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Your Civilian Job ‘Uniform’
First impressions don’t stop at the interview. Define your identity at your new job with how you dress.
by Rita Gworek

The majority of the workshops I present are on subjects like “How to Dress for the Interview.” Establishing the right image is extremely important on interview day. Once you land the job, though, it’s essential that you keep first impressions in mind when you walk into work that first day. Your look the first days at a new job will establish the tone of your identity at the company, with your co-workers and your bosses. civilian-uniform219x292

Crack the code
It takes time to really get to know people, so it is imperative to dress the part of someone who is open, honest and competent. Many companies have a dress code in their employee handbook. Following the instructions of this book is a great start. However, some dress codes are ambiguous with undescriptive phrases like “dress professionally at all times” or “casual dress is allowed on Fridays.” Without further guidance, new employees could misinterpret what “professional” and “casual” means to the company.

Casual may not be cool
It is always better to err on the side of caution and risk appearing too formal rather than too casual. It is much easier for co-workers to accept that you are too eager; if you dress too casual, there is a risk of looking unprofessional and not serious about the workplace. It is also much easier to take off a suit jacket to appear more relaxed than to find ways to make blue jeans and a polo shirt look more formal.

Corporate culture
Take mental notes the first day or two of what they are wearing in the corporate culture. If everyone wears similar clothing, then dress to match. Even if an olive green suit is technically appropriate, if everyone in the office wears dark blue, then start wearing dark blue. If all the females wear skirted suits, then what impression does a new female employee make if she wears dress pants?

Your new uniform
Business attire is like a military uniform. Being aware of the company culture and its apparel allows new employees a way to instantly define themselves within the company. Do they match? Do they take pride in their appearance? Do they take pride in the company and the team? Look at those within the workplace, especially those in authority. See what the company expects and dress accordingly.

© Rita Gworek 2010
Rita Gworek is a presenter for the TAP and ACAP seminars on “Dressing for Success.” She has been an image consultant and personal shopper for more than 10 years in the Washington, D.C., area. 

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