It’s career advice as old as time itself – “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. A popular variation of this phrase is “always dress for success”.
But what does this actually mean? And how important is it today in a society that is paring down dress codes, embracing casual Fridays, and encouraging comfort and employee happiness over suits and ties?
Yes, It Is Still Important
The way you present yourself to your boss and coworkers every day says a lot about you, and your ambitions. Even if you don’t realize it, the way you dress speaks to others.
It is still incredibly important to make sure that you are dressing to be taken seriously and that your coworkers see you as a real, valuable employee.
But that doesn’t mean you should always be wearing a suit and tie.
Read The Office Accordingly
If you work in a tech start-up or in a back-end role and your coworkers are coming in every day in t-shirts, cut off shorts, and sandals, you are going to look awful silly in your full suit and tie. Dressing for success doesn’t always have to be what some people ‘see’ as a success, but what your office sees as professional.
Whether that’s choosing polo’s and kaki’s as a step ‘up’ from everyone else’s attire, or wearing a button-down when you know that corporate is going to be around, being polished and slightly overdressed never hurt anyone.
This Also Means You, as a Person
Is your hair a mess? Is your shirt appropriate, but wrinkled?
Dressing for success also means taking pride in your appearance. Make sure you are neatly groomed and look presentable at all times. You don’t have to spend an hour in the mornings getting ready, but you should be making sure your clothes don’t look like they came out of the bottom of your hamper.
Clean, short nails, a proper haircut, well-fitting and stain-free clothes, and appropriate shoes will make your whole look come together without ever reading as ‘too much’ to others.
Ultimately Everyday is a Job Interview
The best way to think about it is to treat every single day at your job like it’s a job interview. Seriously, if you put yourself in that ‘mindset’ you will find that you are going to find yourself a lot more successful in your job in the long run.
Wear what you would wear to a second interview for your current position. By the second interview, you know what the vibe and culture of the company are a little bit more, but you still want to impress. “A step up” from the expectations, if you will.
In short? Yes, dress for the job you want is still very much alive and well, no matter how much you want to show up in jeans and a tank top. The way you present yourself matters, and putting in effort shows your company that you take your role seriously.