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Submitted by timbarcz on




I have a two part question...


1. I am starting at a new company (in a managerial position) and want to make a good impression and would like to know how to figure out the recommended attire? Previous companies have been very casual (nice jeans, button up, and loafers puts me in the top 5% of employees). This new company is in a "traditional" industry but I'm working in their "startup" minded digital division.


2. Given my employment history in the past I don't feel educated enough on general options for men's dress attire (traditional, business casual, when to wear what and why). Any good resources or recommendations for learning the ropes when it comes to all things men's attire?

Thanks for the help - I appreciate it,



jrb3's picture
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Congratulations on the new position!

What I've done, with success, has been to dress like my eventual supervisor (or peer equivalent) dressed when I interviewed.  As I learn more about the department I'm in, and who outside the department I'm working with, I adjust my wardrobe to fit the situation.  Often that means I'm in a button-down shirt, slacks, a navy blue jacket, and a tie stashed in the jacket pocket in case I need to spend time with a more suit-oriented crowd.  One job, all my peers were in grungy T-shirts and shorts for no good reason I could tell.  I wasn't comfortable in anything less than clean polo and slacks.  It worked out okay -- we agreed to disagree on clothes and the working relationships blossomed greatly.

Look up the book "Dress for Success" for good basic advice.  I found it quite helpful, though don't borrow my copy as it's thirty years out of date. :-)  It should have updates or successors.

tlhausmann's picture
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Dressing to "fit in" doesn't have to be complicated.

When I worked (computer scientist) in a research lab for a large, multinational corporation...I wore slacks, sport coat, and tie. I usually hung up the sport coat after arriving. Within a week my supervisor swung by my cube and said "You know, you don't need to wear a tie here."  I think, in part, it appeared to me that the only folks wearing ties around there were higher up in the food chain.

Nevertheless, having quality slacks, sport coat, and/or tie enabled me to fit in just about any group by just adding or dropping the coat & tie as my group meetings changed through the day. Further, when it came time to brief company execs on the results of the project on short notice...I was always ready.

MT guidance, if I recall from their earliest podcasts, is to dress like your boss' boss.

mfculbert's picture

Call and ask your new boss or HR contact. Then step up your dress a little bit the first days while you make a good impression. It may be a bit of a pinch to make the call but that is a lot better then a whole day of being dressed improperly.

timbarcz's picture
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I got a book at the library and I'm glad I swallowed pride and asked, the response I got was (summary) "for your position we would like to see business professional" which was/is a step up from what I was thinking.



GlennR's picture

Years ago in my Toastmasters class a member got up and delivered a speech on "clothing catastrophes at work." This speaker worked in the tech industry, where according to her, there were some especially egregious mistakes.

It's not enough to know which style or level of clothes to successfully wear. For example, in business casual, if you don't know your shoes should be the same color as your belt, then you need to ramp up your knowledge. If you're wearing business casual, you should be wearing shoes that should be polished. (It takes about 7 minutes for me to polish mine.)

If you have to wear glasses, are they both functional and fashionable?  Years ago I spent an hour with a clothing consultant. She gave me some good advice and, if you are really serious about your appearance, then it might be money well spent.

There is also a school of thought that men should not let their wives pick out their work attire. I don't think this matters as much today with much of the work environment in business casual, but for those of you who wear suits or in professions with daily customer contact, you may want to seek other advice.

A quick check of Amazon appears to show me that the last edition of "Dress For Success" was 1988. Anyone have a more contemporary recommendation? I went through about five pages of book recommendations in this forum and didn't see any on appropriate dress for work.

jfarrell's picture

Congratulations on the new opportunity to excel!

The previous advice is all good: dress in something that scales up or down (depending on what you see at the time), dress like the people who interviewed you, or call and ask prior to arriving on Day 1.

Other managers I know in tech careers who have "risen from from ranks" (started as developers or engineers) wear long sleeve dress shirts and jeans.  They feel the jeans give them credibility with the engineers they supervise.  Knowing the culture of the company and industry helps, as does knowing the expectations of customers and people outside the industry.  If I were in a bank and saw one employee in a nice designer t-shirt and jeans, and another in a suit, I would choose to do business with the person in a suit - this meets my expectation of what a banker should look like.

Dressing comes down to respect: respect for the company you work for, respect for the people around you, and respect for yourself.

timbarcz's picture
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 I got a meeting this weekend with a local image consultant. (Thanks GlennR!)

MichaelP's picture

This is a very basic summary but it has worked well for me in the past.

You will need a few suits so they can breathe between use, pick them based on the shoulder fit and get them altered for the rest. Keep black suits for funerals, charcoal is more versatile. A basic suit collection should include at least navy, charcoal and grey... start with plain patterns and start going towards pinstripes and tweeds later on if you want.

You will also need a few pairs of classical shoes and low boots, so the leather can breathe and dry between uses. Always use a cedar shoe tree when not wearing them. You want at least one pair of black oxford shoes and a pair of brown derby shoes. Peruse youtube for the polish/bulling techniques.

You will need suit belts roughly matching your shoes, always match your leathers... no black shoes with brown belts, please. If you go with suspenders, prefer buttoned suspenders to the clip ones... they look better, create less trouble with trousers and also limit wardrobe failures.

If possible, keep the business shirts in the white or light blue tones until you feel confident enough with color matching to wear different colors with your suits. White shirts have the advantage of matching anything. Learn how to iron them properly, there is a very nice tutorial from TM Lewin on youtube.

Matching your tie patterns to your shirts is an art that I am still working on... simple patterns are better: club stripes, plain woven, plain knitted and silk grenadines are solid foundations for any wardrobe. Bow ties can also be included even tho I wouldn't recommend them in the beginning.

For more relaxed occasions, you may want to have some chinos and maybe a pair of cords.



On the fabric side, try to avoid synthetics... wool for the suits and cotton for the shirts. Linen suits are nice in the summer but they wrinkle like mad.