessorize with earrings and perhaps a dramatic piece at the neck for impact.
o If in a business where suits are require, for dinner at the boss’ house with clients, consider a black suit or a black dress. Accessorize with dramatic jewelry and dark sheer hosiery. Choose a simple silhouette with an interesting neck or other detail to speak volumes yet not be busy. Simple elegance is what you’re aiming for. When it comes to the barbeque or watching the Super Bowl, consider trousers or mid calf skirts, cardigans and turtleneck tops. Or choose an interesting blouse or tailored shirt worn over pants with an interesting belt.
Whatever your business, you will look great for any occasion when it’s after five and work related. These occasions are just important as during nine to five so give it as much consideration as when you are dressing for work. Look your best and there will never be the question of whether you’re over- or under- dressed for these events.