Picture this. It’s your first day at a new job, and you’re about to walk into an office you might not have ever seen, save for a quick interview wherein you didn’t really get a grand tour of the place. So you pick out your favorite outfit, comb your hair just right, and head out. Then, you arrive only to find that you’re the only one in jeans while the rest of the crew is in dress slacks. Or, you’re totally overdressed in your suit and everyone else took the business casual route.
It’s a tricky thing, dressing for success, and most of us falter at one time or another figuring out exactly how to fit in while also standing out for all the right reasons. The good news? Unless you’re in a designated uniform, you don’t have to completely put your personality in a box and wear the same old monochromatic threads every time you go to work. With a little know-how and time, you can express your individuality and personal style while still meeting the workplace dress code with ease.
Here are a few ways you can shine.
1. Start with accessories. That grunge metal concert tee that you love? It might not be appropriate in a corporate environment. The same goes for that miniskirt you’ve rocked since your college days. Still, you can showcase your personality in more subtle ways and still reveal your interests and style. One great way to do so is to focus on accessories. For men, this might mean donning some interesting cufflinks that are sure to start a conversation. From skulls and crossbones to mini guitars, you can find ones that fit any niche, so don’t be afraid to play around a little here. For women, earrings are a great place to play around a little, as are other jewelry components such as bracelets or necklaces. Find ones adorned with details that you love, and pair them with even your most straight-laced attire to add a little punch of personality.
2. Explore alternative materials. So the dress code for your office is slacks and a collared shirt for men, and pantsuits for women. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy an entire new wardrobe of tan-colored tops and bottoms. Rather, understand that you need to fit within certain parameters when it comes to the look and style of your clothes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with the material or the pattern. Are you a Parrothead who loves the beach? A Hawaiian-themed collared shirt is just the ticket to expressing that sentiment. Or, are you an 80s queen who adores everything from that bygone era? Find a vintage pantsuit complete with shoulder pads and a paisley blouse to express your style without compromising your workplace standards.
3. Don’t forget the shoes. More so than anywhere else, shoes are the best place to highlight your personal style at work. If you’re working in certain, more hazardous environments, such as a warehouse, you’ll likely need special, steel-toed shoes that are designed to keep you safe. Yet, if you’re simply sitting behind the computer in a cubicle or corner office, you have the freedom to play around a little more with your footwear. Are you a cowboy at heart? An outfitter like Tim’s Boots will hook you up with boots that are as rugged and comfortable as they are stylish and workplace-appropriate. Love your furbabies and miss them when you’re away at work? You can even buy a pair of sensible and stylish flats adorned with kittens or puppies to keep you going until you can get home to them. Whatever you’re passionate about, there’s likely a footwear option out there that can express that sentiment, so don’t be afraid to shop around and wear those unique touches with pride!
It’s understandable to want to fit into a company’s culture, but you don’t have to sacrifice your personal style to do so. Moving forward, try to incorporate little touches of your personality throughout so you still feel like “you” when you’re pounding the keyboard, closing that deal, or working on-site. Chances are, you’ll arrive refreshed and ready to do your best, and that’s a powerful change you can make today!