Networking and Career Advice

How to Dress on the First Day of Work (Men & Women)

Natasha Serafimovska

Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer

You did it! Out of hundreds of applicants and dozens of people interviewed, you’re the one who got a new job. Congrats! Now comes the question of how to dress on the first day of work.

You may have impressed the hiring manager, but now you have to impress and build rapport with the people you’d be working alongside. Your choice of attire is the first thing they’d see, so what you wear really matters.

Aside from making a good first impression, choosing the right fit can also make you feel more comfortable and more confident in your own skin. This can further improve your performance and knowledge retention which are key when starting a new job. 

Why is It Important to Dress Up Well on Your First Day at Work?

There’s no such thing as a second chance at a first impression. How you appear and present yourself on your first day at work will impact how your co-workers and your manager perceive you. Not only that, but your appearance can have a long-term impact on your career. A study has found that 93% of executives believe that how you dress can influence your prospects of getting a promotion. 

How to Make a Positive First Impression on Your First Day at Work?

Research the Dress Code on Interview

In order to make sure you aren’t woefully over-, or god forbid, under-dressed on the first day, pay attention to what employees wear when you’re interviewing for the job. Are people wearing mostly suits or is denim in all its shades dominating the office space? 

Try Classic Pieces Instead of New Trends

This is not the time to make a bold statement with your ripped jeans and emo shirts. Opting for classic pieces like a single-colored shirt and dress pants will make you look professional without seeming like you’re trying too hard. 

Use Pieces You Already Own

You might be tempted to run to the mall upon hearing you got the job, but that may not be necessary. It’s best that you wear something you already own and feel comfortable in. Then as time goes by, you can buy pieces that you feel will help you feel more comfortable in your office space.  

What to Wear on the First Day of Your New Job

There is no right answer when it comes to deciding how to dress on your first day at work. The clothes you choose will depend on the corporate culture of your employer as well as the industry you’re serving. Some industries like law, banking and professional services prefer business attire. Meanwhile tech and creative industries are more relaxed and leave it up to the employee to wear what they like. Even in the same company, client-facing departments may dress differently than people who work only internally. 

So, make sure you do your research before you make up your mind.

What Should a Man Wear on the First Day at Work?


Suits are an evergreen option that is guaranteed to confer professionalism. They come in two pieces which are made of matching material and color. If you don’t own a suit, you may want to invest in buying at least two sets. That way you have a replacement in case the first one gets dirty or damaged. Opt for dark colors like grey or navy blue for a maximum effect.


Blazers are the dressed-down version of a suit jacket. They can still offer a professional look, but they have a looser fit and come in a variety of colors which can be paired with dress pants in a different color. 

Dress Pant

Dress pants are smart trousers made of cotton or wool and usually in a single color. They can be paired with a blazer or a long-sleeved shirt for an alternative to a formal business suit. Again, if possible, opt for darker shades to maintain a professional look.


Ties are the cherry on top when it comes to business attire. You can choose a wider cut, which is usually associated with a more conservative style. Alternatively, you could wear a narrow tie, which is preferred among younger professionals. Choose either a monochromatic type or go for a simple pattern like stripes or subtle polka dots.


The shoes you wear to work will depend on the type of work you do. You can opt for dress shoes, but in many cases, it is perfectly acceptable to wear sneakers to work. Just make sure your sneakers match your attire and help you maintain a clean, professional look. You should, however, avoid wearing flip flops, slippers, sandals, or any open-toed shoe.

Polo Shirt

Polo shirts are great if you’re going for a smart casual look. They have a V-style collar neckline with three buttons, and they usually come in short sleeves. They’re a great option for the spring or summer time.

Dark Denim

If your employer permits wearing jeans, then by all means benefit from this perk. That said, this is still a workplace. You don’t want to come in baggy jeans that are barely holding onto you or skinny jeans that are too tight. Instead, opt for a dark shade of jeans that are a good fit.

Dress Slacks

These trousers are an excellent choice for a smart casual look. Usually made of wool, they are very comfortable to wear and can be easily paired with shirts, t-shirts or cardigans, depending on the weather.

Dress Shoes

Shoes complete your look. If your office setting requires dress shoes, then the usual choice is a black or dark brown, highly polished leather shoe. Ideally, you’d go for a pair that you’ve already worn so you know without a doubt that they are comfortable. 

What Should a Woman Wear on the First Day of Work?


You can opt for a suit dress or combine your suit jacket with a suit pants or skirt. If you often wear dresses in your everyday life, then going for a suit dress can make you feel more at ease and comfortable. Either option needs to fit perfectly and be properly ironed.


When selecting your top, go for a shirt or a blouse that’s neither too tight or too loose. A natural, loose fit is the best option. You can pair your top with a suit jacket to accentuate your business look. 

Dress Shoes

In terms of shoes, you have several options. Heels may be the classic choice, but if you’re not used to wearing them then you can go for flat options like oxfords or loafers. Minimal decorations on the shoes are fine, as long as they look neat and professional. 


Don’t go overboard with your accessories. Instead, choose a simple pair of necklace and earrings that isn’t too jarring. If your combination of clothes permits it, belts can also be used to add extra character to your appearance. 


Denim is a particularly durable fabric made out of cotton and comes with its signature twill weave pattern. Here, steer away from any jeans that are faded, ripped or too baggy. Instead go for darker shades and a classic style.


You can be really creative here without detracting from your professionalism. Regardless of whether you opt for a skirt or smart trousers, you can easily pair these with a nice shirt to create an easy-going, smart look. Just make sure the skirt isn’t too short, otherwise it can really ruin the whole ensemble.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dress on the First Day of Work

How can I impress on my first day at work?

There are several things you can do to make sure you make a good first impression at work. First, be mindful of the clothes you wear. The first impression starts from the moment someone sets an eye on you, so a smart and crisp look will get you off to a good start. Accompany your smart look with a friendly and positive attitude. Ask questions, but also listen to what the other person is saying. Nothing can win people over like a cheerful and approachable personality.

Do you have to wear a suit on the first day of work?

This really depends on the dress code of your employer as well as your job role. Executives in the financial and professional services industry are often seen in suits, while tech engineers or marketing professionals are a bit more casual. If you’re unsure, being overdressed is always better than being under-dressed, so it won’t be the end of the world if you show up in a suit and everyone else is a bit more casual.


There are so many factors that dictate the course of our career. From the skills we have and the experiences we’ve acquired all the way to our personality, aspiration and appearance. You may think it’s vain to consider the physical look as part of one’s worth as an employee, but the reality is that we’re predisposed to assess and judge anyone new we meet. Your co-workers will form an opinion of you whether you like it or not, so you might as well make an effort to nudge them in the right direction.

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