How to dress for success while you’re working with a tight budget

Do you dress for success? Workers in general, and particularly women, are often stumped when choosing what to wear to work: as a new college graduate, building a wardrobe on a shoestring budget presents its own challenges, while others who want to dress for the job they want, while still fitting the corporate culture, can get confused at what to wear. Common questions that are asked: Should I wear makeup? How can I dress stylishly while conservatively? Do women have to wear skirts? What if I don’t like skirts? Will I be seen as too “frilly” if I wear patterns or jewelry? How can I afford enough clothes for the week?

It is common knowledge that to dress for success, you need to look the part to be the part. The harsh reality is that people can, and do, judge people, and especially women, by their appearance in the workplace, whether it’s fair or not. For both men and women, proper appearance projects a confident and bold image. If you look capable and confident, it makes sense that you’re seen that way by others. And it further makes sense that if you look how you want to feel, you’ll perform much better than those who don’t take the time to carefully craft a career image.

Simply put, dress for success according to your profession and position, from head to toe. For example, if you’re in a finance or business position, which is typically more conservative, ripped jeans and sandals do not demonstrate someone who understands the complex world of negotiation and money. If you work in construction, you wouldn’t wear a silk suit, but would be expected to dress in a hard hat and boots for the job.

How You Can Dress For Success

  • Pants: Invest in a few quality pieces, such as boot cut trousers in a trim (not tight) silhouette for women or straight-cut trousers for men, in basic colors like black, gray, and navy which can mix and match with shirts, blouses, and suit jackets. Medium-rise, boot cut pants are universally flattering for women and go with a variety of shoe styles. Likewise, straight pants that sit at the waist, without pleats, are universally flattering for men.
  • Jackets: Buy a few jackets that are structured to fit the lines of the body without being too tight or loose. Again, basics like black, gray, and navy will allow you to wear them more than once during the week with different shirts for men, and a variety of tops and jewelry for women. Buttons should not strain or gape, and should fit well over a blouse or shirt without looking tight or sloppy.
  • Ties: Men in traditional corporate environments should invest in three or four solid-color and striped ties which can mix and match with basic suit, pant, and shirt colors.
  • Business Casual Women: For women in business casual environments, cardigans can work as nicely as suit jackets and come in a variety of colors and patterns that allow you to express personality while remaining appropriate.
  • Business Casual Men: Men in business casual workplaces can wear non-pleated khaki pants with loafers and a polo or dress shirt.
  • Blouses & Shirts: Blouses and dress shirts in a variety of colors and patterns will work nicely with pants, both alone and untucked for business casual, or tucked in with a jacket.
  • Scarves: Scarves allow women to have fun with fashion while remaining appropriately dressed in a conservative environment.
  • Shoes & Socks: Purchase shoes in neutral colors, such as black, gray, navy, or brown, to wear with dress pants. Women’s shoes should be closed-toe except in summer for workplaces that allow open toes. For her, shoes with a slight heel elevate the leg without being uncomfortable or looking out of place, and flats or loafers work well too. For him, loafers or tie dress shoes work well, and he should ensure they are polished without scuffs. Men should never wear shoes without dress socks and women should wear trouser socks or knee-highs with closed-toe shoes. Sneakers and flip-flops are generally not appropriate work attire, even on dress-down days.
  • Jewelry & Accessories: Jewelry should be tasteful and kept to a minimum. A necklace, one ring on each hand, and a pair of small earrings works well. Or, wear one statement piece, such as a chunky necklace, and leave the rest of the jewelry at home.
  • Makeup & Nails: Makeup and nail polish is optional. If makeup is worn, keep it neutral. Nail colors can be bright if wearing conservative attire and nails are kept short. Your makeup should enhance your image, not draw attention away from you as a person.

Dress For Success on a Budget

What if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothing? You can still look good even if you’re a newbie entrepreneur on a shoestring budget. It’s not about how much you spend, but what you do with the fit, the matters. As Kevin O’Leary, Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank, says, “If you have a suit that only cost $150, go the extra mile and get it tailored. Shine your shoes. Make sure you manicure your nails. It’s the simple things that people notice, that take you far.”

What tips do you have to dress for success? Do you agree with these guidelines? Tell us in the comments! Also be sure to visit us for resume help in RI. We provide services nationwide.

Do you ever wonder what you should wear for a job interview? You want to dress to impress but you don’t know where to start? First impressions are everything! This section has tips and ideas so you can choose the perfect interview outfit.

What should I wear to my interview?

While it is important to present yourself in a neat and clean way, you can still dress in a way that can express you and your identities. Your outfit communicates how you want to be viewed in a professional setting. Here are some suggestions to consider when picking out an outfit. Remember, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed!

  • If it’s too tight, too loose, too short, or too long – don’t wear it!
  • Clothes should be clean and wrinkle free.
  • Limit distractions – loud prints and bright colors can distract the interview from what you are saying. Overwhelming smells like perfume/cologne or aftershave can also be distracting.
  • When in doubt, neutral colors are always a safe option (black, gray , brown, blue, beige, etc.).
  • Try your outfit on BEFORE the day of the interview.
  • Ask for advice – show of your outfit to family, friends, or even us at the CDC if you are unsure about your outfit.
  • Do an internet search – living in an age of technology has so many benefits including researching interview outfit inspo .
  • Don’t bring too much baggage with you – leave bulky coats or bags in the car.

Your clothes are your image, check the mirror and see what others see.

Dressing On a Tight Budget

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on an interview outfit. You might have items in your closet that are interview appropriate. If not, check out thrift stores or discounts at your local department stores. Many organizations only have 1-3 interviewing rounds, so y ou don’t need to have a million interview outfits. Find 2-4 outfits that you can continue to use. One outfit specific to first-round interviews, one for the follow-up interview, and a back-up interview outfit in case there is another interview. Here are some more tips:

  • Shop for your interview attire early.
  • Purchase clothing with multi-use potential.
  • Invest in impressive, classic, well-made separates that can be combined for a “professional” or “casual Friday” look.
  • It is not necessary to buy high-priced, designer fashions. Quality is key.
  • Begin by selecting your best “neutral” as a starting point for a professional wardrobe. Colors like black, dark gray, and navy are versatile.
  • Use shirts/blouses/sweaters to create a variety of visual effects and adjust the formality of your wardrobe.
  • Consider investing in year-round fabrics (something light weight that will be comfortable in both January and July) that hang and travel well.

We’ve all heard the saying before: The clothes make the man! But aside from being a touch outdated—surely the clothes would make a person of any gender—don’t be so quick to roll your eyes. As it turns out, that timeless adage “dress for success” might be more on the money than you might think. What we wear does directly influence not just how other people feel about us, but how we feel about ourselves. And yes, this is true even now, while many of us are working from home in isolation.

How to dress for success while you're working with a tight budget

This link between what we wear and how we feel even has a name: enclothed cognition. And it works both ways. When we wear clothes that make us feel good, we’re happier and more productive. But, when our outfit is uncomfortable or slovenly, we become insecure and prone to mistakes on the job.

Whether you’re at the office or taking Zoom calls in your living room, you can use enclothed cognition to your advantage. Here are 4 tips to help you take dressing for success to even greater heights!

1. Wear What Makes You Feel Invincible

You probably weren’t thinking about how to dress for success on the playground, but you may have been applying the psychology involved without even knowing. When you were little, did you have an outfit that you loved? Maybe it was a favorite “lucky” t-shirt you wore to tatters, or a dinosaur costume you’re sure had super-powers.

You may not be quite so enthusiastic about your current wardrobe, but why shouldn’t you be? If it’s true that your clothes can affect your mood, it makes sense that you should seek out the clothes that make you feel the best!

Think of your clothes like the battle armor in your favorite video game. The next time you have to give a presentation or do anything else that requires some extra strength on your part, just put on the outfit that makes you feel unstoppable… and you will be!

2. But Consider the Expectations of Others

Of course, dressing for success can have its limits. No matter how good they feel to wear, you may have a hard time impressing colleagues or clients if you show up to work in your grubbiest pair of sweatpants or a unicorn onesie.

But that doesn’t mean you need to cram yourself into a tuxedo everywhere you go, either. If excessively formal clothes make you uncomfortable, that’ll show in your body language when you wear them. The key is to strike a balance between what makes you feel good and what people who depend on you are expecting. Consider it like this: If you needed to see a doctor, would you prefer one who’s wearing a lab coat and pantsuit? Or a doctor who’s wearing cargo shorts and an innertube?

They may both be perfectly qualified, but chances are, you’re going to choose the doctor in the lab coat!

3. Dress for Success With What You Already Have

You also don’t need to run out and buy an entirely new wardrobe to dress for success! Granted, this may not apply if all your clothes comprise previously-mentioned sweatpants and unicorn onesies, but most of us already have perfectly serviceable clothes that make us feel great when we wear them.

But maybe you’ve found yourself stuck in an outfit rut, or with lackluster-looking clothes. If that sounds like you, don’t worry! Refreshing and remixing the clothes you already have can do just as much for your mood as buying new clothes can. Just the simple act of polishing your shoes or hemming your pants can completely transform the way they look. If you have any talent with a needle and thread, you could even upcycle your clothes into something entirely new!

4. Use Your Outfits to Help You “Show Up”

We’ve talked a lot about how clothes can influence how other people perceive you, but clothes have just as powerful an impact on how you feel about yourself. Clothes can increase your self-confidence, sure, but a powerful outfit can also increase your self-efficacy, or the belief you have in yourself that you can accomplish certain tasks.

In their study, Adam and Galinsky found that subjects who wore a white lab coat were more successful when performing certain tasks than those who didn’t. They did even better when they were told that it was specifically a doctor’s lab coat versus a painter’s coat. Why? Because they perceived that coat as being important. And, by extension, their tasks became more important, or at least felt that way.

When you put on your business best, you make yourself feel good, but you also make yourself feel capable. You give yourself the strength—and the permission—to succeed and excel at whatever you do. It can be a great way to help you prepare for upcoming presentations or other ways you need to “show up” for yourself or your coworkers.

It’s Okay If It Feels Shallow or Silly

All of this probably sounds a little superficial. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, right? Well, at the risk of sounding cruel, the reality is that we do. We humans are very visual creatures. We even judge our own looks.

That’s why, rather than try to fight tens of thousands of years of evolutionary biology, we suggest leaning into it a little, and even using it to your advantage. Dress for success, sure, but also dress for confidence. Dress for self-efficacy and empowerment. And above all, dress for self-love.

So, put on your favorite outfit, maybe strike a power pose or two, and you’ll be ready to face whatever the world has in store for you!

It’s also okay if you feel a bit ridiculous, especially now, and especially if you’re working from home. But it’s moments like now that dressing for success is arguably the most important it’s ever been. You can’t show up to the office, sure, but you can show up for yourself and your colleagues with a fresh face and a clean outfit that makes you feel professional and, most importantly, normal. We could probably all use a little normal right now.

Routines are more important than they’ve ever been. They help establish a sense of control and normalcy over our lives, which can be pretty chaotic and uncertain right now. But we at Fabulous know a thing or two about building rock-solid daily routines and we want to help you and your company do just that.

How to dress for success while you're working with a tight budget

What you wear is a representation of who you are. As a professional, this means you have to dress for success to show people you mean business—but you may not be ready to shell out for the expensive pieces you’d like to call your own.

If you want to dress well, but don’t have the budget for high-end clothing, use these tips to get what you need without breaking the bank. There are many ways to score great clothes without paying full price, and no one will ever know the difference.

Be Patient at Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are a gold mine for great clothes at a steep discount. This is especially true in wealthy areas, where you may be lucky enough to dig out designer duds between ripped jeans and a 1980’s tee.

The key to getting the most bang for your buck, however, is patience. Find the section where you need to look and spend time flipping through every item on the rack. Sometimes the best finds are squished in the middle, and if you just breeze through the store, you’ll miss them.

If you’re in the military, have a military I.D. card or are a student, you can score even more savings. Most thrift stores offer these discounts; all you have to do is ask and show proof.

How to dress for success while you're working with a tight budget

Take Good Care of Your Best Clothes

The best way to look great without spending a lot of money is to keep key items like expensive blazers, dress pants, and your other favorite pieces in great condition. If you can keep your clothes looking fresh, you don’t need to replace them—which can be costly.

To keep your favorites looking new, build dry cleaning into your budget. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, the guide, Why Dry Clean Compared to Machine Clean?, gives a few undeniable reason to make it a priority:

  • The washing process is more delicate, keeping clothes in pristine condition.
  • Solvents used help maintain the “new” appearance of your clothing.
  • Dry cleaning provides a deeper clean, removing stains, like oil and grease.
  • No more wrinkles; clothes are returned crisp and fresh.

If you can’t afford to pay for weekly dry cleaning, use it on a monthly basis to give your best items the deep clean they need. Bonus: Find a cleaner that offers a wash-and-fold service to take one more task off your ever-expanding to-do list.

How to dress for success while you're working with a tight budget

Invest In Well-Made Staples

A few high-quality items, like a blazer and a good pair of dress pants, may be all you need to get by. You can pair these with your favorite casual items to give a little personality with the professional.

To make sure your minimalist closet will allow you to dress for success, follow the 70/30 rule. Catherine Brock, of Budget Fashionista, explains:

“70 percent of your wardrobe should never go out of style. We’re talking classics like a dark pencil skirt, a black pair of pumps or a basic white button up that can be tucked into anything. The last 30 percent of your professional wardrobe can encompass some fun–try statement, but work appropriate jewelry, red pumps, or a trendy ruffled blouse.”

Invest in high-quality, timeless items when you have a little extra room in your budget, and you’ll always have something that’s professional and stylish.

Plan Your Shopping

Instead of shopping whenever you get an itch to hit the mall, wait for annual or semi-annual sales. Most retailers share these via email marketing, and even on their website, so you can plan ahead and shop when you know you’ll get the best deal.

There are also certain times of year that are better for shopping than others. AllWomensTalk suggests the following times to score a deep discount:

  • End of the season
  • Black Friday
  • January (“When retailers attempt to encourage customers to go shopping. Since traffic in stores usually drastically dies down after the holidays, retailers try to offer discounts to rev up their sales.”)
  • After major holidays, like Christmas
  • September (back to school)

How to dress for success while you're working with a tight budget

Rent Swanky Pieces

Renting clothes online is easier than ever, thanks to the wide variety of etailers now offering this service. If you’re on a budget, and only need professional or dressy clothing every once in a while, use an online rental service to get what you need at a fraction of the cost.

The good news is that’s not the only perk: “Not only will you spend less than you would buying the clothing for yourself, you will constantly have new outfits to wear. Starting at around $50/month, most these services will also allow you to purchase any clothes you absolutely adore, too,” says Tiffany Martin, self-employed freelance writer.

Dress Your Best, On a Budget

You don’t need to spend a lot to look and feel great. Use these tips to keep your closet stocked with high-quality, professional pieces and you’ll have enough money left to celebrate that next big promotion.

Although we have general guidelines for what to wear in an office setting, the fine line that once separated appropriate and inappropriate-office attire has become a gray area. For example, it would be no surprise to see the founder of a startup company conduct business in jeans and a T-shirt, yet that ensemble would likely be frowned upon at a larger corporation.

Honing in on your job’s dress code will not only help you appropriately dress for your office, but a powerful professional wardrobe can also lead you down the path to success. So, how does someone dress for success? Cue: Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is a leading online personal styling service comprised of stylists who hand-select clothing and accessories to fit your style profile and ship the items directly to your door, where you can then select the items you’d like to purchase, send back the ones you don’t, and provide feedback to your stylist to apply to the next shipment!

As the GM of Stitch Fix Women, Lisa Bougie is an expert on what an appropriate 9-5 look consists of. From shopping strategically to taking fashion risks, Lisa has 10 tips on how to dress for success that will revamp your wardrobe for the better. Check them out below:

Lisa Bougie, GM, Stitch Fix Women

1. Get Inspired

Seasonal change is the perfect time to hit the pause button and get inspired! Make the time to flip through magazines, head downtown, surf the web… get inspired by the natural style reset that presents itself with the change of seasons.

