Wondering what to wear to work can be a pretty stressful situation, especially in the business world, where there are only a few kinds of acceptable attire. But the outfit you wear on the very first day of work might be one of the hardest decisions you'll ever have to make, particularly if you're not sure about the office vibe: If you're thinking about wearing a dress and heels, you might worry if you're overdressed
or if you're showing too much skin. Wearing jeans or corduroys is always a little sketchy (you never know if you're dressed too casually), and throwing on a skirt might even get you pulled aside and given an antiquated talk about what is and isn't appropriate for the workplace. That's why I've asked people about what you should wear to work on your first job, and here's what they had to say.
To many employers, your appearance translates to how you'll perform in that role. So, unless someone has already given you a heads-up on the appropriate attire for your workplace, you want to stick with an outfit that projects professionalism and shows that you're polished and ready to go. Later, once you've seen how your co-workers dress, you may be able to tweak your style as needed, but at least at first, you don't want to push the envelope too far.
Of course, it goes without saying that no one has the right to tell you how you should look or how you should present yourself. Your body, your rules. But, if you are concerned about what to wear, these helpful tips from seven real women will help offer you some peace of mind so you can do just fine on your first day.
Bright-Colored Blouse And Patterned Skirt
Even though Hannah could have gotten away with a casual outfit for her first day of work, she ultimately decided to dress up to make a lasting impression. She tells me for this interview for Elite Daily,
When I got my first job after college (writing at Seventeen.com), I had a decent number of skirts and dresses I could wear to the office, but it felt like I only owned crop tops. I didn't have any office-appropriate shirts, so I went to Zara and found a few sleeveless blouses I liked that were actually affordable on an entry-level salary. I probably could've gotten away with just a plain t-shirt, but dressing up just a little bit made me feel more professional and polished.
Major keys. Stores like Zara, Topshop, and TJ Maxx (or even your local thrift shop) are really great outlets to find appropriate attire for the workplace, so you're seen in the best light possible.
Knee-Length Skirt, Plain Blouse, And Chic Sandals
Some people believe it's always better to overdress than to under-dress, which is something that Theresa can attest to. Even better, she says it also helped set the foundation for what she wore to work in the future. She tells Elite Daily,
At my interview for my first post-grad job, I wore a formal pantsuit and heels, and quickly realized that our office had a very casual vibe. So on my first day, I went for a floral, knee-length skirt and a plain black shirt, paired with some small-heeled sandals. It was still my first day, and I wanted to give a good, professional first impression. Then, about two weeks in, I slowly molded my style to fit everyone else's.
A genius, ladies and gentlemen.
Dark-Colored Jeans, Floral Shirt, And Blazer
If you're on the fence about whether or not it's appropriate to wear jeans to your gig, it'd probably be in your best interest to stick with a dark-colored pair... at least on day one. You can also spruce up your outfit by wearing a colorful blouse, a cute necklace, and a blazer, as Jane did.
The key is to at least add bold pieces that are gonna highlight your outfit. If you do it correctly, no one will notice that you're even wearing jeans.
Blazer, Dress, And Tights
Whatever you wear, you certainly want to ensure that it covers enough of your body, which is something that Allison learned the hard way. She tells Elite Daily,
My first full time job out of college was as an assistant at a glossy magazine, and my first day just so happened to be during the dog days of summer. On my first day, I riffled through my closet trying to find something that was the perfect mix of fashionable, professional, and also weather-appropriate so I wouldn't dissolve into a puddle of sweat by the time I got to the office. I landed on a black and white striped dress with spaghetti straps and (what I realized too late was) a very short hemline. As I sat at my desk on the first day, I stood up to greet my boss and our managing editor, both of whom took one look at my skimpy dress and launched into a conversation among themselves about what qualifies as 'inappropriate workplace attire.' I did wind up wearing the dress again later on, but with a blazer and tights.
Pairing a blazer and tights with a short dress will forever be a
major life hack, BTW.
Blazer With A Basic Tee And Skinny Jeans
For her first day of work at
Seventeen Magazine, Kara opted for a pair of light-wash jeans, a simple gray T-shirt, a dark-colored blazer and chic booties — because tossing on a blazer, tucking in your shirt, and throwing on a cute pair of heels is always a great way to add a few colorful and feminine (if that's what you're going for) touches to any outfit.
Color-blocking is a great way to let your inner creative shine bright. It's always fun to pair dark colors with a bold, pointed-toe heel, as Hannah demonstrated with the favorite first-day outfit she shared with Elite Daily.
Don't be afraid to mix things up with fun patterns and bold colors — just make sure to keep your outfit warm enough.
Printed Blouse, Cropped Pants, And Flats
For her first day of work, Gabriella decided to stay true to the style she's had since she was a toddler, and she completely pulled it off. She described her outfit as,
Old Navy pants, Target shirt, new Kate Spade bag I bought myself as a congrats-on-getting-the-job gift (for 75 percent off!), Apple Watch (which was secondhand from my mom and also a congrats-on-getting-the-job gift), and tan suede hand-me-down shoes from my sister, which she got from who-knows-where (but probably Target?).
FYI: Hand-me-downs always get the job done.
When preparing for your first day on the job, don't worry. If you just trust your gut, I'm sure you'll do just fine. After all, you didn't make it this far for no reason, right?
These responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.