37

I've finished my interview sessions with a company (2 individual interview days), and also discussed the first draft of the contract with them. They offered me the job, and I've accepted their offer. Now, I need to go there once more to sign the last version of the contract and start working there from the beginning of the next month.

During the interview sessions, I presented myself there wearing a suit and tie! But, I noticed the company does not have any dress code as most of the employees (even senior ones) wear casual.

So, I was wondering if I can step down from the suit now and appear in normal clothing when I go there to sign my contract?

P.S.: It's an IT company in Germany!

  • 3
    What kind of work? Tech, financial, artisan, education? – RedSonja May 17 at 7:14
  • 1
    Would you be going from home, or calling in on your way to/from your current job (or on your lunchbreak)? – Chris H May 17 at 8:35
  • 1
    Will you be photographed for an ID card? Then dress as if you were going to work. It never hurts to ask if you have questions about the company's attirement environment. – Matthew Leingang May 17 at 16:54
97

Personally, I believe that overdressing is never an issue. Wearing a suit may be overkill if the position has already been offered, but perhaps khaki slacks and a button-up shirt would be ideal. No need for the full suit and tie treatment, but formal enough to continue a good impression and appear professional.

Growing up as the son of an HR Director, he always preached that first impressions are key. Perhaps you'll be meeting the CEO or a manager that you'll be working under when you go to sign the contract. In that scenario, I'd recommend a more formal attire.

  • 28
    Overdressing may get you rejected for being too "formal" when interviewing with a startup. – hkBst May 16 at 15:42
  • 29
    @hkBst: I have never (to the best of my knowledge) been rejected for overdressing, and I have had plenty of interviews where I wore a suit, even though I knew the environment was jeans & tee shirts. However, I have known of people who got rejected for going to interviews in casual clothes when something dressier was expected. – GreenMatt May 16 at 16:05
  • 19
    If you're a bit overdressed to begin with, it's easier to "undress" to meet standards than it is to "dress up" once you're already there. i.e. take off a suit coat, loosen a tie, roll up sleeves. – FreeMan May 16 at 17:58
  • 28
    Seriously, most tech companies these days have a casual dress code, overdressing risks coming off as a poor culture fit. A nice shirt and smart casual trousers will be fine, but a tie is generally just too far. – ThomasRedstone May 16 at 20:52
  • 12
    @ThomasRedstone: I work at a tech company with a casual dress-code; interviewees still show up in suit, like I did, and I've never heard any interviewer complain about the interviewee being overdressed. It may have been your experience, but it seems far from universal. – Matthieu M. May 17 at 8:56
72

If you're only going in to sign the contract, you've won the war already. Your employer won't change their mind about hiring you at the last minute just because you show up dressed like everyone else rather than in a suit. You're fine.

  • 1
    Yes, although it won't hurt to confirm this in an email beforehand, as they might conceivably have clients visiting that day. Ask informally though ("Hey, do I need to be in a suit and tie on day 1?"). – Justin May 16 at 14:48
  • 24
    @Justin Asking about dress code when you start a position is perfectly normal and I recommend it if you have doubts. We aren't talking about day 1, we're talking about going in to sign the contract; OP stated that they aren't starting until the beginning of the next month. – scatter May 16 at 14:51
  • 1
    Thanks for the correction, @Christian! I missed that point. – Justin May 16 at 16:42
  • I disagree with this answer. I always find it odd to go from full business to normal. While I agree with the part of the employer not changing their mind about the contract, you can still changed their impression of you. I'd suggest going semi-formal and slowly (think 1, maybe 2 weeks) transition to what you normally wear. – Martijn May 17 at 12:15
33

I always prefer to wear business casual at the least on the first day. Never know if there was a special reason people were wearing casual clothing on the day you interviewed. Work a day or two, maybe ask what a dress code is, and go from there. You'll never go wrong by overdressing a bit.

