Dress for the Job You Want: Practical Tips to Get it Done

“Dress for the job you want” is an often-shared piece of wisdom. Despite the popularization of the saying, many people struggle to figure out how exactly they are supposed to dress in the workplace to make an impact. For women, workplace attire has shifted dramatically in the past 40 years. Women used to have to conform to strict requirements of a dress and heels, but lately, women have more wearable workplace options.

How you dress can make a big impact on how others perceive you in the workplace. For women looking to move up in the ranks, dressing professionally is of particular importance. Many people know they need to dress professionally for their job, however, many still don’t know what to wear for an interview or work.  

What does “dress for the job” mean?

Women leaning on a wall. She is dressed in a white fitted shirt

It’s easy to put together a comfortable, business casual outfit but that will not cut it when the time comes to ask for a promotion. The idea behind “dressing for the job you want” is to look professional. How you dress will often serve as the first impression for coworkers and bosses, especially if they don’t work closely with you on a daily basis. You always want to give those around you the best impression of your abilities as a valued employee.

When looking to interview or move up in a company, you need to show that you are professional, serious, and competent. Employers are more likely to hire a candidate that shows up to their interview in professional attire. Therefore, dressing like you already have the job can be an important first step to landing the position. 

How to dress for success

Dressing for the job you want sounds simple, but then when you open your closet you may suddenly find that you don’t know what to grab. Even though it seems scary and complicated, following these 5 simple steps will ensure that you’re ready to take on any job you aspire to.

1. Assess the environment

Be observant of what other people in the workplace are wearing. Current employees will set the tone for how you should be dressed. If you dress cohesively with others already working there, your first impression will show that you will seamlessly fit into the environment. Trying to mimic others will give you the guidance you need so you don’t feel stumped when the time comes to choose an outfit. If you don’t get to see the place beforehand, check out other areas in the same industry to get ideas.

2. Choose an intentional message

Women dressed for work in a tan blazer, white shirt, and black trousers

How you dress conveys a message. You want to be sure to always send the message that you are serious, competent, and professional. Always be sure to consider what your clothes say. For instance, a tailored jacket will look more professional and capable than a cardigan, which conveys are more relaxed vibe. Both may be equally acceptable in the environment, but one lends itself better to getting the job.

3. Buy well-fitted clothes

It will be hard to look the part if you don’t feel comfortable in your clothes or if they look ill-fitted. Instead of going for the most expensive blazer you can find, opt to instead buy an affordable option, and use the extra money to get it tailored. If your clothes fit you well you will come across as organized, punctual, and serious. Ill-fitting clothes will make you come across as disheveled and uncaring. Pick clothes that look good on you and, when in doubt, get them altered.

4. Invest in yourself

Women looking in the mirror washing her face

Clothes are only half the look. You want to come across as someone who takes great care of their appearance. This will help you look more professional and serious about a role. Don’t let your insecurities get you down, all you need to put your best foot forward is a little self-care. Perform a good skin care and hygiene routine. Be sure to get a good haircut. Not only will this allow you to come across better in your interview but will help you feel more confident in all areas of your life.

5. Be confident

Women standing at the head of a table at a work meeting

When trying to get a job or promotion, confidence is key. You could dress like you’re the CEO, but if you don’t act like it nobody will believe you. Have confidence in yourself and your accomplishments. Tell yourself over and over in the days leading up to your interview that you are worthy of and qualified for the position. If you’re still really nervous, try to learn some body language techniques to come across as more confident.

Remember, the key to getting the job you want is to dress professionally and believe in yourself. Good luck!

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