When it comes to a new job, the interview isn’t the only place to which you should consider wearing a suit and tie. While the dress code at your new workplace may range from casual to business formal, your objective the first day is to make a good impression on your new coworkers – and, most importantly, your superiors.

Dress Slightly More Conservatively than the Dress Code

Knowing the dress code in your new workplace will go a long ways toward helping you choose an outfit – and easing some of your anxiety as to whether it’s appropriate. But how do you find out what dress code you should follow?

• Ask. Probably the best way to find out what you should wear is to ask someone. If it wasn’t already mentioned in the interview, you should have an opportunity to ask once you’re told you got the job.
• Check employee resources. You may have been given an employee handbook when you were officially hired. If you won’t be getting any official paperwork until your first day on the job, you might be able to find employee resources on the company’s website or by contacting the human resources department.
• Observe. If you can’t find the dress code any other way, you may be able to go off your observations during interviews or other visits. If you did your homework properly, you should have noted what your interviewer and other personnel were wearing.

Once you know the company’s dress code, you should have a much easier time deciding what to wear on your first day.

Casual Dress Codes

If you have just landed a job with a company that lets you dress in street clothes, count yourself as part of a lucky minority. However, don’t let the casual dress code go to your head just yet – you will still to tread carefully if you want to make a good impression from Day 1.

In general, it’s a good idea to dress at least one step up from what is usually worn at the workplace. That way you can make a good impression without looking awkward. In a casual work environment, this means dressing in business casual, at the very least: a polo shirt or basic button-down, Dockers, and textured leather or suede lace-up shoes.

Business Casual Dress Codes

If your new workplace abides by a business casual dress code, as many do these days, you should still dress a little nicer than the norm. Slacks, a nice button-down shirt, and a sport coat are a good choice. If the workplace tends toward the dressier side of business casual, you might choose a suit instead of pants and a sport coat. Although many men feel awkward dressing up when no one else is, wearing a suit and tie certainly can’t hurt, particularly if you can relax and wear it with confidence.

Business Formal Dress Codes

If you will be working in a highly traditional industry, such as banking or law, your workplace may require a business formal dress code. When a suit and tie is already part of the standard dress, it’s hard to dress much above the norm. However, you definitely should make sure that you tend toward the more conservative end of the spectrum: A traditionally-cut suit in a dark color, preferably charcoal, and a tie with a classic pattern can go a long way toward making a positive first impression.

Better to Err on the Side of a Suit

Unfortunately, there are always cases where you can’t find anything out about the dress code ahead of time. Maybe you have been unable to find any literature on the employee dress code, and haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of your contact at the company. Maybe you were interviewed on Friday, and have reason to suspect everyone in the office was dressed down for “Casual Friday.” Whatever the reason, not knowing what to wear on your first day at work can be the source of much anxiety as the big day approaches.

When all planning and anticipating fails, however, it’s best to fall back on the old rule of thumb: Just wear a suit and tie. While in a worst-case scenario you may stand out as being overdressed, this will never actually detract from the first impressions you are making with your new coworkers and managers. On the other hand, coming to work under dressed on your first day definitely can detract from those all-important first impressions.

Your first day on the job is an important occasion. While you may have already met and interviewed with a couple of managers or human resource personnel, think of your first day as your interview with all of the rest of your coworkers and supervisors. Just like at an interview, dressing conservatively on your first day of work ensures that you make a good impression on the people that have the most say in your future success.

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