This is incredibly tricky, especially for you shy young people. You want to keep your tentative feelings under wraps and project confidence while simultaneously drawing no fire from the management squad. Like so many things, it will get better with practice.
So how can you know if you have the outfit right enough?
You could take a poll on your way to work or just show up in a meat apron and see what happens, but I think the best strategy is to plan ahead. Write out the guidelines and stick a note on your mirror or closet door. Perhaps, add another note to yourself, like, “Is this good for my image?” or “Am I too sexy for my shirt? So sexy it hurts?”
The classic criteria are to be safe, clean and covered and also to show that you care enough to remove all that cat hair. So much cat hair.
If you are really worried about it, have a chat with your supervisor and let her know that you’re uncertain and ask if she would let you know if you are stepping on the code.
Be aware, though, that dress codes can be pretty fluid and open to interpretation. Sometimes there will be “crack downs” that are part of a larger scheme to throw everyone off balance, particularly with new managers who really are not sure in which direction they need to flex.
Pay attention to what others are wearing (or getting written up for wearing). As much of a rebel as I am, I will be forever scarred from that one time I was the only kid in the choir with crazy pants. Unless you’re prepared for the consequences, don’t be that kid in crazy pants.
No matter how careful you are, one day, a woman named Pamela may be waiting for you with a flip-flop memo. That’s just something to keep in your corporate paranoia pack.
Uniforms are awful, but they do make this part easier. You might consider building yourself a Work Uniform so that you don’t have to think about it. I did this for years. I would pick my suit or dress color based on what the weather gal was wearing on television that morning.
One more point: do your best not to smell funny. No matter how perrrrfectly put together you may be, you do not want to be The Guy Whose Cologne Announces Him.