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How to Dress for the Job You Want

Blog / April 12, 2018

It’s an old saying that you shouldn’t dress for the job you have, but for the job you really want. But as workplaces gradually become more and more casual, is that still true? It seems successful, well-known entrepreneurs and CEOs are often wearing t-shirts and jeans. But the truth is that how you dress does matter. It affects your self-confidence and how people treat you based on the judgments they make when they see your outfit. Here are some tips to help you dress for the job you want.

Make a good first impression

According to psychology studies, a person forms an opinion about you within seven to seventeen seconds of first meeting you. And even as they get to know you better, their impression of you will still be mostly colored by that first encounter. Clothing says a lot about you, who you are, and where you want to go. So wear something conservative and professional, so they can make some positive assumptions about you and deem you ready for that promotion.

Match those around you

Look around you and assess the dress code. Don’t just look at your peers, check out the higher-ups—the people you aspire to be. Are they wearing suits and ties? Or sweats and a t-shirt? Try to match it. But be selective about your matches. Don’t buy the exact same Brooks Brothers suit as your mentor. That seems creepy. Or like a brownnoser. Find a style that somewhere just above the median.

Take it up a notch

Up your game just a tad. If you usually sport jeans with a button down, try wearing khakis, corduroys, or wool trousers. You don’t have to wear a suit every day; you can dress up with accessories. Buy some nicer shoes, a string of pearls, a soft cardigan, or a nice blazer.

Invest in your career

Remember that investing in your professional wardrobe means you’ll have those items in your closet for years to come. So it’s especially worth it if that spiffy new outfit is the difference between you getting that promotion or being passed on for someone else. But make sure you’re subtle and reserved about it—don’t be flashy or arrogant. No one wants to help someone who’s already rich or showing off!

Make it a gradual change

If you go from super casual to finely tailored pinstripe suits overnight, people will talk. Either they’ll make fun of you or they’ll start to whisper about what your true motivations are. No one changes his style that quickly unless they’re looking for a new job. Make it a slow and steady transformation so that your co-workers barely notice.

Dress like a boss

Pay attention to the details of what you wear. Make sure your clothes are ironed or pressed, not wrinkled or dirty. Have them tailored so they fit you and look good on you. And groom yourself each morning to look refined, clean, and razor sharp. Trim your facial hair if you need to, reign in those eyebrow hairs, and get your hair trimmed every few weeks so you always look composed and fresh. Remember that the higher-ups are looking for the next face of the company!


For more information on how to make sure you’re best prepared for the next step in your career, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh