Dress for Success: Is it acceptable to dress “above” company requirements?

by epi on July 10, 2012

Q: Our company has casual Fridays and in general has a much more relaxed atmosphere about dress than most companies I’ve worked at.  Is it acceptable to dress “above” the company’s requirements?  I have been told to always dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

A: In a nutshell, yes, it is acceptable to dress “above” your office’s requirements.  I like the concept of dressing for the job you aspire to, rather than the job you now hold.  Another approach is to dress “one notch up.”  This will give you a sense of how far “above” the norm is acceptable.  For a man, if the general work attire is a pullover shirt and khakis, wearing a three-piece suit is probably going too far.  A button-down shirt and blazer would be a more appropriate wardrobe upgrade.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder July 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Dear Emily Post Team,

Very interesting subject and great replies too!
I too would feel inclined to dress ‘above’ company requirements.
In general, when both of us were international consultants, we observed that in Asia the dress code for office is being observed far more serious. As well as in South America. We ought to bring back some of that to the USA again.
Thanks for at least bringing this up.



Lilli July 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I would also be aware of the culture in your office – where I work you’re likely to have people think you are interviewing for a new job if you start wearing suits all of a sudden. But I agree – our country is pretty lazy in the wardrobe department and it’s nice to see that some people still care about looking professional!


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