Most of the time, corporate offices have a dress code that you need to adhere to. It is often one of the non-negotiables involved with your usual 9-5. Unfortunately, since office work can quickly devolve into a humdrum routine, your work clothes can often feel like a uniform. As a result, you might find yourself feeling less confident and motivated than usual without even realizing it.
While you might not be able to change the nature of your work, you can do something about the way you approach it. Sometimes, it can be about tweaking your mindset. Other times, it can be about how you present yourself when you come into work. Are you well-groomed, and do you even like what you’re wearing? Being happy with how you look can largely affect how you go about your job.
Now, many workplaces have evolved past the whole shirt-and-tie look. While it is undoubtedly a classic no-fail outfit, it’s also an extremely basic ensemble that can make you look like a drab, corporate drone if worn too often. How do you express yourself or look sharp while keeping a professional look for the office? Here are a few tips:
- Go for dressy socks. It’s an extremely small fix that makes a big impact on how your work outfit can look. Save your ankle-length socks for casual Fridays and swap them out for over-the-calf dress socks for men instead. You’ll look sharper and less dowdy, especially when you pair them with well-tailored pants. Look for dressy socks made of material that will stay up throughout the day without sagging or twisting. If you’re up for it, get creative with the designs you choose too!
- Make things a bit more laid back with your usual clothes. If you’re still in the process of building your wardrobe, you can still be creative with what you currently have. Roll up your long-sleeved shirts so you look (and feel) less stifled. Skip wearing your ties on some days if you’ve always worn a tie. These small changes can make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Remember to stay within the dress code, of course. No one can fault you for trying something different if you’re not breaking any rules.
- Wear a jacket. Yes, really. Adding in this extra piece can help you stand out more at work without looking too flashy. The usual suit jacket might be counterproductive, so try to go for a more casual sports jacket or even a leather jacket. A jacket with a good fit, regardless of the material and color, will be extremely flattering while giving you a more distinguished look at work.
- Colorful shirts make a difference. While your white and cream work shirts are an easy and convenient piece of clothing to fall back on, they can also be too formal and forgettable. If you’re wary about what colors to pick, start small and keep things simple. Try other colors on the grayscale, like charcoal, gray, and black. They might only deviate slightly from your usual wardrobe, but the variations in tone will still help you stand out.
You can also try shirts with subtle patterns like pinstripes, gingham, and more. A different-looking shirt can make a huge statement, especially if the rest of your outfit is understated.
- Have fun with neckties. If you prefer solid colors for most of your wardrobe, break up the monotony with a patterned or colorful tie. Neckties are also a subtle way to show off your personality in the way you dress. Get ties in different versions of your favorite color, and go for more unusual patterns that don’t look too campy or kitschy. When in doubt, you can even match your tie to the occasion. Wear a green tie on St. Patrick’s Day or have a Christmas tie or two that you can wear for the office Christmas party or the whole of December.
- Get pants that fit. Work pants are often something that too many men overlook. Most of the time, many men settle for work slacks that are too loose and baggy or too tight and stifling. A flattering pair of work pants should make your legs look less awkward and should complement the shape of your butt, regardless of your body type.
When in doubt, you can always go to a tailor to have the right pair of pants custom-made for you. It’s a worthwhile investment that can even help save you money over time. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable and confident wearing a pair of well-fitting pants, too.
- Be strategic with your accessories. The right pair of shoes or accents can elevate any simple or plain-looking work outfit. Even if you’re at an important meeting or a formal event where the dress code is a lot stricter, you can still spice things up with the shoes that you wear or by adding a tie clip or a nice watch to your getup. Not only will you look classier, but you can also make a statement with an accessory or two.
Of course, in addition to adapting a few or all of these tricks to revamp your work outfits, practice proper grooming. Keep your hair neat or decently styled, trim your facial hair if you have any, wear deodorant (and cologne, if you’d like), and make sure your fingernails are short and clean. No amount of sharp dressing can conceal a lack of attention to one’s personal hygiene.
There is nothing shallow about putting your best foot forward and taking care of yourself when it comes to work. After all, making a good impression requires confidence and poise. Liking what you wear to work is a step in the right direction for that.