2. Pick Your Path

Get clear on the season’s style cue’s that emotionally resonate with you. Not all trends are for all people – and that’s a good thing!

3. Claim Your Color Crushes

Color is one of the easiest ways to update one’s wardrobe and yet it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. Two rules of thumb: 1. Know your neutral. Rooting your wardrobe in the neutral that best suits you will help to optimize versatility. Black not for you? Maybe you are more of a grey, brown or navy person. Whatever it is – claim it. 2. Same goes for seasonal color. Commit to a tight palette of newness. Just one or two new colors go a long way.

4. Make Room For the New

Before setting out to shop, take stock of what you have. Donate, sell or give away what you’ve not worn in the last year. A pared down closet will simplify getting dressed each morning and who wouldn’t want that?!

5. Shop Strategically

After taking inventory of your existing wardrobe, identify the gaps and shop with clear intent. This approach will keep you from over shopping and also ensure that you can style a lot of different looks out of a curated collection of pieces.

6. Double Down

There are some things that are worth investing in, if you are able. Shoes, handbags and outerwear are top of the list. Why? Because they complete the look. Pair an awesome pair of shoes with less expensive apparel and the look is instantly elevated. Same goes for handbag or outerwear.

7. Embrace Your Go-To’s

It’s tempting to feel like you need to dress a certain way when you’re under pressure for a big meeting. Comfort breeds confidence. Don’t ditch your go-to (fill in the blank) if you’ve got a big presentation coming up. Wearing what you feel comfortable in will positively impact your ability to show up as your best self.

8. Ignore the Rules

As the workplace evolves and dress codes relax, it’s more fun than ever to push your workplace style. Pair denim with denim, wear black with navy, choose white after Labor Day (gasp!) or opt for a sequined top during the day. Above all, fashion is a creative outlet to express yourself. Have fun with it!

9. Travel with Purpose

When traveling for work or pleasure, focus on a narrow color palette and build outfits around that. You’ll be able to do more with less and might even save you from checking a bag!

10. The Toolkit is Key

Invest in a hand-steamer over an iron. It’s compact, quick and so much easier than the alternative! Keep it in your bathroom for last minute touch ups. Other tools to keep handy at your desk or in your bag include a lint brush (or masking tape in a pinch) and polishing cloths for shoes and jewelry.

Don’t feel left out, men. Just this month, Stitch Fix expanded their services with the launch of Stitch Fix Men! Head to the Stitch Fix website for more information.

Working in an office that doesn’t have a dress code is a lot like taking the training wheels off of your bike. Your new responsibility means the stakes are even higher. Will you make all the right moves, sailing past your peers and earning the respect of everyone around you? Or will you crash in such an embarrassingly public way that it’ll take years of counseling to undo the trauma? It’s a stressful scenario, and the choices you make could have a big impact on your success in the workplace. So before you play fast and loose with your office attire, follow these 4 rules to make sure you come across as a professional, even when you’re dressing casual.

1. Dress like your superiors, not your peers. Even if your company doesn’t have a list of rules dictating how you should dress, there are other ways to gauge what’s acceptable. One of the best ways is to take note of what your coworkers are wearing. For example, even if there are no rules banning Crocs, if you haven’t seen a single pair in the office, they’re definitely off-limits.

To really make a positive impression, model your workplace wardrobe after your higher-ups instead of your peers. It might mean wearing khakis when your whole team is working in jeans, but it’ll also mean showing your superiors that you take your work seriously and that your professional attitude would make you a good candidate for promotion.

2. Stay clean and crisp, even when casual. Remember that casual and sloppy are not the same thing. You should take the same care with your appearance as you would if you were following a strict dress code. That means your clothes should always be clean and in good condition. Your hair should be cut and styled, your nails should be trimmed and neat and yes, you should iron your clothes every day. Ironing a pair of jeans might seem like somewhat of a foreign concept, but it’s far better than meeting with your boss while looking like you just rolled out of bed. If your peers aren’t taking some of these steps themselves, all the better. You’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.

3. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Do you hope to advance in your company? Think about the specific promotion you want and then ask yourself which qualities a person would need to succeed in that position. Write down at least three of the traits that come to mind. Then place your list on your mirror at home. Before you leave the house in the morning, check your outfit and ask yourself if what you’re wearing helps you project those qualities – or if you’re shooting yourself in your flip-flops. That tie-dyed t-shirt might not get you thrown out of the office, but it won’t help you come across as “innovative” either.

4. Wear something that will get people talking. If you buy the same bland department store clothes as everyone else in the office, don’t expect to get noticed. To separate yourself from the crowd, choose unique pieces that are eye-catching without being inappropriate. Accessories are a great way to do this. For example, women can bring originality to an outfit with the help of a statement necklace, while men can don a unique watch.

When a meeting with investors calls for more formal attire, don’t leave your individuality at the door. Work with online tailors like Trio Tailoring to build your own suit. Whatever you wear, make it your own. Unique items can serve as great icebreakers, and they’ll make you memorable for all the right reasons.

Choosing the right wardrobe for work in the absence of a dress code might seem tricky, but sometimes the things which cause us the most stress lead to the best opportunities. A casual office gives you the chance to sculpt your own image and to promote yourself in a fun and creative way. Let your co-workers do the slacking. As for you, future leader, take this opportunity to shine. It’s a chance to make an impression that could change your career. Make the most of it.

Alayna Frankenberry is a freelance writer who works from home, which means she gets to violate half of these rules without anyone being the wiser.

Whether you are an intern, co-op student, or you are just starting out in a new job, you are expected to adhere to a company’s dress code. Remember, you are now representing the company’s image. If it hasn’t been made clear to you as to what the company’s dress code is, talk to your boss or a human resources representative.

If there isn’t a formal dress code in place, observe what other employees in the company wear to work each day. If everyone is wearing jeans, you most likely can as well. If you show up to work in jeans and everyone else is wearing dress pants, you will want to leave your jeans at home from now on.

There are generally four different types of business attire:

Business Formal ­

Think of business formal as dressing to impress. This is typically an upgrade to what you would wear as a professional day-to-day. Some events that may require business formal attire include evening events and award ceremonies.

Men’s example: Dark colored suit over a dress shirt, paired with a tie. Dress shoes that match the color of suit complete the outfit. Cufflinks can be worn with a French cut style dress shirt, and a silk pocket square adds some character.

Women’s example: A dark colored dress suit, paired with pantyhose and closed toe pumps is appropriate.

Business Professional

Dressing business professional generally consists of wearing conservative clothing to portray yourself in a professional manner. Business professional is similar to business formal; it is just taken down a notch. You don’t need to get your best clothing out, but you still need to show up in a professional manner. Some examples of jobs that require business professional attire include finance and accounting jobs.

Men’s example: Suit pants (or dress pants) paired with a button down shirt, suit jacket or blazer, a tie and dress shoes.

Women’s example: A pants or dress suit paired with heels.

Business Casual

A common dress code in many companies is business casual. Business casual doesn’t mean that you are required to wear a suit and tie to work, but it also doesn’t mean you can wear casual attire such as jeans and t-shirts. Business casual is clean, crisp and neat.

Men’s example: Dress pants or khakis, neatly pressed, along with a long-sleeved buttoned solid shirt. Pair this outfit with leather shoes; sneakers are not acceptable.

Women’s example: Dress pants or khakis, neatly pressed with a dress top or sweater. Leather shoes or boots help complete the outfit.

Small Business Casual

Casual in the business sense does not mean it is appropriate to wear sloppy pieces of clothing with inappropriate sayings on them. Avoid wearing stained or wrinkled clothing as well as revealing attire – you are still in a work environment.

Men’s Example: Darker washed, well-tailored jeans, with a polo t-shirt, paired with casual, yet professional shoes. Again, sneakers are not appropriate.

Women’s Example: Darker washed, well-tailored jeans, with a casual blouse, paired with a pair of flats.

