What to wear on the first day of work (woman and man)
Choosing the outfit for your first day at work can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. After all, a person's style of dressing speaks volumes about them.
Therefore, putting together a nice outfit is an important step, as it can influence the first impression others have of you.
If you're unsure about the company's dress code, don't worry; there's a safe choice that's neither too casual nor too formal.
For men, this means opting for business casual attire, such as slacks, chinos, or khakis paired with button-down shirts. Women can choose between blouses, blazers, dresses, or skirts, maintaining a balance of comfort and appearance.
Both men and women should select closed-toe shoes like loafers, Oxfords, or conservative heels, keeping the overall look professional and appropriate for the work environment.
This approach is your safest bet, but it's not the only option. In this article, I'll explain other acceptable styles you can consider for your first day on the job.
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Why is appearance important on the first day of work?
The way you dress on the first day of your new job is essential because your appearance is the first thing your new colleagues will notice.
A well-put outfit can help you make a positive impression and express your professionalism. “Dress for success” isn’t just a catchphrase if you want your first-day outfit to make a statement to your new colleagues.
The clothes you choose to wear on your first day of work can also help you feel more confident.
This research, for example, shows that men feel more self-assured when wearing business suits. A good confidence boost will definitely be necessary when taking over your new responsibilities.
What to wear on the first day of work as a woman
What you choose to wear for your first day at work will set the tone for the way you are perceived until you have the chance to introduce yourself fully. You would want to appear confident and professional.
Here are descriptions of some common work dress codes that should help you put together a presentable outfit:
Business professional for women
Classic female business attire usually includes a business suit or pantsuit where the color of the top matches the bottom, a button-down shirt, or a work dress combined with a jacket.
The colors are usually kept more conservative – charcoal or navy blue.
When it comes to shoes – avoid wearing high heels.
The perfect shoes for professional business attire would be close-toed dress flats or conservative heels (two inches or less).
A pair of classic shoes in black or brown is ideal. Other accessories should be kept minimal.
Business casual for women
Nowadays, the majority of workplaces give more freedom when it comes to clothing. Business casual attire is one of the most common dress codes for American firms.
For women, it usually includes blouses (both collared and non-collared), blazers, dresses or skirts, and slacks.
This type of attire also allows for wearing minimal jewelry and accessories. It’s recommended to avoid loud colors, with high saturation levels.
However, when choosing shoes, keep them classy – flats, boots, loafers, or elegant high heels.
Smart casual for women
The next popular type of dress code is smart casual. This dress code is less formal than business casual and involves elements of casual attire.
The “casual” elements that you can introduce when dressing smart casual include dark jeans or relaxed-fit pants, less formal dresses, untucked shirts, sweaters, and comfortable shoes.
The colors can be more vibrant. However, the accessories should still be kept simple.
When it comes to shoes, you can get away with wearing sneakers with some outfits as long as the rest of the components are not too casual as well.
What to wear on the first day of work as a man
Male business professional attire usually comprises a suit and tie, plain and unpatterned shirts, and dress shoes.
However, if the dress code at your office allows less conservative clothing, you can choose more relaxed business casual attire.
Here are the recommendations on what to wear on your first day at work if you are a man:
Business professional for men
Business professional for men is quite straightforward when it comes to the items you can choose from.
Usually, it includes a suit, dress shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. Polos and shirts aren’t acceptable.
When choosing your shirt try to avoid any colorful items. Light colors are always a good choice, however white or classic light blue would be your best bet.
If the color of your suit allows, you can wear a striped shirt, however, the stripes should be very subtle.
The shoes’ material should be (or have a feel of) classic leather. Stick to classic colors – black or brown, whichever looks best with your outfit. You should also wear socks that complement your outfit, not distract from it.
Business casual for men
In many offices in the USA, business casual is the go-to dress code because it is the perfect balance of comfort and appearance.
A distinct feature of this style is that casual elements are included in business casual attire for men along with classic business staples.
Good examples of bottoms for business casual attire include slacks, chinos, and khakis. You can easily combine them with button-down shirts, sweaters, and polo shirts. For colder months, you can put on a blazer or a cardigan.
