What’s that, you ask? Didn’t know you were even wearing a uniform? Well, think again, because like it or not, what you wear to every assignment is viewed as a standard industry uniform by anyone who hires you, and you will undoubtedly be judged initially by your clothing and attire; most times within those first 60 seconds of meeting the client. And for me, one of the perks of doing independent or short term work is that you don’t have to invest a fortune in a large wardrobe because you will rarely be seen twice by the same client! That said, male or female, there are certain wardrobe standards that need to be adhered to when accepting a temp assignment; and for the most part these are customary across the job board no matter who the client is or where you’re working. So unless you’re instructed otherwise, having the following basics in your closet will assure that you look professionally accepted no matter where the day’s assignment takes you:
1) A standard, basic suit (Guys, you pretty much know what this means; ladies sometimes need gentle reminders, so please read on.) A basic suit is a matching jacket and pants/skirt in any dark color – black, brown and/or navy blue. These are the standard acceptable colors always preferred by most clients and hey, if you don’t like the idea of buying one just for these temp jobs, think of it as a career investment.
2) Closed toed shoes with sensible heels. (Yes ladies, we’re talking to you exclusively now since, gratefully, guys don’t show up to work in sandals or flip flops so why women do this, who knows?) NOTE: this is an area that is constantly being questioned or challenged by some, and the fashion police have always made it very clear that sandals are NOT the professional look that goes with a suit. So, the other honest answer as to why ‘closed toed’ shoes should be worn – aside from the common sense safety and professional look issues – is a simple one: most people’s toes are, shall we say, not too pretty to look at? Especially when ten toes are painted in ten different neon colors (cute maybe, but quite distractive and certainly not very business-like), or possibly you have a prominent bunion that sticks out (yikes!), or maybe even (gulp) you haven’t had a pedicure in months and well, this is obvious to anyone looking at your feet? So why run the risk of having the client question your ability to perform the job they’ve hired you to do because your feet are ‘inappropriately dressed?’ Also, very high heels, no matter your age, just look inappropriate on the job. So the moral of the request for wearing standard close toed shoes is to stop fighting the system and invest in a good pair of classic loafers or comfortable, basic heels/pumps in any dark color and then wear them. Period.
3) Basic shirts/blouses/tops to go with your suit in neutral colors like white, beige or other plain, pale shades. Again, guys have an edge on us in this area because they don’t generally want to ‘gussy up’ their standard wardrobe. So yes ladies, we know it’s a yawn to dress like this, but when your choice is between that spiffy looking low cut floral top with shiny sequins and a boring white shirt, please make the boring choice. You’d certainly rather that the client focus on your brains and capabilities than your inappropriate wardrobe, right?
Beyond those stock pieces, the only other standard additions to your wardrobe might be a pair of khaki trousers (or skirt) and a plain collared, knit shirt for times when the client is hiring you for some more casual work projects where a suit is not necessary.
And yes, we realize this is all quite boring stuff to have in your otherwise exciting and colorful wardrobe, right? But remember, you only have 60 seconds to make a good impression, and this saying has never been more true than when you are working a temp job! Many times you report in and start work immediately, so make the most of those first impressions and let them know you mean business from the minute you step your ‘closed-toed’ shoe into the client’s on-site arena. This will make it a win-win-win situation for you, GCG, and the client who is paying your fee.