Currently I work in a position where I wear jeans and polos to work everyday. Sometimes I mix it up once or twice a week and throw on the slacks. I work in the office but I do spend some time on the shop floor. Dress code has never been an issue, and has never even been hinted at by coworkers.

I previously worked on the shop floor so I definitely dress nicer than I used to but I'm wondering if I should take another step forward. I plan on having a meeting with my manager in a few months to sit down and talk about a potential promotion. Would this potentially help me look more fit for the role? Most of the office follow the business casual dress code.

Should I take the common advice of dress for the job you want and not the job you've got?

Additional info: I work in the U.S. in a manufacturing environment. I have the title of Materials Planner, but I would like to ask for Senior Materials Planner position.

  • 1
    How do you normally dress when you interact with your manager?
    – sf02
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:00
  • Normal dress for me is jeans and a polo, sometimes I'll wear slacks but it's random, no special occasion or anything.
    – Justice
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:38
  • You say you’re working in manufacturing- are you expecting to get your hands dirty as part of your job duties? Wearing a long-sleeved dress shirt might be more professional than a short-sleeved polo shirt, but the look is probably ruined if you’ve gotten oil on your sleeves.
    – nick012000
    Mar 4, 2020 at 23:32
  • Sometimes I jump on a forklift to do something but that's normally the extent of it.
    – Justice
    Mar 5, 2020 at 13:48

4 Answers 4


Most of the office follow the business casual dress code

You should follow standard practice of the workplace.

I plan on having a meeting with my manager in a few months to sit down and talk about a potential promotion

Great start, that is exactly what you should do. During meeting, which I hope will go well, you should explicitly say something like:

I have the title of Materials Planner, but I would like to be Senior Materials Planner. What should I do? What will help me to get there?

Your manager, hopefully, will have few ideas, but I doubt that dress code will be one of them.

That is because people who say "dress for the job you want" don't mean the clothing itself. Authority is earned, not given. "Dress" here means "to behave" like you are capable of being responsible for more things, for bigger things, for more people, and more complex tasks. That includes:

  1. Being on top of your current tasks
  2. Show initiative and ask for more responsibility when appropriate
  • Would dressing more professionally look better so when I have this meeting he is more likely to see me in this role. I am always ahead of what's expected. A lot of the times when my manager asks for something it's already done, or I'm in the process of doing it. I was just wondering if maybe the more professional look would give me an extra boost. Thank you for your answer, I appreciate it.
    – Justice
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:42
  • @Justice My expectation is that dressing up might get you couple of points, but won't matter within margin of error. It is also important to wearing things that comfortable Mar 4, 2020 at 19:16

Earn a promotion by making it a no-brainer for the decision maker - not by wearing a suit!

What I mean by that is you don't want the decision maker thinking "I guess X might make a good Senior Something-Or-Other". Instead they should know you are more than capable of taking on the role because they see you are already operating at that level.

How do you do that?

  • Identify what a Senior Something-Or-Other does and start looking for opportunities to do that. (Maybe this is where the conversation with your manager comes in)
  • Take on extra responsibility, volunteer for additional tasks... and deliver! Or better yet, knock it out of the park.
  • Go the extra mile - mentor juniors, help colleagues, work the extra hour to meet deadlines etc.

That's not to say dressing a little more conservatively - say a button down shirt and chinos rather than polo shirt and jeans - won't be beneficial. It looks smarter, and projects an image of competence and seniority. But, on it's own, it's unlikely to be enough to earn the promotion. Your behaviour and attitude on their own probably are.

  • 2
    "Work the extra hour" - but make sure it is properly documented and allowed, otherwise you may be breaking the law.
    – guest
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:52
  • Thank you for your answer. I do all of the above things, performance reviews are always "exceeded expectations" I've proven my worth to the company time and time again. I was just wondering if this may be a way to further prove that I am professional and would excel in this role. My performance isn't an issue, I was just wondering if my appearance may boost my overall look from a manager perspective.
    – Justice
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:52
  • It definitely won't hurt your chances but performance is the main thing. If you have that locked up (and it certainly sounds like you have) then a sharper, slightly more serious appearance can enhance how you are perceived by others,
    – amcdermott
    Mar 4, 2020 at 18:17
  • @amcdermott thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. I will definitely start phasing in the slacks to my daily attire.
    – Justice
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:22

Hugely depends on comapny culture and customer expectations (if applicable).

If there is a dresscode (even if informal) than that's a big hint that your employers company culture values being dressed properly and you should go along with it (meaning: dress for the position you want to have).


Should I take the common advice of dress for the job you want and not the job you've got?

Absolutely, look like your moving forwards and belong higher up the hierarchy.

Well groomed and well dressed is always an asset. Within common sense boundaries of course.

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