How to Dress and Act at Work: A Guide for Millennials

Whether you’re starting out with your career or have some years of experience under your belt, it can be tough to know how to dress and act at work. So many practices keep changing that it gets confusing to know the standards in the business world. But there are some tried and true principles that will serve you well. With that in mind, here’s a guide for millennials that will walk you through how to dress and act at work.

Getting Started

How you dress at work sends a powerful message to your employer and coworkers. It tells people a lot about your attitude and whether you take your job seriously. Always strive to make a great impression by looking polished and put together. At least when first starting a job with a new company, err on the cautious side by wearing dressier clothing. Many companies have a dress code, so ask the person who hired you whether the company has a standard like this and whether it’s spelled out in the employee handbook. Also observe coworkers to see how others in the company dress, and emulate their attire.

Polished Dress

Wear professional clothing and accessories. “Professional” can mean different things to different people, but it generally does not have to entail fancy suits and ties. It can include a nice pair of slacks, blouse, and scarf for women and slacks and a dress shirt for men. In certain professions such as finance, workers tend to wear fancier clothes, whereas professions that are creative or technology-oriented are often more casual. Wearing custom-designed uniforms can be a great way for a team at work to look professional. Some companies, like SKG Custom Uniforms, allow uniforms to be customized with logos or insignia.  That way you can look good and still represent your company.

Professional Demeanor

As is the case with how you dress, act professionally at work. This can vary depending on your company and profession, but in general use polite, respectful demeanor and language. Steer clear of slang, the latest fad in phrasing, or ultra-informal talk. Stick to a professional demeanor while not being overly stiff. Humor is fine as long as it’s appropriate. It’s helpful to observe and then mirror how your managers behave, so pay close attention and take your cues from them.

“Please” and “Thank You”

You undoubtedly learned when you were growing up to use manners, saying simple but powerful phrases like “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “I’m sorry” when appropriate. Manners definitely have their place in the business world, so when thinking about how to act at work, freely incorporate manners. Colleagues will see you as someone who has great interpersonal skills, and anyone with these types of abilities tends to go further, faster in the working world.

Ages and Stages

No matter what age or stage you are in your career, it’s important to be able to act appropriately and interact with people of all ages. The same is true for being able to comfortably interact with people at all levels of the organization, from the person who cleans the office to the CEO.

Overall, you can’t go wrong if you act polite and honest toward everyone who crosses your path at work. Avoid gossip, and steer clear of office politics whenever possible. Follow the Golden Rule, treating everyone else the way you’d like to be treated. A little empathy goes a long way. With these guidelines in mind, your career is much more likely to take off in a positive direction.

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn't on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym.

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