What to Wear on Your First Day of Work

November 10, 2023

When starting a new job, it’s important to look your best. You want to make a positive impression on your new boss and coworkers and start off on the right foot.

Even if your new company isn’t picky about work attire, dressing up can help you feel more confident and boost your overall performance at work.

So if you’re wondering what to wear on your first day of work, you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover what to consider before you step foot in your new office.

Research the dress code


Your first priority is to adhere to the company’s dress code if it has one. This will help you not stand out and feel uncomfortable.

Of course, you may only know what the dress code is after your first day. If that’s the case, ask someone who currently works at the company or the recruiter that hired you.

If you’re still unsure, remember that it’s better to be overdressed than overdressed. You don’t want to be the only one in a T-shirt and jeans when everyone else is in slacks and button-down shirts.

That said, common dress codes include casual, business casual, and business formal:

  • Casual attire can mean jeans, shorts, t-shirts, tennis shoes, etc.
    • Business casual attire can mean polo shirts, blouses, dress shoes, dark denim, and leather backpacks.
  • Formal business attire can mean suits, blazers, dress slacks, ties, and dress shoes.

Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong if you adhere to the dress code. So make that your number one goal.

5 Dressing tips

Once you have the dress code down, the next step is to actually find what to wear. There’s never only one option, so it’s best to stick to the following guidelines:

  1. Look clean and polished. No matter what you wear, it should look clean and well-maintained. As a start, that means wearing washed clothes and ironing or starching them (which is fast becoming a lost art).
  1. Don’t sacrifice comfort. Try not to sacrifice looks for comfort. Aim for both. In most cases, clothes you already own will do, but if needed, go shopping. But try to wear in your clothes ahead of time, so your first day at work isn’t their first use.
  1. Be conservative. While it may be tempting to flaunt your personal style, don’t go overboard with anything that’s too flamboyant or provocative. Stick to neutral colors and styles. Anything too bright, colorful, or revealing could backfire by making you stand out and feel uncomfortable.
  1. Don’t neglect hygiene. Your dress only makes up half of your appearance. The other half has to do with your personal hygiene. For example, it’s important to shower and style your hair for your first work day. This will help you look clean and sharp.
  1. Avoid new trends. Every few years, fashion trends come around and seep into the broader culture. Be cautious about adopting them for your first day at work. They may be hard to pull off. It’s better to take a more conservative approach when possible.

Cultural, seasonal, and remote work considerations


Season, location, and setting may also have an impact on what you wear to work.

For example, if you’re starting your new job in winter, you may need to wear warmer attire than if it were summer. Similarly, a job in Spain may demand different dress than a job in the U.S. The same goes for jobs at different settings (e.g., construction sites vs. restaurants). Take all this into account so you don’t wear don’t wear the wrong thing.

How you know when you’ve found the right work outfit

When you show up to work and see what everyone else is wearing, you’ll know if you’ve worn the right thing or not. But if you want to get it right from the get-go, it’s better to take a photo of your outfit and run it by a trusted friend at the company or someone with good judgment. It never hurts to get a second pair of eyes on your fashion choice. This can provide valuable feedback that may inspire you to adjust a thing or two. Maybe the tie is too much or the sneakers aren’t enough.

Yes, you should care about how you look on the first day of work


At the end of the day, your first day at a new job can be intimidating. Don’t make it any more nerve-racking than it needs to be. Dress to impress, and you’ll be glad you did.

This means researching the dress code, prioritizing a clean and polished look (while not sacrificing looks for comfort), erring on the conservative side, not neglecting personal hygiene, and avoiding new trends. If you can do all that, your first day at work will be a breeze. But it takes careful planning and forethought.

Not sure it’s worth the effort? Consider the alternative: You show up to work on the first day dressed inappropriately, which may make a bad first impression and leave you feeling uncomfortable and performing worse as a result. This is a recipe for disaster that you should avoid at all costs. Do yourself a favor and set yourself up for success instead.

Look good, feel good, play good

If there’s one rule you should follow on your first day of work, it’s this: look good, feel good, play good. Here’s what it means: If you look good, you’ll feel better. And if you feel better, you’ll perform better. That’s it.

Any deviation from this formula will probably lead to worse outcomes in your personal and professional life. So take it to heart. You won’t regret it. In ten, twenty, or thirty years, you may even credit your successful first day on the job with subsequent career milestones. You never know. So it’s best to be prepared.

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