Second graders, college students, interns and CEOs all face a similar predicament on their first day. They all stand in front of their closets and wonder, “What should I wear?” Public Relations professionals recognize the importance of first impressions. The question of what to wear is the simplest form of branding. What we’re really asking is: what am I going to wear that will properly reflect my brand. Here are a few tips to ease the first-day jitters and have you looking your best on your first day in PR. And these tips apply for other “big days” whether it’s a big client event, a new business pitch, a critical performance review or some other important occasion where you want to look and feel your best.
The first day
Plan your outfit at least one day in advance. Mornings are already stressful enough as it is. When you know exactly what you’re going to wear and the outfit is all laid out ready to go, it shaves at least fifteen minutes off your morning.
Wear something classic and conservative on your first day. I suggest slacks, a nice blouse or sweater and a timeless piece of jewelry. It’s also helpful to think back to your interview with the company and recall what the person who interviewed you was wearing. Use that as a template for your outfit and add a flourish of something uniquely “you” to it.
Wear comfortable shoes. Chances are you’ll be walking quite a bit on your first day – touring the building, learning where to pick up the mail, where to grab lunch, etc. I suggest wearing flats or a kitten heel.
You nailed the first day, so now what?
The thing about the first day is that there’s a second day, and a third – you can’t keep wearing the same thing (unless you’re Steve Jobs, of course). Those transitioning into the work world have it the hardest. They don’t have a wardrobe filled with seamless work attire and shelling out the cash to buy it isn’t in exactly the cards.
My advice: start shopping the sale racks, now! Go for conservative, timeless pieces of the highest quality you can afford. These items can be pretty expensive, but when they go on sale, you can get some incredible deals.
The best advice I’ve ever received
Dress for the position you’re working towards, not the position you currently hold. My grandmother gave me this advice when I was young and it’s never left me. It’s a powerful reminder that it’s not just about looking the part; it’s about being the part and having the goods to back it up.