What to Wear to Work: Work Clothing 101

Choosing what to wear to work can depend on many different variables. What’s expected in your industry? Do you have a workplace dress code? How strictly is your workplace’s dress code followed? Do you need to wear a uniform, and if so, are you allowed to make any additions or alterations to it? 

If you work from home, what’s appropriate Zoom attire? Do you need to get dressed at all? Does it matter that you’ve been wearing the same sweatpants all week? 

What you’ll find below:

  • Dos and Don’ts of work clothing
  • What to wear to work depending on your profession
  • What to wear if you work from home
  • What to wear for work orientation
  • How to dress up a work uniform



Work Clothing Dos and Don'ts

✅ Ask your employer about your workplace dress code.

✅ Wear layers to combat fluctuating workplace temperatures.

✅ Coordinate colors and tones.

✅ Double check your glasses and teeth for fingerprints and leftovers.

✅ Store your work clothes away from bad smells, such as cigarette smoke, pets, or food.

✅ Research clothing expectations for your industry. 

❌ Don’t ignore dress code rules.

❌ Avoid clothing that’s too big or too small.

❌ Don’t wear flip flops or expose your feet.

❌ Never wear revealing clothing or try to sexualize your work attire.

❌ Don't wear strong smelling scents that could bother those sensitive to smell.

❌ Don’t wear clothing with offensive words or images.

❌ Don’t wear clothing with political messages, bigotry, or anything non-inclusive.

❌ Don’t wear clothing that is unwashed, stained, or smelly.



What to Wear to Work Based on Profession

admin outfit

What Do Office Admins Wear to Work

Workplace clothing for office admins is dependent on your office’s dress code. If you were recently hired in an office, adhere strictly to this dress code and keep an eye on what your coworkers and colleagues are wearing. Do you notice that although there’s a dress code, it seems to be pretty relaxed? Or is it just the opposite? Ask around. What do your new office pals suggest?

Consider the industry you’re in. The dress code at a high profile lawyer’s office is going to be different from anything you’ll find at most startups. Generally, offices prefer business attire or business casual, which are pretty broad definitions these days.

A casual dress code may include:

  • Khakis
  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Appropriately-lengthed shorts
  • Athletic shoes
  • Closed toed shoes 

A business casual dress code may include:

  • Short or long-sleeved shirts with collars
  • Nice pants (khakis or corduroys)
  • Sports coats
  • Vests
  • Cardigans or sweaters
  • Casual shoes (but not runners)

A business formal dress code may include:

  • Suit jackets
  • Dress shirts
  • Ties
  • Professional dresses
  • Dress suits
  • Formal shoes

No matter the specifics of your office’s dress code, keep it respectful. As a general rule of thumb, leave the Cannibal Corpse band tee and mini skirt at home.

    teacher outfit

    What Do Teachers Wear to Work

    A teacher’s dress code is once again dependent on the kind of school they teach in, but generally, most teachers stick to the business casual style that’s outlined above. Teachers want to present a professional but not overly formal look. If you are new to teaching or new to a school, ask your boss and your colleagues about the dress code.

    A teacher’s clothing should elicit respect but not stand out in any overly flashy way. At the same time, the clothing a teacher chooses should be relatively comfortable, as they spend much of their day standing.

      nurse outfit

      What Do Nurses Wear to Work

      Aside from being a charming workplace sitcom from the early 2000s, scrubs are generally what nurses are asked to wear to work.  

      Scrubs are made from thin, slick material, so they can repel most liquids and contaminants and be cleaned easily. They’re often cheap and sold as a top with matching long pants. More often than not, scrubs will come in some shade of blue, but there are different shades and patterns available, depending on what is allowed by the workplace and the level of personality the wearer wants to display.

      Scrubs are meant to fit loosely, allowing for optimal movement. When it comes to shoes, a nurse may be required to wear simple tennis shoes or slip-resistant shoes. Although it depends on the specific hospital or clinic’s dress code, nurses are generally asked not to wear any jewelry beyond a simple watch, as dangling jewelry could get stuck on a patient’s clothing and disturb them. Instead, accessorize with a stethoscope for that charming “I work in healthcare”appeal.

        speech pathologist outfit

        What Do Speech Pathologists Wear to Work

        A speech pathologist is a client-facing profession, so it’s important to look professional. Depending on the nature and setting of the job, it may be most appropriate to dress in business casual attire or something that a teacher might wear.

