What to Wear When There's No Dress Code

 Today's workplace is not one of the past. Now more than ever, company culture is shifting to allow employees greater flexibility in terms of when they work, where they work, and what they wear to the office.

In some ways, this is a perk. Forget the stuffy suits, the dry cleaning appointments, the high heels, and tight collars. But, more freedom can also make it more difficult to get dressed in the morning. When there's no company dress code, what do you wear to work? How casual is too casual? Will you look out of the place if you wear a dress shirt? Are sandals acceptable? What about sweatpants?

The questions abound. But, read on for tips on what to wear to work when there's no dress code in addition to interview outfit inspiration for both men and women. 

Wear What You Feel Confident In

Casual office attire
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A modern office, without a dress code, affords you the option to wear what you feel confident in, and express your personal style. Take inspiration from the employees above. Their styles vary significantly, from the refined but rugged look of the man in the red pants to the dressy athletic style of his coworker in the blue crew neck and sneakers.

Though each person here has a very individualized look, there is one common denominator. Each looks polished and put together. Although there are jeans and sneakers in the mix, if one of them had to make a presentation on the spot, he or she at least wouldn't have to worry about a wrinkled shirt or stained pants.

That's really the key. Put the effort into making casual clothes look office-ready, and you're good to go, as long as you look and feel the part.

Think Casual Restaurant

Casual office team
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If a workplace has no dress code, most likely what that means is it's a casual dress code. You can wear what you want, though keep in mind some things are assumed. Meaning that even though there's no dress code, you're still at work. Keep it classy.

If you were going out to a Sunday brunch or a casual dinner with friends, what would you wear? You'd probably want to look nice, but still feel comfortable. That can be a good standard of dress as you decide what to wear.

Polish Your Look With Easy Accessories

Casual office
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If you're used to a more formal office style and don't feel ready to shine in a basic t-shirt and jeans, but still want to fit into the company culture, consider dressing up a basic outfit simple accessories.

Wear a scarf. Add a statement necklace or a pair of earrings. Throw on a casual blazer over your t-shirt. There are lots of ways to refine a casual look without resorting to button-down shirts or dress pants.

Choose a Nice Shoe Over a Dress Shoe

Wedge heels versus tennis shoes
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Unsure of what shoes to wear? In a no-dress-code office, most likely, dress shoes will feel a bit too formal for the environment. Does that mean you can throw on any old pair from your closet? Not quite.

Sandals, sneakers, slip-ons, boots, and loafers are all okay. Yes, you can wear open-toe shoes, but what's more important is the overall state of your shoes. Your tattered, faded flip-flops that you wear to the beach probably aren't a good option, but a nice pair of leather thongs will probably work just fine. Along the same lines, opt for a pair of clean street sneakers over the dirty Adidas you wear to the gym.

Play Prints and Colors for a Fun but Professional Look

Woman leaning against a whiteboard
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In a casual work environment, you shouldn't feel bound to wearing all black. Incorporate prints, textures, and patterns into your look to add some spark to a laid-back outfit.

Like the woman above, swap out your everyday denim for a pair of jeans in a subdued floral print. Or, opt for khakis in a salmon color rather than beige.

Adding an unexpected but still workplace-appropriate touch can be a good way to strike that balance between "too casual" and business casual.

Wear Workplace Appropriate Workout Clothes

Woman stretching
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Thanks to a variety of brands who are designing refined athletic apparel, it is now possible to wear exercise clothing in an office setting, especially if you work in a more casual one.

That doesn't mean you can show up in that pair your favorite, worn-in sweatpants, but, if you style your outfit tactfully, you can make it work. Here's how to wear workout clothes to work.

First Impressions Are Still First Impressions

business team
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Let's say you have a job interview, and for whatever reason (maybe it's a start-up company or a non-traditional or non-professional organization) you expect your business best might not be suitable. So, you ask about the dress code, and the human resources manager tells you, "Oh, we pretty much wear whatever. We don't have a dress code, so you can keep it casual."

Then what? You have to keep in mind that even in a low-key environment, first impressions are still first impressions, and you should go the extra step to make sure you look and feel your best in an interview.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to wear a suit. But it does mean you should opt for a more polished look, even if it is still a casual one. 

Job Interview Outfits for Office Jobs

Business executives collaborating on project
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Depending on the type of job you are interviewing for, you may need to dress it up instead of dressing down like you would if you're interviewing at a start-up.

Here's a selection of job interview attire for offices and other workplaces.