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How to Build a Workplace Wardrobe

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Well you’ve finally made it. You survived college (somehow), aced the job interview (with help from EveryGuyed’s How To Dress For A Job Interview), and you’ve got your first day at the office today.

Everything is looking up for you, but after a quick celebratory phone call to your friends, you realize you have no idea what you’re supposed to wear. There’s nothing quite as intimidating as looking at your closet that first morning, trying to figure out just what to put on.

Thank god you bookmarked EveryGuyed, because we’ve suffered enough first days and stuffy offices that we know just how to help you out. While not all offices hold themselves to the same standard, you don’t want to show up in jeans on your first day while everyone else is in suits and ties. So relax, take a deep breath, and look over the suggestions we’ve compiled below.

The Office

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The modern office is much like the Serengeti. It’s a merciless environment that encourages survival of the fittest, where stragglers are picked apart by hungry young predators looking to move to the top of the food chain.

To that end, one of the most important things to remember is to blend in to your surroundings. If everyone in your office is wearing pinstripes, go buy a pinstripe suit. If everyone in your office wears brown shoes, go buy a pair of brown shoes: this isn’t “selling out,” this is survival. When you’re boss is looking for that next promotion, you want your work to stand out, not your outfits.

Suits For The Office

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These will be the workhorses of your wardrobe, so be judicious and don’t rush into any purchases. Don’t worry about being picky or having high standards here – you’ll likely be wearing these things every single workday, so you better be happy with them. They should be comfortable, and they should fit comfortably enough that you wouldn’t worry about losing or gaining five pounds.

To start with, buy two business suits, one in charcoal and one in a dark navy blue. These colors are universally accepted as the most versatile suit colors, and the least likely to offend.

As you start to climb that ladder, you can start to add pinstripes and double-breasted suits, but stay conservative for now. For more information on buying tips, and suit care, consult any one of our EveryGuyed articles on suits for more specific tips.

Shirts For The Office

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Good sets of quality shirts are a real asset in any work environment. Whether or not the suit-and-tie attitude is enforced at your workplace, you’re probably still going to spend most of your working days in a button up shirt. At the bare minimum, you ought to have enough shirts to last you the five-day working week.

If you need guidelines, try a mix of four in traditional white or blue, spread-collar, button-cuff shirts, with one that’s a bit more fashion forward. Again, look to your fellow employees for cues as to what plays in the office; a shirt is a piece you can get adventurous with, but always have the staples covered.

Shoes For The Office

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A good rotation of two or three pairs of shoes will ensure that no one pair will get worn out too quickly, and keep your feet from smelling like a gym. Again, do your best to blend in; but a good start are sensible pairs of brown, and black lace-ups.

Neckties For The Office

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Conservative, conservative, conservative! We’re not all lucky enough to work at GQ or here at EveryGuyed, so it might not fly for you to walk in sporting a new skinny tie by Paul Smith. While we appreciate all the work that Mr. Smith has done for men and color, your boss might not. For the truly clueless, look to EveryGuyed’s ‘Men’s Guide to Ties.’

Socks For The Office

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Choose socks that match well, but will look sharp against your shoes. If you’re wearing brown shoes, try black socks, and vice-versa. This contrasting look adds depth to your wardrobe, and ensures that you avoid the pitfall of turning your lower legs into one seamless, color-matched blob.

Patterns like argyle and polka dot will never go out of style, and if there was ever a place where you can inject a dash of color or flare, the sock is it. For those itching to add a touch of oft-unseen whimsy, try adding sock braces like your granddad had.

Accessories For The Office

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Accessories should be subdued and stay low-key. Don’t drop the money for a Rolex watch or Louis Vuiton wallet since it might lead your boss to question your salary. It’s an unwise investment so early on in your career, and unless your expecting a six-figure Wall Street bonus, stay within your means.

Finally, remember that all the metal and leather on your body should match; silver cuff links for a silver money clip, and a brown belt for brown shoes. We here at EveryGuyed aren’t big fans of preaching hard and fast style rules, but this is one that almost always holds up.

Expanding Your Wardrobe

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You can start to expand on this base by adding environment appropriate clothing.

If you’re in a super-casual creative office (like ours), you might consider buying a pair of designer jeans to fill out your closet. If your office is filled with Ivy League grads and finance types, add a navy blazer by Burberry or another upscale brand to give your wardrobe a touch of high fashion class. Better yet, if you went to an equally prestigious school, there’s no reason not to add an alumni necktie or ring to your wardrobe.

Summary

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Basically, there are a few simple things you should take away from the this article: always dress in the context of your environment, inject flair and personality on small, but noticeable levels with accessories (but not too many), and don’t be afraid to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Comments?

Want more in depth information on buying, wearing, and choosing each of these individual items? Check the EveryGuyed archives! Got more questions? Want us to evaluate a recent purchase for the office wardrobe? Use the comment box below to get in on this discussion…

Author

Xiaoli Li
Xiaoli Li is an often-missed former editor at the EveryGuyed network. He's currently working as a freelance writer, and probably yelling at a soccer game somewhere out there.
Xiaoli Li

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