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As long as I’ve got my suit and tie: a man’s guide to building your graduate working wardrobe

Congratulations! You are now a man with a job, and you need a professional wardrobe to match. It may seem that being a working man puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to options for what you can wear to work, and from experience I would have to agree with this. Women have a far greater scope as to what can be deemed as ‘smart’ attire and there is little you can do to change this – unless you want to do a Branson and switch to wearing skirts to the work!


One word – disturbing.

It seems the image of what is deemed to be ‘smart’ for men are largely restricted to the classics: a smart shirt, trousers, a tie and shoes. This often causes debates around such issues ‘Should men wear shorts to work?’ during periods of hot weather. The truth is, any such issues are at the discretion of the employer, if your employer believes it is imperative to your job to wear a certain outfit, it is their call to make. You may find that your future employer is more open to what you can wear during different parts of the year.

Here is my guide to picking the essential all season wardrobe!

How should I dress?

Your work attire will ultimately reflect the characteristics and culture of the organisation you will be entering. If you are going to be working in an office environment in the public sector then the chances are that you will need to dress smartly at all times. Whereas, if you are working in a creative organisation, such as Google, dress code will be more relaxed.


Smart or Casual – leave the decision up to your employer

You may already have an idea of what you are going to wear in your new job; however I would strongly advise that you consult with your future employer as to what the company dress code consists of. This will ensure that you avoid making an embarrassing faux pas on your first day.

The essentials

If you are working in an office environment then I would say that it is important that you have the following, to cope with all seasons:

Long Sleeve work shirts – a staple of the modern day office. I suggest that you buy more than the 1 shirt a day you will need for the working week. This will mean that you will always have a couple of backup shirts, washed, ironed and ready to wear (I didn’t say ironed well…) in case of emergency.

Smart trousers – buy a couple of pairs of Smart trousers, just make sure that they match with your shirts!

Short sleeve work shirts – Now this is a mistake that I continue to make every summer. I always remind myself that I need to buy some smart short sleeve shirts to wear when the summer gets here. Instead I sit here, sweltering in near 30 degree temperatures in my long sleeve shirt, hating myself for being ill prepared. Learn from my mistake and buy a few short sleeved shirts so that you are ready for whatever the weather throws at you.

Smart shorts – if you work in an office where you are allowed to whip your legs out in hot weather, make sure you are prepared by owning a pair of professional looking shorts.

Shoes – make sure that you have shoes that suit both outfits. I.e. smart shoes to match the shirt/trouser combo and smart footwear to match you summer short sleeve shirt/short outfit.

Ties – I have built up a sizeable collection of ties, most of which I never wear. The truth is that you only need a couple to change up your office style.

Optional – Depending on the time of year and the temperature of the office you work in you may find yourself feeling cold at times. Nothing a smart jumper / cardigan wouldn’t sort out!

My Top Tips


Remember that irons are hot and can burn holes in your clothes! (But seriously, iron your shirts inside out!)

• Do you enjoy ironing? I don’t! It is one of my least favourite things to do so anything that can make the process easier is fine by me. Have a look out for ‘easy iron’ shirts. These will save you time that you can use more productively – such as watching the Cricket.

Do you sweat a lot? Not a very nice question I know, but one that is important to take into account for when buying shirts. Often the cheaper shirts will be constructed from Polyester, which is notorious for making people sweat. Cotton shirts on the other hand are a better alternative, as the material allows for your skin to breathe better. But remember, the chances are these shirts will be more expensive!

Accessorise – is your work gear a bit boring? There are lots of ways you can accessorise! Consider wearing a waistcoat, crack out the suit jacket, belt up or purchase a professional looking watch to complete your outfit! Even, choosing your glasses (if you are as partially sighted as me!) can add to your overall look.

On a budget? – As mentioned above, sometimes cheaper products are cheaper for a reason. However there are bargains to be had. On the high-street, there are plenty of stores to suit all wallets and tastes (e.g. Charity shops, Primark, New look, Topman, Next, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer’s to name but a few). My top tip for saving is to keep an eye out for the sales and buy before you need the item in question. Whenever I see a sale at my favourite store, I always look to see if they have my preferred shirt brand in stock and at a reduced price. I regularly save £10-£12 per item using this method, and I never have to rush out to buy an item last minute. Double win.

Avoid buying without trying – I know from experience that it can be hard finding slim fit shirts that are not too tight around my shoulders or trousers to fit a size 31 waist. Try a few things on and then try to find your chosen product online at reduced prices. It will save you a lot of hassle!

Now get buying!

(Gok) Sean 


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