Dress for Success
How does a man master his office dress code when he's not even sure that there actually is one? Most workplaces today have a more relaxed approach to work attire but that doesn't mean that the well-dressed man doesn't get ahead. After all, this is your career. Didn't you bust your ass to get where you are? Take some pride in being there and show up looking like you're ready do something important. Whether it's a last minute meeting, a surprise office drop-in or just a tense couple of minutes with the boss (or the boss's boss) in the elevator ... how you look is a guaranteed way to make an impression without saying a word. Here's how to take your work wardrobe up a few notches.
Every workplace has a dress code—whether it's officially enforced and sanctioned or simply suggested and socially imposed. If you're new (or simply haven't been paying attention) take a week or two to assess the landscape and check out what people are wearing, from the low end of the totem pole to the top brass. This will give you a starting point and an idea of what you could wear to step things up sartorially, as well as what might be considered too over the top.
Ease Into It
You don't want to go from jeans and sneakers to a sharp cut suit and wing tips overnight. You colleagues will call you out—because in every office there's always some dick who's going to loudly ask, "Hey, you got a job interview or something!?" Allow your upgrade to take place slowly and steadily so that when you show up looking sharp and put together, everyone will be adjusted to your new boss style.
You could go broke trying to dress for that job you want before you actually land the salary you need to afford it. So the key is to save a little extra cash and put it towards pieces that could last you for years to come. Items like a beautiful topcoat, a well-tailored suit that you can pair with everything from T-shirts and sweaters to more standard shirts and ties, or the best quality lace-up dress shoes you can afford.
A Polo Shirt = Secret Weapon
It feels great and looks at once sleek yet relaxed. Layered under a blazer, a bomber jacket or even a cardigan. Even on its own on a hot day. Keep the color solid and dark, avoid any conspicuous emblems and stick with cotton.
Four Easy (and Free) Upgrades
When it doubt or when there's no money in your budget to buy new clothes, you can make the most of what you have. Steam or iron your clothes. Shine your shoes. Keep your facial hair (and neck hair) neat and trimmed. And for Chrissake, tuck in your shirt. These won't cost you a thing but make you look like someone who's ready to go up a rung on the corporate ladder.