The good news is I recently got a new job, the bad news is it has a completely different dress code to my current job!
Where I was previously the dress code was “wear what you think is appropriate for your day at work”. I have always found this one difficult, working in Facilities it is impossible to plan your day, one minute you could be sat at your desk sending emails, the next minute your in the CEO’s office taking his new staff photo and 10 minutes later your lifting some deliveries! Both of which require completely different outfits.
Thus I always tried to dress for business casual, unless I knew what I’m doing. Always keeping an emergency blazer and pair of heels on hand to dress up my outfit as needed. I tried to avoid jeans, unless it was Friday. However, I knew I was doing something that evening I tended to dress for that.
Here are the 10 steps I followed in the weeks preceding the job that helped me get an idea of what to wear.
10 STEPS TO COPING WITH A NEW DRESS CODE
STEP 1 – RESEARCH DRESS CODE
The new job has a business professional dress code. So 150 google searches later and 1 Pintrest Board teaming with ideas – I had an vague idea of what I was dealing with.
The overriding opinion seemed to be suits, tailored fit and structured material. I also knew there is going to be an element of learn on the go – see what others wear and trying to emulate it in my own way.
STEP 2 – DECIDE ON WHAT YOU LIKE AND DON’T
This is where Pintrest came into its own, once I had got an idea what was needed and pinned until my heart was content. I went through the board to check I liked everything and it was inline with my research. Then I went through it again to identify patterns and build a concept of what I wanted to achieve.
STEP 3 – GO THROUGH YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE
My initial thoughts were I need to throw out my entire work wardrobe and start again, but I knew that wasn’t in keeping with the current sustainable fashion movement or my bank balance. So I decided a good old fashion clear out was needed.
I was quite methodical in this process, my wardrobe is divided into sections (dresses, work clothes, home clothes and folded items) anyway so I did it section at a time and took day breaks in between to minimise overwhelm and because it took a lot longer than I anticipated.
I started with dresses, I put them all on my bed, then I took each item in my hand and categorised them by occasion, next I inspected and tried on each dress in the respective pile and finally filed them in the wardrobe by colour.
I then repeated this process for all my other wardrobe sections. It turns out I already had a lot of useful garments that could be easily used to form a new work capsule wardrobe with little financial outlay. Also, made a mental note of anything that can be worn together!
I also learned a lot – I have an abundance of red work dresses, I have a lot of clothes that still have the tag on and stuffing the wardrobe full of clothes makes your ironing efforts superfluous!
There were also a lot of clothes that I don’t reach for because they are past their prime, so I have put these in a small sub-section of their own, which are to be used for my current job and then either donated or thrown out.
STEP 4 – IDENTIFY ANYTHING THAT’S MISSING
I noticed a few things that were missing as I went along. Most notably a Next suit jacket that I never bought, even though I have the trousers in two different cuts and the matching dress. As I bought all of them last year, I was in a bit of a panic, but then I went to trust eBay. After a few weeks of searching and widening the parameters a bit, I found exactly what I needed and south it for under £15.
Also, there was a distinct lack of skirts, in fact only two of my current skirts are in line so I’m going to keep my eye out for any others I can add in. Let me know in the comments if you see any that might work.
Finally in the absence of the aforementioned blue Next jacket – I was in need of a blue suit. This is where the M&S sale came into its own. I found a pair of Navy suit trousers for £15 and the matching double breasted suit jacket of dreams for £25. I am a huge fan of the double breasted blazer for quickly elevating an outfit and was lusting after one for my home wardrobe so I had to have it and bonus for the dual functionality.
STEP 5 – SHOES
Once you’ve decided on the main pieces of the wardrobe the next focus needs to be the feet. In my current work I can wear what I like on my trotters and I often don’t change out of the trainers or flip flops I wore for my commute.
However, this will not be appropriate for my new job. So attention needed to be turned to the shoe cupboard of doom! We are terrible at keeping the shoe cupboard in an orderly fashion.
The main take away points of my research were that shoes should be conservative, cover your toes and heels. So the process began again trying on deciding what was appropriate what was not, what I was keeping, what could be worn with what and what needed a good old fashioned polish.
This was a terribly painful exercise, as there is nothing I love more than a statement shoe and professional attire calls for neutral and conservative shoes!
After my initial heartbreak the gaps I identified here were in navy heels and smart flats.
STEP 6 – HANDBAGS & ACCESSORIES
A quick glance at handbag corner and I could see a distinct lack of black handbags large enough to encompass a laptop, so this is something I’m on the lookout for – recommendations welcomed.
I am a huge fan of scarfs, for their ability to quickly change an outfit whilst also adding utility and warmth. However, I do not believe this will be appropriate, so was praying the office is not nippy!
Another rule is that jewellery should be kept to a minimum so no more statement necklaces for me.
STEP 7 – REVIEW
So a few months in what have I found?
The dress code was not as strict as I first thought. For this role I am mainly on my feet all day, so the and the general principles of always having a blazer and smart pair of heels to hand still works.
Monday to Thursday’s are relatively easy to dress for – a suit, a tailor dress or a smart skirt and blazer. Friday’s are much harder, this is “dress-down”, which is impossible to nail, some people one in what resembles pyjamas some people look smarter than the rest of the week.
Have you ever experienced a change in work dress code? What strategies did you use to cope?