The entire purpose of dress codes, particularly in the workplace, is to serve as a kind of uniform. They’re there to create cohesion and some level of equality amongst people, while conveying an image of the group as a whole.
Whether your designated dress code is business casual, business professional, business formal, or indeed if there’s no dress code at all, each sends out a message about the way you work. It’s worth remembering that no one of these is necessarily better than the others, rather there’s simply a time, place, and environment for each.
So long as there’s a dress code to follow, the implication is that you’ll dress similarly to your colleagues, but that doesn’t mean you have to look the same. There are still some great ways to help you stand out from the crowd in the right way.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the simplest ways to do just that, no matter the dress code:
Pay Attention to the Details
Since you’ll be wearing similar clothing to everyone else around you, the best way to stand out is by paying attention to the subtler details of your outfit. A good principle to stick to here is the 80/20 rule—80 percent uniform, 20 percent individual. That 20 percent can be established in the cut and fit of your shirt, and the colour combinations with your trousers, chinos, sweater or jacket. The final flourishes of your outfit such as buttons, pocket details, tie and footwear choices will all allow you to stand out while blending in.
If you’re wearing a formal suit, allow the little things such as the inner lining, lapels, tie clips, pocket squares, and cufflinks to do the talking.
If it’s business casual attire, you’ve got much more freedom to express yourself, but sticking to the 80/20 rule is still a good idea. A well-chosen watch or belt, a nice pair of smart casual shoes, and of course, a well fitted shirt will all help you stand out just enough.
Let Quality Shine Through
There’s no substitute for quality. It makes no difference if you’re wearing chinos and a polo or a four-piece suit, the quality of your clothes speaks volumes.
Buying quality clothing doesn’t mean breaking the bank however, though it usually does involve making a slightly bigger investment than what you might spend in the fast fashion driven, highstreet marketplace, where garments are designed to depreciate quickly to force turnover.
By viewing the clothes you buy as a long-term investment rather than just a stop gap, you can focus more on owning better garments, which look better and stay in top condition for longer.
Balance Your Comfort & Style
This is too often overlooked, but why would we wilfully choose to be uncomfortable in our clothing? Think of the sharp dressed man on the morning commute, fidgeting and agitated with his shirt, his top button, his tie or his jacket. Sure, he might look great for an hour or two, but soon enough, he’ll look even more flustered, loosening his clothes and looking for room to breathe.
If you feel uneasy in what you wear, it’ll always tell in the end. So, when you’re selecting what to wear to follow a dress code, always consider if you can wear it all day long without causing discomfort.
This point ties in perfectly with what we said above about quality. A good quality piece of clothing will not just look great, but it’ll feel great to wear.
Shirts are of particular importance here, since they’re in constant contact with your skin. A well-made and well fitted shirt will compliment your form nicely, but it’ll also allow for long term, comfortable wearing, even when buttoned up fully and paired with a tie.
We hope that by now you’ll feel much more confident in allowing yourself to stand out a little more than usual. Check out our related articles and guides below and stop by the Nickson Online Store when you’re ready to purchase your next shirt.
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