Cost and Quality

As an intern or co-op student, you can still adhere to a company’s dress code while not breaking the bank. Investing in a few versatile quality pieces will help you transition into the working environment. Thrift and consignment stores are a great place to look for business clothing, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Four staple items for a man’s wardrobe:

  • Dark dress pants (black goes with everything)
  • Button up collared shirt (solid is versatile)
  • A neutral colored sweater or suit jacket
  • Pair of brown or black dress shoes (opt for a classic style shoe)

Four staple items for a women’s wardrobe:

  • Dark dress pants (black goes with everything)
  • Button up collared shirt (solid is versatile)
  • A neutral colored cardigan or blazer
  • Pair of black pumps or black flats (if you would wear them to a club, they aren’t work appropriate)

Keep It Modest

Avoid showing too much skin; stay away from skirts that are too short, necks that are too low, or anything that is see-through or overly tight. Clothing with tears and rips as well as exercise wear like yoga pants may be comfortable, but they are not appropriate work wear.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

With 16,978 current food and beverage manufacturing jobs posted from hundreds of the industry’s top companies and recruiters, we have grown to become, by far, the largest food and beverage industry-specific job board on the internet.

Food processing careers encompass a variety of job opportunities beyond plant management, quality control, food science and sales. So, whether you have a degree in accounting, human resources or are looking to spread your wings in a career in maintenance, marketing or environmental health and safety, the food manufacturing industry could be the next step in your career.

Whether you are an intern, co-op student, or you are just starting out in a new job, you are expected to adhere to a company’s dress code. Remember, you are now representing the company’s image. If it hasn’t been made clear to you as to what the company’s dress code is, talk to your boss or a human resources representative.

If there isn’t a formal dress code in place, observe what other employees in the company wear to work each day. If everyone is wearing jeans, you most likely can as well. If you show up to work in jeans and everyone else is wearing dress pants, you will want to leave your jeans at home from now on.

There are generally four different types of business attire:

Business Formal ­

Think of business formal as dressing to impress. This is typically an upgrade to what you would wear as a professional day-to-day. Some events that may require business formal attire include evening events and award ceremonies.

Men’s example: Dark colored suit over a dress shirt, paired with a tie. Dress shoes that match the color of suit complete the outfit. Cufflinks can be worn with a French cut style dress shirt, and a silk pocket square adds some character.

Women’s example: A dark colored dress suit, paired with pantyhose and closed toe pumps is appropriate.

Business Professional

Dressing business professional generally consists of wearing conservative clothing to portray yourself in a professional manner. Business professional is similar to business formal; it is just taken down a notch. You don’t need to get your best clothing out, but you still need to show up in a professional manner. Some examples of jobs that require business professional attire include finance and accounting jobs.

Men’s example: Suit pants (or dress pants) paired with a button down shirt, suit jacket or blazer, a tie and dress shoes.

Women’s example: A pants or dress suit paired with heels.

Business Casual

A common dress code in many companies is business casual. Business casual doesn’t mean that you are required to wear a suit and tie to work, but it also doesn’t mean you can wear casual attire such as jeans and t-shirts. Business casual is clean, crisp and neat.

Men’s example: Dress pants or khakis, neatly pressed, along with a long-sleeved buttoned solid shirt. Pair this outfit with leather shoes; sneakers are not acceptable.

Women’s example: Dress pants or khakis, neatly pressed with a dress top or sweater. Leather shoes or boots help complete the outfit.

Small Business Casual

Casual in the business sense does not mean it is appropriate to wear sloppy pieces of clothing with inappropriate sayings on them. Avoid wearing stained or wrinkled clothing as well as revealing attire – you are still in a work environment.

Men’s Example: Darker washed, well-tailored jeans, with a polo t-shirt, paired with casual, yet professional shoes. Again, sneakers are not appropriate.

Women’s Example: Darker washed, well-tailored jeans, with a casual blouse, paired with a pair of flats.

