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Professional Dress Do’s and Don’ts

Professional Dress Do’s and Don’ts

Dressing for success is something we’ve heard for as long as we can remember, but lately it’s hard for any of us to put on anything dressier than your nicest pair of sweatpants. However, research has shown time and again that the clothes you wear can have a strong impact on your mindset, which is where the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” comes into effect. 

But is dressing up really that important? Do people really pay that much attention to what I’m wearing?

Easy answer, yes.

However, there are many factors to consider when it comes to dressing professionally. What message are you trying to send? What industry are you in? How do you emulate a strong sense of professionalism while maintaining your personal style? What about cost?

Let’s break this down. 

Fashion your outfits to your industry

Determining your professional look can start with a simple question- what industry are you in? A CEO at a fashion magazine would likely have different fashion needs than a freelance journalist for local newspapers. Ultimately, it starts with determining the necessities of your wardrobe. How much standing/walking/moving will you be doing during the day? If it’s a lot, you’ll need to make sure you have sensible shoes. But sensible doesn’t have to mean boring! There’s a variety of simple flats that are both fashionable and easy on your feet if you’re handling long days without getting to sit down. 

On the other hand, if you have a job that involves mainly office dwelling, you may have a bit more leeway. There’s opportunity for a wide variety of looks since you don’t need to worry about keeping your outfit manageable for excess movement or being on your feet all day. 

No matter what you do for a living, there are ways to keep your look sharp without having to compromise comfort. 


Once the needs of your wardrobe are met, the next consideration is what you’re looking to portray with your look. For example, bold colors such as red can strongly emulate confidence and strength. Earth tones such as blues, greens, or neutral colors can radiate peaceful or calming energy, and are often used in the legal world. However, something to keep in mind is the palette that compliments your coloring. If you’re not a fashionista or an expert in choosing colors for your wardrobe, the main considerations are your skin tone, your eye color, and your hair color when selecting your wardrobe. 

Additionally, it’s important to keep several neutral tones on hand that you can use for any outfit. This allows you to have a chance to include a pop of color in any way that you would like if you’re in a job that is particularly stiff in the style department. If you wear suits or pantsuits often to work, a bright pair of shoes, a colorful pin, or a fun tie can make a statement while sticking with the requirements of your position.

What does your outfit say?

The last thing to consider when putting together your wardrobe is- what are you trying to say? How you dress can say a lot about you, and you hold the power over what you’re telling people when you dress for work. Conveying strength can be important when applying for a job, holding a management position, or meeting with a potential client for the first time. Calming earth tones or neutrals can present a non-threatening energy and can be helpful in the courtroom or in customer service positions. 

Dressing for work is really about the effort. Dressing for work is important whether you work at your kitchen table, a high powered corporate environment, serving tables, or anything in between.

Remember, your attitude will radiate through to your audience no matter what you wear. However, a well put together outfit will add an extra layer of strength, positivity, and make you feel more confident in any professional setting. This is your time to shine, so shine bright!