How to Dress on Your First Day of a New Job

woman wearing karen millen forever dress in blog post about what to wear for your first day of a new job

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At the conclusion of a seemingly endless recruitment process, there is no sweeter sound than the words “you’re hired” on the other end of the phone.  Ahhh, what sweet relief! Though once the shine wears off, another question comes to mind: “What am I going to wear?” For some, the answer is easier.  But for the majority, the answer isn’t as obvious, particularly because we live in times when dress codes are more relaxed and aren’t always clear.  

Personally, I’ve always found it exciting to decipher what to wear on the first day of a new job.  Day one in the office is a little like day one at a new school (without the mean girls) and there’s a real buzz that comes with the opportunity to start afresh, meet new people and get stuck into some new work.  

And while there are no hard and fast rules on what to wear, you want to ensure that you fit in with your colleagues while also conveying confidence through your outfit.   That said, working out what to wear on your first day is a more nuanced exercise with different considerations to factor in.   And not to add any pressure, but your first impression does carry some weight, so in this post, I’m going to be sharing my three tips for dressing for your first day.  

Karen Millen dress (sz UK 8), Celine bag (review here), Dior heels, Ray Ban sunglasses

#1 – Play it safe at first

If in doubt, just don’t risk it.  As the new person, you’re better off being slightly overdressed than underdressed.  That said, you might be working at a place where they adopt a ‘dress for your day’ policy or a liberal work environment where Casual Friday can mean activewear.  I normally adopt a pretty conservative approach for the first couple of weeks which allows enough time to make those first impressions before you start making those tweaks in line with the culture of the company.   For me, and taking into account that law firms are generally more conservative environments, that means suits and simple tailored dresses.  They look slick, but make getting dressed in the morning really easy. 

Gone are the days of HR manuals with visual aids of acceptable office dress (usually stock photos from the 90s… lel), but if you’re really stumped, just reach out to HR.  

collage of two photos of woman wearing reiss lara dress in blog post about what to wear for your first day of a new job

Reiss dress, also here (sz S), Celine bag (review here), Gucci belt (review here), Everlane flats* (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses

#2 – Take a cue from your interview

If you were able to get a sneak peak of the way people were dressed on the day you interviewed (assuming you attended the interview in-person), you can take your cues from that.  If no one in the office was wearing a suit, you can probably get away with leaving yours at home too.  That said, if you’re coming into a more senior role, it’s important that your outfit projects authority and structured pieces like suits always do the job.  

Regardless of how relaxed my day is shaping up to be, I always make sure I have a blazer on hand because there might be instances where I’ve been asked to attend meetings at late notice.  Maintaining a sense of formality is really important in those contexts. 

Sarah Lloyd jacket* (sz 8), Sarah Lloyd trousers* (sz 10), Dior heels, Arket tee, Celine bag (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses

Use ‘WHATVEEWORE’ for 20% off Sarah Lloydsee my comprehensive post here

#3 – Wait before you overhaul your wardrobe

Before you get excited and start overhauling your old wardrobe (because a new job is always a great excuse to splurge!), from personal experience, it is always best to wait a few weeks for things to settle down before adding new pieces.  You don’t want to buy pieces that later down the track you realise weren’t quite right for your new environment. 

Mango dress (sz S), Celine bag (review here), Dior heels, Ray Ban sunglasses

If you’re about to start a new job, congratulations and best of luck! I hope this post gave you some pointers to help you plan what to wear for your first day.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

P.S. My edit of workwear staples from The Fold London and Sarah Lloyd (including an exclusive discount!)

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