Cost and Quality

As an intern or co-op student, you can still adhere to a company’s dress code while not breaking the bank. Investing in a few versatile quality pieces will help you transition into the working environment. Thrift and consignment stores are a great place to look for business clothing, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Four staple items for a man’s wardrobe:

  • Dark dress pants (black goes with everything)
  • Button up collared shirt (solid is versatile)
  • A neutral colored sweater or suit jacket
  • Pair of brown or black dress shoes (opt for a classic style shoe)

Four staple items for a women’s wardrobe:

  • Dark dress pants (black goes with everything)
  • Button up collared shirt (solid is versatile)
  • A neutral colored cardigan or blazer
  • Pair of black pumps or black flats (if you would wear them to a club, they aren’t work appropriate)

Keep It Modest

Avoid showing too much skin; stay away from skirts that are too short, necks that are too low, or anything that is see-through or overly tight. Clothing with tears and rips as well as exercise wear like yoga pants may be comfortable, but they are not appropriate work wear.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

With 16,978 current food and beverage manufacturing jobs posted from hundreds of the industry’s top companies and recruiters, we have grown to become, by far, the largest food and beverage industry-specific job board on the internet.

Food processing careers encompass a variety of job opportunities beyond plant management, quality control, food science and sales. So, whether you have a degree in accounting, human resources or are looking to spread your wings in a career in maintenance, marketing or environmental health and safety, the food manufacturing industry could be the next step in your career.

Working in an office that doesn’t have a dress code is a lot like taking the training wheels off of your bike. Your new responsibility means the stakes are even higher. Will you make all the right moves, sailing past your peers and earning the respect of everyone around you? Or will you crash in such an embarrassingly public way that it’ll take years of counseling to undo the trauma? It’s a stressful scenario, and the choices you make could have a big impact on your success in the workplace. So before you play fast and loose with your office attire, follow these 4 rules to make sure you come across as a professional, even when you’re dressing casual.

1. Dress like your superiors, not your peers. Even if your company doesn’t have a list of rules dictating how you should dress, there are other ways to gauge what’s acceptable. One of the best ways is to take note of what your coworkers are wearing. For example, even if there are no rules banning Crocs, if you haven’t seen a single pair in the office, they’re definitely off-limits.

To really make a positive impression, model your workplace wardrobe after your higher-ups instead of your peers. It might mean wearing khakis when your whole team is working in jeans, but it’ll also mean showing your superiors that you take your work seriously and that your professional attitude would make you a good candidate for promotion.

2. Stay clean and crisp, even when casual. Remember that casual and sloppy are not the same thing. You should take the same care with your appearance as you would if you were following a strict dress code. That means your clothes should always be clean and in good condition. Your hair should be cut and styled, your nails should be trimmed and neat and yes, you should iron your clothes every day. Ironing a pair of jeans might seem like somewhat of a foreign concept, but it’s far better than meeting with your boss while looking like you just rolled out of bed. If your peers aren’t taking some of these steps themselves, all the better. You’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.

3. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Do you hope to advance in your company? Think about the specific promotion you want and then ask yourself which qualities a person would need to succeed in that position. Write down at least three of the traits that come to mind. Then place your list on your mirror at home. Before you leave the house in the morning, check your outfit and ask yourself if what you’re wearing helps you project those qualities – or if you’re shooting yourself in your flip-flops. That tie-dyed t-shirt might not get you thrown out of the office, but it won’t help you come across as “innovative” either.

4. Wear something that will get people talking. If you buy the same bland department store clothes as everyone else in the office, don’t expect to get noticed. To separate yourself from the crowd, choose unique pieces that are eye-catching without being inappropriate. Accessories are a great way to do this. For example, women can bring originality to an outfit with the help of a statement necklace, while men can don a unique watch.

When a meeting with investors calls for more formal attire, don’t leave your individuality at the door. Work with online tailors like Trio Tailoring to build your own suit. Whatever you wear, make it your own. Unique items can serve as great icebreakers, and they’ll make you memorable for all the right reasons.

Choosing the right wardrobe for work in the absence of a dress code might seem tricky, but sometimes the things which cause us the most stress lead to the best opportunities. A casual office gives you the chance to sculpt your own image and to promote yourself in a fun and creative way. Let your co-workers do the slacking. As for you, future leader, take this opportunity to shine. It’s a chance to make an impression that could change your career. Make the most of it.

Alayna Frankenberry is a freelance writer who works from home, which means she gets to violate half of these rules without anyone being the wiser.