How to dress better for work: 8 essential tips

Make sure you're first in line for promotion and always looking sharp in the office

How to dress better for work

A versatile work wardrobe can have a big impact on your professional success. Knowing how to style yourself for job interviews, important meetings and team events shows off both your work mind-set along with your skill in sartorial matters. As important as dressing for work is, it’s also easy to get wrong.

Planning out the right fit, the best colours and the accessories you want to integrate won’t happen automatically, but there is plenty you can do to rapidly transform your work style. Read below for our guide on how to dress better for work to give yourself the edge you’re looking for.

1. Get a game plan

Before you open 30 browser tabs as you scour the internet for new work attire, it’s a good idea to first consider what you want to achieve. A good game plan doesn’t need weeks of research, but rather some answers to a few simple questions. What do you want to set out to do? Is there an end goal? Have you got a big meeting coming up?

Perhaps you want to step up your power dressing game, or maybe you just want to convey a sense of authority with your style. If you’ve been promoted then you might want to look sharper to impress your new team. Whatever the case may be, selecting the right items for your professional wardrobe will have a payoff that will benefit you and your career.

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2. Dress for the industry

This might seem obvious at first, but selecting outfits that match the type of work you do should be one of your first considerations. While you may work in an office, it’s still wise to check if there’s a company dress code that you need to adhere to. This will help point you in the right direction.

In larger companies you might have to always wear a collared shirt. In other companies, shorts might be acceptable but perhaps not cut-offs. There might also be a lot of casual style if you work at a tech startup. Finding the style that you want within the industry and company culture will give you a solid foundation to work from.

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3. Find the right fit

There are two benefits to spending time getting the right sizes and fits for your body shape. Not only will you look sharper in the right cut, your outfits will also feel better to wear. While you could simply go with your size and call it a day, not every piece of attire fits the same as the rest.

For jeans you’ll need to decide whether slim is a better fit than skinny, straight or bootcut. This might seem like a small detail but it can have a big effect of your look. Similarly with sneakers, a knitted upper will stretch much more easily than leather and so you might want to size down when buying your next pair of creps.

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4. Consider colours

Coordinating colours well not only shows that you know what style is about, it can also send the right message about your work ethic. Knowing how to highlight neutrals with a seasonal colour, such as grey with purple in spring, will be eye-catching as well as a sign of good taste.

The first step to matching properly is to begin with neutral colours such as black, white, grey and navy. From there you can add differing shades of these to help match different pieces. When you eventually begin to add other colours, remember to keep them in check. A good rule is to wear only one colour with neutrals to avoid overdoing it.

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5. Shine your shoes

You can tell a lot about a person from how their shoes look. Someone who wears the same worn pair every day presents a different image to one who always has a fresh sheen to their feet. Keeping your shoes clean and polished doesn’t take much effort but offers a lot of bang for buck.

Grab some quality polish along with a horsehair brush and clean cloth. Apply the polish with circular hand movements to get an even spread and spend a little extra time to fill in scuffs. The heel and toe are usually where the most attention is needed. For investing only 10 minutes you’ll not only protect your shoe leather from the elements, but you’ll also feel brand new every time you step into the office.

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6. Don’t forget the bag

A lot of guys carry a bag to work – and a lot of guys also own unstylish bags. It’s not difficult to avoid the latter group. Choosing a bag is not that different from picking attire, so stick with the colours and overall style you like to dress in. It’s hard to get this one wrong, so it’s a good idea to use a bag for adding flair to your ‘fits.

A quality leather briefcase in black or brown is a reliable go to for the office. If you dress more casually, then a backpack is always a practical option. For that you’ll want to ensure there is space for a laptop for days when you travel or do home office. Whatever your choice ends up being, matching a bag to both your workplace and wardrobe will ensure you look sharp.  

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7. Accessorise with a watch

A watch can have one of the most dramatic effects on how you present yourself at work. Whether it costs less than £100 or you decide to go all in, a watch conveys a sense of refinement and can be the ideal accent when you want to lift your sartorial game. But matching a watch to your outfit takes a bit of planning to get right. 

There is a difference between formal and business watches, so it’s better to avoid watches that are heavy on elegance. Save these for formal events. A silver or gold case with leather straps will cover you in most situations. A metal strap is generally less formal than leather, so that’s also worth keeping in mind as you make the call.

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8. Stay groomed

If you wear facial hair it can be easy to let it overtake your face. While it might save 15 minutes every morning to let your beard grow free, keeping it neatly trimmed will complement a more professional look. Buying a good set of grooming products will make the process easier.

Shorter beards are easy to trim with an electric razor, while scissors are ideal for moustaches and longer beards. Growing out your facial hair on the weekend is also better than mid-week stubble if you want to stay looking sharp.

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Omar Hamwi