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Style SOS: What do I wear to my first day of work?

Style SOS: What do I wear to my first day of work?

"I start my first day at work in a few weeks, and I'm not sure what to wear to make the right first impression. Any suggestions?" - Paul via email

Congrats on the new gig! On your first day at a new job, remembering everyone’s names, sussing out where the snacks are, and figuring out how to adjust your swivel chair are all hard enough without fretting about what to wear. But, you’re right, first impressions are important. Walking through those doors with confidence, a spring in your step, and an affable smile will set the precedent for your professional journey ahead – and wearing a great outfit plays a big part in giving you that boost.

Firstly, if there is one, adhere to the dress code. While wearing a suit and tie can feel a little stifling, the plus side is that there’s no over-thinking required. Also, there is something to be said for suiting up. There’s no denying it makes you look like you mean business. “If you have to wear a suit, go for something in a neutral, classic colour like deep navy or charcoal grey,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “These colours are less severe than straight-up black and are super versatile.” You can then add a little personality in the form of accessories (more about that here), but we’d strongly advise you to dodge any novelty pieces – a Looney Tunes tie definitely does not say ‘I mean business’. “Go for a simple patterned or knitted tie to elevate your suit and make it more ‘you’,” Toby advises.

For that ever-elusive ‘smart casual’ dress code, default to a smarter style on your first day. It's always better to be slightly over-smart than to look like you haven’t made an effort at all. “To get this balance right, go for a knitted polo shirt in a spring shade along with an unstructured cotton blazer and a pair of selvedge denim jeans in a darker wash,” Toby says. “If you’re unsure about the jeans, try a pair of smart corduroy trousers instead with a simple knit.” Footwear-wise, Toby advises going for an inoffensive pair of trainers in either white or black or, if you’re going smarter, then a pair of suede desert boots

Having said this, employers are enforcing stringent guidelines on office attire less and less. So when the dress code is less apparent (or non-existent), think back to your interview. What were people wearing then? If you recall people wearing graphic hoodies and chunky trainers at your interview (hello, start up), then the ball is in your court. “The best first impression you can make is an authentic one, so wear what you feel most confident and comfortable in,” Toby (wisely) advises.

Before you head out the door, one final tip: whatever you wear, ensure there are a few layers to take on and off as needed. Offices tend to either be too cold or too hot. And you definitely don’t want to be the ‘sweaty new guy’ on day one – not a good look. Now go forth, prosper, and try your best to remember everyone’s names. 


Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Illustration: Ryan Gillett