        If you work with young children, you should wear something comfortable, as you may be required to work on the floor or on a playground, and so on. In some cases, a speech pathologist may wear a simple white jacket over their business casual clothing.

        If a speech pathologist works in a hospital or with a medical team, scrubs may be required, but it’s unlikely.

          engineer outfit

          What Do Engineers Wear to Work

          An engineer’s clothing will differ depending on where the job is located and the responsibilities of the role. After all, there are many different kinds of engineers.

          Some engineers, such as software engineers, will work in an office. In this case, their attire will depend on the dress code of that office, though generally, a software engineer should expect to wear khakis or jeans, closed toed shoes, short or long-sleeved shirts with collars, or t-shirts in more casual environments. 

          Civil engineers may work on a more dangerous job site, which means they’ll need to wear protective clothing such as steel-toed boots and hard hats. A chemical engineer might wear protective goggles and a lab coat.  

          As with any profession, if you’re just starting out, pay close attention to the dress code and the work attire of your colleagues. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

            larry says

            Cover your paws! Never wear flip-flops on a construction site.


            wfh outfit

            What to Wear When You Work From Home

            Working from home has become much more commonplace for workers in many industries. And since you don’t need to see your manager or any of our coworkers outside of the occasional Zoom meeting, it’s easy to become a little slack when it comes to our workday clothes. And by ‘a little slack’, we mean it’s easy not to change out of your pajamas at all, drifting straight from bed over to your desk to ‘begin’ your work.

            As you probably already know, this isn’t the best way to start our workday. Beginning the day by getting dressed is an important step toward optimizing and maintaining our productivity. Washing and putting on fresh clothes is part of a healthy morning routine that will start your workday on the right path.

            Choose what works best for you, but make sure you change into something new, even if that’s another pair of pajamas. If you struggle to separate your work life from your home life, make an effort to change into work clothes, even if you don't need to. It can get you into the right mindset for your workday. 

            For those who don’t have trouble getting into a work groove, comfortable clothes will do just fine, so long as you change into something new when you wake up. And if you have virtual meetings planned, ensure you are dressed appropriately for the camera (at least from the waist up!)



              orientation outfit

              How to Dress for Orientation at Work

              Before going to your orientation, ask about the dress code. If you can, bring it up in your interview, or ask a future coworker afterward. If you haven’t had either of those opportunities, call ahead and ask the office admin. You should never walk in hoping for the best, only to find out your dress code assumptions were way off base.

              No matter the dress code, keep it simple; this is not a day to try and stand out. You want to make a good impression, and it’s an unfortunate reality that individuals with their own unique style can be greeted with apprehension from management. Play it safe on your first day as you get to know your workplace and the people in it.

                How to Dress Up a Work Uniform 

              • Don’t take it too far or overdo your additions.
              • Don’t add anything that breaks the rules of your workplace dress code.
              • Don’t add anything that’s rude, bigoted, or disrespectful to others.
              • If they are allowed, use jewelry and accessories to enhance your look.
              • Dress up your hair if you aren’t allowed to add anything to your uniform.
              • Ensure you have the right fit—not too loose or tight. If you lose or gain a significant amount of weight, invest in another work uniform that fits better. (Keep the old one just in case!)
              • Add a tasteful pin or broach for a small pop of your own style.
              • Add some hidden funky socks for a little secret personality.
              • Ensure your clothing is clean before each shift, especially if you need to wear the same uniform multiple days in a row.
              • If you pack your uniform to change into, ensure it’s folded neatly to avoid wrinkles.
              • Keep your work clothing away from smelly odors, including smoke, animals, and strong-smelling food.
              • If you have pets, always check for animal hair and use a lint brush before each shift.

                Work uniform





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                ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                Jordan's passion for travel led her to design a career as a remote content marketer. Nearing 1000 published articles, she's spent the past decade using her interdisciplinary education to research and write content for a wide variety of industries. Working remotely, Jordan spends half of the year exploring different corners of the world. At home, she's content exploring fictional lands—Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings.

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