Administrative Assistants: What to Wear to Work

Administrative assistants spend a great deal of time preparing for their careers and honing their skills, yet they often overlook the importance of dressing appropriately for work. How you look isn’t something that should take a backseat to your other professional responsibilities. In fact, your appearance and the way you dress have a big impact on the way people view your abilities.

Perhaps it would be nice if workers were judged strictly by merit and not on attractiveness, but study after study has shown that people can’t help but form impressions about others based on their appearance. And those who dress nice, look professional, and keep themselves neat and tidy often make more money and are more likely to receive leadership positions.

So, what is the best way to dress if you’re an administrative assistant? Here are some suggestions for both men and women.

Note: These suggestions are for regular office workers and not for those with medical administrative assistant jobs.


Male administrative assistants usually have little problem knowing what to wear to work since in most business offices dress pants, dress shoes, button shirts, and ties are generally standard attire. However, it’s important to make sure all your clothes are impeccably clean and ironed. Never look as though you took your clothes from the hamper, and don’t wear shoes that are old-looking or dirty.

Try to mix-up your outfits a bit so it doesn’t seem as if you are wearing the exact same thing every day (people might start to think that you are), and if your boss is wearing a suit coat then you may want to consider doing the same. Remember, you should always dress for the job you want to have.



It’s important for women to realize that what they see on TV isn’t necessarily reflective of how professional women should really dress. Career-driven TV women are often seen wearing stilettos, tight blouses, and short skirts, and although these things are nice to look at on television, they are not acceptable in most real-life offices.

Unless you’re working in high-fashion or design, your boss will most likely expect you to dress more conservatively. This means pant suits, knee-length (or close to knee) skirts, cardigans, tailored blouses, slacks, and pumps or dress flats. On casual days you can opt for Capri pants and informal tops; however, unless your office is very laidback, casual doesn’t stand for jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s also important to keep your hair, nails, and makeup neat and in place. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for expensive manicures or designer haircuts, but you should appear neat and well-groomed – every day.

That said, before choosing a work wardrobe, make sure your business does not have a specific dress code (some bosses are very strict about this). The dress code information usually isn’t listed in the administrative assistant job description, but is most often found in the company handbook which you should receive after you are hired.

For most people, knowing how to dress for work is common sense. However, many people allow their own standards to slide when they see co-workers progressively dressing more casually. In these instances, it’s important to hold your ground and continue to wear traditional work-wear as it will help you stand out as a professional among your colleagues.

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