Last week I stood in a friend’s walk-in closet and stared at her clothing options. It was 10pm and the following day she would begin her first day of teaching high school students. On top of worrying about lesson plans, first impressions, dis-interested students and the apprehension of meeting other experienced staff members – she was also freaking out about what to wear.
The first impression we make – in any situation – is so important. Others form, even unintentionally, an immediate decision about who we are and what we value based on the way we dress and carry ourselves.
While each profession has its own dress requirements and standards there are some basic standards to keep in mind as you prepare for the first day at a new job.
- Figure out the industry standards for your profession and place of work. Is it casual, business-casual or business attire? How did the person who interviewed you dress? How did the other employees dress? Once you figure that out – step it up a notch. It’s better to over-dress a little more on your first day than to under-dress.
- Pre-plan your outfit. Don’t wake up the morning of your first day and try to figure out the needed attire. It’s a sure-fire way to be late or over-stressed before the day even begins. Lay out your outfit the night before. Try it on, stand in front of the mirror, and ask someone else’s advice.
- What are you comfortable wearing? You might be dressed in something amazingly perfect but if you don’t feel good in it – you won’t be able to give off the positive vibe. You need to feel absolutely comfortable in each piece.
- Stay away from new shoes. We all have experienced the stupidity of wearing new shoes to a big event without breaking them in first. To be hobbling around by the end of your first day is one sure way to make a stressful situation worse.
- Look after the details. Iron your shirt and pants/skirt. Polish your shoes. Make sure the hems are all in place, the buttons perfectly attached, the collar clean. Presenting yourself in a polished manner will send the right message to you and your co-workers.
- Accessorize. This is more for the ladies – but it is important to polish off your look with a few key accents. For your first day you don’t want to overdue the jewelry but you don’t want to be a half-finished outfit by ignoring them all together.