  • 4
    Ditto. But bring a tie, just in case. I always try to blend in with existing staff (software developers), but slightly neater. If they're in t-shirts, I'll wear a polo shirt or short sleeve button up shirt. etc. – Justin May 16 at 14:46
  • 15
    Rather than "bring a tie, just in case", I'd suggest "wear a tie, just in case". It's not difficult to take the tie off if it's overkill, and generally looks okay after "No one else has a tie, mind if I take mine off?" However, it looks a bit awkward and maybe even presumptuous to put one on after you arrive. – GreenMatt May 16 at 16:01
  • 3
    Anyone who came in wearing a tie, and then brought attention to it by asking about other people's, would get laughed right out of the office anywhere I've ever worked – George M May 17 at 21:25
17

Smart casual

Basically what you would wear if you want out to the movies with friends or whatever, but a small step above that. Namely:

  • No offensive clothing
  • No dilapidated clothing

You are not going in to work, you are going in to sign some paperwork. Consider it a part of a day off, like going to the post office, or shopping.

The vibe you are trying to give off is one of a person who is neat and tidy when they are in casual attire. You are not trying to give off the vibe of someone who dresses up to sign some paperwork.

On your first day, you should pivot more towards business casual. During the contract signing, you should feel free to ask the representative what the dress code is.

4

Assuming that this is a office type position, wear what you would wear when going to work.

If it's something else, smart casual.

2

Given your observation, though there is nothing preventing you from wearing smart casuals, signing a(ny) contract is one event where you may want to wear the formals, once again.

It's not about you or anybody else's choice of dressing - it's the event that matters here. Just like, you can wear smart casuals in a board meeting, but usually people chose to dress up in formal attire.

2

Obviously, most of us have been through something like this. My take on it is that it is fine to dress down some, but you still want to present a fresh and professional appearance. Button on shirt, khaki, navy, gray, or black slacks, etc. You don't want to stand out in any negative way.

That said, there can be exceptions. This has happened to both me and my wife: we got a call in the middle of the day asking us to come in and sign papers that day. OK (hell yes!!), but that does mean I'm going straight there in blue jeans and a hoodie.

-1

To answer from my own experience as a professional services company owner now, previously an employee for years, both in the US, and being somewhat tuned in to European fashion and work trends, I'd say: if you want to look professional, add your personal mix of tradition and contemporary flair, and still fit in somewhat with a more casual environment, then just ditch the tie. Keep the suit, and pair it with a nice shirt with a small pattern.

  • without an explanation, this answer may become useless in case if someone else posts an opposite opinion. For example, if someone posts a claim like "Just don't ditch the tie. Keep the suit, and don't pair it with a nice shirt with a small pattern.", how would this answer help reader to pick of two opposing opinions? Consider editing it into a better shape, to meet How to Answer guidelines – gnat May 19 at 15:14
  • @gnat Fair enough. Edited. – Joseph_N May 19 at 19:20
-4

Call and ask. That's the best way.

  • 31
    Calling to ask what to wear for a simple contract signing seems like a bit much and would probably be off-putting. – scatter May 16 at 14:15
  • 6
    @Christian only if they were jerks. – Tina_Sea May 16 at 14:19
  • 13
    @Tina_Sea Got nothing to do with they are jerks or not. Being a jerk involves words or actions. Them thinking you're a bit strange for being unsure what to wear to sign a piece of paper is quite normal. If I was the boss and my new employee rang to ask what to wear for a contract signing, I'd immediately think: "Working with this fellow is going to be tedious". – Gregory Currie May 16 at 15:49
  • 5
    Tina, @GregoryCurrie didn't say he would get mad. He said he would think it was a bit strange. These are not the same thing. To make the point more clearly, if you went to your manager to ask if you can go to the bathroom, he might not get mad but he sure would think it was weird. – Wildcard May 16 at 19:31
  • 5
    @Tina_Sea yeah, the USA really does not seem to be a great place for workers rights :-( – ThomasRedstone May 17 at 7:37

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