Do you dress to impress? Or is your work wardrobe more inspired by George Costanza of Seinfeld fame, with his staunch refusal to wear anything but sweatpants? While times and trends in where and how we work – and certainly in how we dress – have changed dramatically in recent years, one old adage still holds true: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Follow these tips to be dressed appropriately for your professional pursuits:

  • Never make assumptions about workplace attire, and if you’re unsure ask what is appropriate. According to Forbes magazine, 35% of the workforce is currently made up of freelancers and independent contractors, and about 1/3 who work for businesses and corporations work remotely off-site at least some of the time. Even those freelancers who prefer to spend their days in yoga pants need a work wardrobe for meetings and networking events. When meeting a new contact or client for the first time, unless you are sure of their work environment, it’s appropriate to ask about their culture and whether there is a dress code of which you should be aware.
  • Dress to your location. There is a big difference between corporate boardrooms and coffee shops. A good rule of thumb is to dress to meet the tone and tenor of the surrounding environment. If you’re unsure, always err on the side of being overdressed – being overly casual can be perceived as lazy or sloppy.
  • Build a portfolio of basics. Everyone should have those few staples that form the foundation of a great work wardrobe – such as business suits, white blouses and pencil skirts. From there, the right accessories (over- and under-layers as well as ties, scarves and jewelry) can create great combinations. Just remember to bring these essentials to your neighborhood Klinke Cleaners after wearing. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing when you need them again they’ll be fresh and clean and not buried at the bottom of your closet.

Just like everything else in life, the workplace is constantly evolving and trends come and go. Steve Jobs was known for his basic black turtleneck and then along came Mark Zuckerberg wearing hooded sweatshirt every day. For the rest of us, the impression we make in our professional lives can have a big impact on our career path and our success. Our services – including our “In by 10, ready by 4” promise and our Zip n Stitch alterations service – are there to help you looking good and feeling confident at work.

(c) Can Stock Photo / Kurhan