SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
October 19, 2015
What's On

What to wear: First day on the job

What better way to put a spring in your step than a shiny new job? On your first day, it’s imperative you dress for success while not putting a foot wrong and ending up on someone’s toes. Take our guide to a full charm offensive from water cooler to Nespresso machine.

  • Words: Farrin Foster and Josh Fanning
  • Illustrations: Jasmin Neophytou

For the gentleman:

While our guide won’t “suit” every job this list of clothes from top to tail will ensure you fit in without looking like a piece of the furniture.

Head: Often forgotten while toiling away in the depths of drudgery at your previous job, those long locks need a trim. You needn’t go full military but a new haircut will give you that extra lift for day one.

Eyes: When, if ever, have you had your eyes tested? While 20/20 vision is nice, what’s nicer is not having to screw up your face while you squint to read the fine print. Whipping out a nice pair of Oliver Peoples frames from your breast pocket will give your colleagues the feeling that you’re taking them seriously.

Neck: No tie but also, no hair. Neck beard is not okay.


Jasmin Neophytou is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Visit her website.



Jacket: When choosing a jacket, make sure it’s a jacket for the season. Nothing looks duller than a man wearing too warm a coat or shivering in a shirt on a cold morning. The new job requires a new jacket and we recommend the woolen blazers by Patrick Johnson – sporting, but conservative, this jacket will see you through your first week.

Shirt: Channeling Frasier Crane, we’re pairing the jacket with a polo shirt. The sporty look implies you’re working hard,  and the Carhartt “duck” polo shirt is suitably obscure to avoid any bogan connotations because, who doesn’t love ducks?

Pants: While your new workplace might be denim friendly, jeans are not okay for the first day. Instead, stride in  with a pair of deep olive Stanton straight leg chinos from Mr Simple. Chinos bridge the gap between your boss’ old-fashioned-values and your peers’ computer-geek chic.

Socks: A good pair of pants should expose just the right amount of ankle while sitting. Make sure your socks match and, even better, make sure they’re by Chup.

Shoes: Before you whip out those Grenson brogues from Copely & Watson, keep a lid on those fancy feet of yours with a pair of black suede Clarks Originals. The soft but sophisticated desert boot puts the full stop on your perfectly punctuated first impression: smart but casual.


For the lady:

While you were hired for your skills, you will undoubtedly be judged by your appearance. Keep the clothes simple so your I’m-not-a-jerk personality is all your colleagues can see. But, if you are a jerk, we recommend wearing something really distracting.

FEET: Loafers are literally the most inoffensive shoe in the world. They don’t even have fastening devices that could cause consternation. And these yellow Saville loafers from Rag & Bone channel cheery and chic in just the right balance to give an approachable but capable impression.

WRIST: Wearing a Daniel Wellington classic Bristol watch in rose gold (possibly paired with a good few bangles) means you can check the time without rudely pulling your phone from your pocket – keeping you on time and in everyone’s good graces.

LEGS: Stake your claim on some extra office floor space with the wide leg Gaucho pant from Vege Threads and B Goods, which invoke the on-trend ’70s but keep away from revivalist territory with some clever and flattering tailoring on the butt.



TOP: Wearing a white t-shirt seems simple, but it actually manages to send out the complex message that you are both easy to deal with and not to be messed with. Do yourself a favour and wear a white Wafer tee from AS Colour on your first day, or risk spending years trying to establish with your colleagues that you are neither a pushover nor a dragon lady.

OVER THE TOP: Jackets aren’t just for boys. A lightweight and well-tailored version, like the Anthony Thomas Melillo boyfriend blazer in tweed-pattern fleece, screams professionalism so you don’t have to.

HEAD: It’s stupid and unfair, but pulled back hair is interpreted as “Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” while loose hair over your face is somehow read as “Penelope Cruz in Vicki Cristina Barcelona”. One day we’ll be able to do whatever we want with our hair and not be put into made-up categories, but for now it’s best to opt for a low and loose bun and tackle the issues around codification of women’s bodies on day two or three at your new job.

Share —