Person wearing a black JanSport backpack in front of glass buildings

How to Dress for Success on Your First Day of Work

Megan Monte May 14, 2024

Congratulations on your new job! As exciting as this time is, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming— maybe nerve-wracking, too. You want to do well and make a good impression from the get-go; that starts with preparation. While you can’t prepare for everything, you can make sure you’re dressed for success so you feel your best on day one. But where to begin?

Choosing the right look can feel like a guessing game, especially if no one tells you what you should be wearing. Your outfit should make you feel good, but you also want to make sure the clothes are appropriate for the role. 

These three tips can guide you to selecting that perfect work outfit, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about day-of. 


Learn the Culture Before You Start

Company cultures aren’t one-size-fits-all. Different offices will have different atmospheres and dressing norms, so the best way to determine the vibe at your new job is to do a little research beforehand. 

Start by checking if your new employer has any formal dress code. Onboarding documents, handbooks, and company websites will usually contain this information if it’s available. Pay special attention when you’re working in an industry that typically involves uniforms, such as healthcare, transportation, hospitality, and emergency services. If you’re expecting a uniform but aren’t given one or can’t find information about it, you can always ask your employer.

When there’s no uniform or formal dress code, think about the typical industry norms. For example, creative services, startups, and non-profits tend to be more casual than financial institutions or law offices. Of course, these trends aren’t always a guarantee, so it also helps to scroll through a company’s social media or website to see how your new colleagues dress. You can even reference what your employers wore during your interviews.    

At the end of the day, remember that it’s usually better to be overdressed than underdressed. Once you start working, you’ll naturally learn more about the culture, feel more comfortable, and be able to adjust.


Choose Something You Love That’s Professional and Comfortable

If the choice is left up to you, go for professional-looking outfits that align with the company culture. Even if your employer has a more informal vibe, extra-casual options like cropped tops, torn or ripped fabric, athletic wear, and strapless items are usually a no-go. 

That being said, dressing professionally shouldn’t mean wearing clothes you don’t like. The dress code might narrow your options, but within those options, honor your style to find outfits you love. For example, if you have to wear a suit but don’t like basic slacks, try out skirts, wide-leg looks, or details like pleats. And don’t be afraid to  accessorize. Add jewelry, hair pieces or bows, or your favorite fashionable bag like the Restore Tote

You’re going to spend hours in this outfit, so make sure it’s comfortable, too. Dress in layers in case your workplace ends up being too warm or cold. Go for fabrics and fits that feel good to wear. If you’re worried about nervous sweating and getting stains (it happens to the best of us), looser-fitting sleeves and forgiving colors like black can help. 


Pick Your Outfit, Try It On, and Lay It Out the Night Before

Save yourself unnecessary stress the morning of by organizing your clothes—accessories included—and trying the look on the night before. This gives you plenty of time to choose something you love, get help if you need it, and make sure everything is clean and good to go.

When trying on your outfit, it helps to go through the motions you’ll do at work to ensure your clothes will be comfortable. For example, if you’ll be doing any manual labor, check that the fit allows movement. If you’ll be sitting at a desk, make sure your outfit feels comfortable when seated. Check that the bag you bring will fit what you need, too. Or better yet—pack it ahead of time. The Inbound Pack and Right Pack Premium are two functional and professional options for work. 

Once you’ve picked your outfit, leave it out so you don’t have to search for anything in the morning. Iron or steam wrinkled items, and lay them flat or hang them up so they don’t get crumpled overnight. 

Dressing for success can feel tricky when you haven’t even started the job yet, but these three steps can have you feeling great and leaving that good impression you’re hoping for.