Workplace wardrobe DOs and DON’Ts

“Any item in your wardrobe should satisfy one of two criteria: utility and joy.” -Stacy London

Having an appropriate office wardrobe may not be very exciting, but it certainly will send the right message to your colleagues and boss about whether or not you take your job seriously. Though individual results will vary, these workplace wardrobe guidelines are a good base for knowing what is and isn’t appropriate at work. Refer to your employee guidelines or talk to your supervisor if you have any doubts. Learn what to wear in the workplace by following these simple rules:


DO wear closed toe shoes

In most office environments, sandals are not appropriate workplace attire. Dress shoes or flats are the ideal candidate. Keep those toes in check until you get home.


DO NOT draw attention to yourself

Any kind of distracting clothing could send the wrong message to your colleagues. Avoid glitter, an excess of makeup, an obnoxious tie… These things can wait for the New Years Eve Party.


what to wear in the workplace


DO dress for the job you want

Even if your office seems more casual, putting in the effort to dress a little more formally will send the message that you’re taking your job and the workplace seriously.


DO NOT do “casual Fridays”

If the office dresses down on a specific day, like Friday, still use your best judgment. If you have an important client meeting, for example, it’s important to dress up for that occasion.


DO make sure that your clothes are clean and without wrinkles

What you wear is important – but so is how you wear it. A nice collared shirt is still going to look sloppy if you’re wearing it with a stain or if it’s wrinkled.


DO NOT go overboard on holidays

If you’re going to insert holiday cheer into your wardrobe, make it subtle and classy. It’s important not to be too flashy or distracting in order to remain professional. Example: During the winter holidays, wear a red sweater instead of the flashing Christmas light earrings.


what to wear in the workplace


When in doubt, DO consult the employee handbook

If you’re not sure if something is within dress code, consult the employee handbook. That’s what it’s there for. In fact, give it a read before you start your internship so that you can begin your job dressed to impress.


DO NOT wear sports wear

Jerseys, baseball caps and tennis shoes are for the weekends – not the workplace. Avoid looking sloppy, stay professional and leave that stuff at home.


DO pay attention to what your bosses are wearing

The office managers set the tone for what’s appropriate and what’s not. Look at what they’re wearing as a guide.


DO NOT show too much skin

Especially in hot summer months, it can be tempting to sport short skirts, shorts or tank tops. However, showing too much skin at the workplace is often perceived as unprofessional and can be distracting attire for the office.


DO rock business casual

So khakis and a button down might not express your own personal flair. That’s OK. Admittedly business casual is a bit boring, but that’s because it’s supposed to be neutral and versatile. Learn to own it as it’s appropriate in most professional settings.


DO NOT wear crocs

This one actually applies to both professional and non-professional environments. Just don’t do it.


Now that you know what to wear in the workplace, apply now to boost your career!



Photo 1. based on, wardrobe, by Rainer Hallmann, CC-by-ND 2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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