If you’re coming to the end of your studies or you’ve just left university, entering the graduate job market can be a scary prospect. With CV to tweak, interview techniques to perfect, and maybe even a relocation to consider, there can be a lot on your plate.
However, you shouldn’t overlook the first impression you want to give during this crucial first stage of your career. Whether you’re still meeting potential employers or you’re about to start in a new role, you should still take the time to look your best, as this will positively influence your professional image.
What’s more, it’s even been found that dressing to impress will improve your own performance in the workplace. One study published by the Wall Street Journal discovered that, as well as influencing others, dressing smartly and stylishly can boost your business thinking and self-confidence.
With this in mind, we’ve put together our top tips for dressing for the graduate job you want. Put these into action and you’re sure to inspire yourself to success.
Figure out the lay of the land
While you may be tempted to go all out at first, it’s important to remember that not every working environment requires formal dress, so if you show up suited and booted you’re going to stand out for the wrong reasons. Having said that, you should always go for a formal look if you’re attending a job interview, as this is generally expected.
When you’ve secured a position, be sure to ask about the office dress code before your first day, then aim to dress up to its smarter limits. For instance, should most guys be wearing smart casual outfits like a button-down shirt and jeans, you can swap out the denim for something like wool trousers to give your attire that smarter edge.
Fashion Beans have a great guide to business casual dress codes to give you a much better idea of what to expect when your office doesn’t require formal attire.
Invest in the right suit
When you’re going to a big interview or a new employer does require formal dress, you’re going to have to invest in the standard uniform: a suit. Now, as a student or recent graduate, you shouldn’t be aiming for a tailored piece from Saville Row just yet, as this will probably blow your finances for the first few months.
But, that’s not to say you can’t find quality garments on a budget — if you know where to look it’s entirely possible. Start by reading this guide to budget tailored suits from Idle Man, which also takes you through all the frequently asked questions about visiting a tailor for the first time. Then, it’s a case of pricing up your options and investing in the right suit.
Know your dress shirts
Dressing in a nice suit is one thing, but you need to pair it with a great dress shirt for it to work. After the expense of the tailor, it can be tempting to skimp on other items to save some money. But, it’s worth bearing in mind that there will be occasions, such as hot summer days, when you take off your suit jacket and your shirt will be left to do the work, so you won’t want a cheap one.
Picking out a nice shirt is also an opportunity to add some colour or pattern to your outfit. Whether you’re going for something plain or something with a little more personality, be sure to choose a shirt that doesn’t clash with the colour and style of your suit and any tie that you have in mind. Instead of buying a multi-pack of white shirts, shop at a quality menswear retailer, such as the formal shirts at Pritchards, as they’re sure to have a range of designer numbers to suit all tastes.
Find shoes to complete your look
No formal look is complete without the right shoes, and you’ll need to add a pair to your wardrobe if you plan to dress to impress. There are a variety of styles you will have to consider, as well as a few sartorial rules for colour matching with your suit. This article from Business Insider includes a visual chart to help you identify which style and colour are for you.
However, if you are looking for versatility and value for money, our advice would be to go for a quality pair of brogues. This type of shoe can not only go with your suit, but with a business casual or even casual outfit, so you won’t have to invest in multiple pairs for different style occasions (at least not yet) — ideal for a student or graduate on a budget.
Follow our golden rules and you will be able to dress for the graduate job you want, inspiring yourself and making a great impression along the way.