The shoes should be closed-toes, such as loafers, Oxfords, or boots. Simple and professional accessories, like a wristwatch, can give a finished look to your outfit.
Smart casual for men
Smart casual is a more casual extension of business casual. This style of clothing is very ambiguous and includes many clothing items.
Your clothes can have more details, and be made from more textured fabrics.
The classic example of a smart casual look is a pair of chinos or dark jeans, a toned-down shirt with a blazer on top, and a pair of leather shoes.
What color should you wear on the first day of work?
Classic color combinations include black, white, and gray. Even if your workplace has a very casual dress code, it is recommended to avoid bright colors on your first day.
However, it doesn't mean that you can’t wear colorful clothes at all. Deep green, dark red, brown, and navy blue can work, too.
The color of your clothes can have a powerful effect on your image. By observing a person's clothing, we can easily make assumptions about their age, status, energy, and mood.
When you are dressing for orientation at your new job, it’s important to consider a color pallet that will help you navigate through the first interactions with your new colleagues.
Additionally, picking attire based on color may help you narrow down your options if you're having trouble choosing what to wear on your first day.
How to ask what to wear on the first day of work
Matching your first day at work outfit with the company dress code is important, especially if your new position requires direct communication with the clients from day one.
However, some companies do not specify the dress code in advance, leaving the new employees guessing what those requirements entail.
There are several ways to ask what the dress code for the company is:
- Ask your contact person – The recruiter or hiring manager that is responsible for your orientation is the person you should contact in case you have any job-related questions, including the dress code.
- Ask after the interview – Save yourself some trouble by asking about the dress code after the end of your interview. That way, you will also show interest in the company and its ethics.
- Get in touch with new colleagues – Current employees are always a good source of inside information. Networking is also a wonderful way to make some new connections before you start working for the company.
- Observe what others wear – If you had an in-person interview, then you probably have had a feel of what the dress code in the company is like. Additionally, if the firm has an active social media account where they upload their team accomplishments, you might observe what people wear to the office.
What to wear on the first day of remote work
Work-from-home outfits should be comfortable but still professional. Some clothing items you might consider wearing for your first day of remote work include sweaters or cardigans paired with a shirt, formal-looking jeans with a polo shirt, a soft-knit dress, or a jersey jumpsuit.
Remember that even if your new workplace doesn’t have any work-from-home dress code, you still have to introduce yourself to your team with your camera turned on.
Therefore, get out of your pajamas, sweatpants, or sports clothes and put on a nice casual outfit that you would wear if you worked in the office (but you can keep the slippers).
Some companies may enforce or suggest a list of mandatory clothing for remote employees. In this case, knowing what to wear on the first day of remote work is important, as it shows that take your remote position as seriously as if it was in person.
Having a professional appearance will not only impress your team but will also help you get into a working mindset. So business meetings and video calls, try to put on a standard business casual look.
My advice on what to wear on your first day of work
If thinking about what you should wear on your first day on the job gives you anxiety, then simply remember that you have already made the right kind of impression on your boss. You got the job, didn’t you?
So think about the interactions you’ve had so far, be it with HR representatives and hiring managers, and consider what they wore. Surely you will be able to pinpoint the right kind of outfit for your first day.
In any case, if you are totally clueless about what you should wear, then the safer option would be to overdress because even the most business professional outfit would look appropriate in any type of office setting, even if yours turns out to be more on the casual side.
However, if you undress, then you would probably feel self-conscious throughout the entire work day which is probably not the kind of start you'd want at your new job.
Frequently asked questions about dressing for your first day at a job
Can I wear casual clothes on the first day of work if there was no dress code mentioned?
It's recommended to lean towards a more formal attire unless explicitly told otherwise. It's better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed on your first day.
Is it appropriate to wear jeans on the first day of work?
While some workplaces may allow jeans, it's safer to avoid them on the first day unless you've been informed about a casual dress code. Opt for dress pants or a skirt instead.
Can I wear accessories like jewelry and watches on my first day?
Yes, you can wear accessories, but keep them tasteful and understated. Avoid wearing anything too distracting or noisy.
What should I do if I'm uncertain about the dress code for my first day of work?
Reach out to your HR representative or supervisor before your first day to clarify the dress code. It's always better to be sure than to guess.