How To Wear Your ID Badge At Work To Boost Your Style
> Minimize and simplify lanyards to allow your outfit to be the focus
It’s an unavoidable part of our outfit for five days a week.
It’s draped around our neck, clipped to our shirt or hung from our belt.
The company ID badge is what identifies us to others at work, allows us to gain entry into our company office and in many cases, controls our access within company facilities.
It’s the one thing that really spoils an otherwise great outfit for the day.
And until things like real-time biometric verification become a reality, we’ll be required to carry these ID cards around with us anytime we’re at work.
So, how can we make do with this?
What options do we have that can make wearing a company ID badge less unappealing and more in-tune with our wardrobe?
Is this really even possible?
It’s a tough challenge for even the best fashionistas out there.
However, there are a rare few folks that can pull off the impossible and make it work for them. These folks just seem to have it nailed every time.
They’re far from sloppy and yet, not overly done up either. They seem to strike that perfect balance of being well-dressed but not over-dressed.
They pay attention to small things in their outfits. It could be the colorful dress socks that peek out every once in a while. Or, the simple pendant necklace. Or, how they subtly wear perfume and cologne.
They just have it all together and you can too. At least in terms of how you wear your company ID badge.
We’ve compiled a few ideas here where wearing a company ID won’t infringe too much on your work outfit. In fact, it may be able to boost it a bit.
We’re not making any promises of making it runway-worthy. But maybe, just maybe, we can make it a bit better.
Better Ways To Wear Your Company ID Badge
We’d guess that 99.9% of us working in offices that have to wear photo company IDs don’t think much about how we wear our IDs at work.
It’s just another automated daily work routine that we don’t even have to really think about. It’s second nature.
Heading out the door, spiffed up for the day, work bag in tote, you do a quick run-down check.
Badge? Got it.
You put all your stuff in your pockets and bag and scramble out the door while putting on your last work outfit accessory - the badge.
It’s such an eyesore really and nothing else screams company slave than having to publicly wear your company photo ID out the door.
But, it doesn’t have to be this bad, here are a few things that we’ve done to make things a bit better (relatively speaking, of course).
And, it doesn’t require much effort on your part.
Some of these options are freebies that you just need to ask HR for, crafty embellishments that you can do at home (or at work) or super-cheap purchases at your local hardware store or online.
1) Make The Lanyard Invisible
Most ID lanyards are cheap and flimsy. And often, they’re all logo’ed up with stuff either with your company name, products or someone else’s.
When you have a lanyard like this, it creates a visual distraction in your outfit. It draws unnecessary attention and breaks up your look.
One solution is to make the lanyard disappear or become virtually invisible in your overall look. The way to do this is to use a thin but strong metal chain - kinda like the tiny ball chains that secure pens to the counters at banks.
When done correctly, this kind of ball chain lanyard essentially disappears and allows your outfit to take the center stage.
It’s like Taraji Henson’s character in the NASA movie Hidden Figures.
You can barely make out the metal chain lanyard in her outfit - it’s virtually invisible.
You can buy these kinds of chains at hardware stores and craft hobby shops. Just ask for the ball type chains that are used to secure pens to counters. Or a simple thin chain along those same lines.
If you really want to make it invisible, you can use heavy duty fishing line - that will really make it hard to see.
In either of these cases, you’ll have to be a bit crafty to make the connections all work together to hold your ID.
2) Turn The Lanyard Into A Necklace Accessory
For the ladies...this option is the exact opposite approach to the first idea.
Whereas the thin ball chain is meant to vanish or blend in with your outfit, this option is meant to add more flair and when done correctly, can complement or even boost your overall look.
Imagine a really long necklace and that’s essentially what we’re talking about here.
The difference here is that these long “lanyard necklaces” have swiveling clasps or latches so that you can easily attach your ID badge to it.
You can find these online at the usual spots like Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Or, if you’re a real crafty type, visit your local Michaels or neighborhood hobby store and they’ll have a wide assortment of chains and clasps so you can make your own.
Whichever option you choose, be sure that the lanyard necklace is neutral in style, color and tone so that you can wear it with every outfit.
3) Rock The Badge Like An FBI Special Agent
For the gents...here’s a similar take, only this option plays up the bolder masculine style of law enforcement.
Who hasn’t seen an episode of Law & Order SVU and not thought that rocking an ID badge like any of those guys wouldn’t be cool? Or any FBI movie?
The key parts you’ll need to pull this off is a black leather ID holder like the one shown above plus, a thicker ball chain style necklace.
Drape this around your neck and you can just feel the authority building. This is your job and you take it seriously…”Why didn’t you make a new pot of coffee after you took the last cup?” All the coffee criminals are going to be shaking in their shoes.
These kind of badge holders are a bit harder to find as ready-to-buy items. So, you may need to be creative and make your own.
Leather ID holders can be found pretty much at any major clothing retailer and ball chains can be found at most hardware and hobby stores. Hunt for the right pieces and you’ll have a really cool set-up.
4) Simple-N-Easy Black Lanyards Goes With Everything
For those that just want something simple and easy, this is it.
If you have the chance, take a look at the pile of lanyards in the security office or HR department. Can you find a black one? Ideally, one that isn’t logo’ed with the company name. Just simple black.
This is our #1 preferred color. Black goes with everything, doesn’t clash with anything and more importantly, doesn’t draw attention away from the best part of your outfit - you!
Oh and please, if you’re using a logo’ed lanyard from the conference you attended a years ago, ditch that.
We’re not gonna name names here, but there’s one egotistical asshole in our office that wears his 2008 (yes, over ten years ago) TedTalk lanyard like Mr. T wears his gold chains - loud and proud.
It goes perfectly with his embroidered faux leather LV notebook cover.
What a tool.
Black lanyards are easy and simple - you don’t have to think about it.
However, if you’re looking to add a splash of color...
5) Use A Single Color Lanyard To Accent Your Outfit
There are a few of the rare folks in the office that are just so happy-go-lucky in their demeanor. And, their personality is often reflected in their outfits.
There isn’t a single drab color in their entire wardrobe. For these folks, every single day is an opportunity to express their colorful personality - quite literally.
You know the type. They’re the living version of Rainbow Brite. They’d blend in perfectly in any of Dr. Suess’s fictional worlds.
They use the lanyard as another opportunity to add even more color splash to their outfit.
Now, we’re not saying that you should go off the deep end with your outfit colors, but having a few colors of lanyards can be an easy way to add a little pop to your look. It can either match or blend in or provide a bit of contrast.
This strategy really works well if your company has a casual dress code rather than business formal or business casual.
If this is the case, keep a few primary color lanyards tucked in your desk drawer and when you want to add a bit of flavor, swap out your existing color with another one.
We recommend single color variations not a rainbow of colors on one lanyard.
This is a small fun way to easily mix things up at the office.
6) Add A Little Pop To That Badge Reel
Another boring drab item that you can spice up is the self-retracting badge reel or spool that some ID cards come with.
These mini reels allow you to extend your ID badge about 3-4 feet so that you can scan your badge on door sensors to unlock access for entry, to check-in and check-out of areas and for clocking in and out for the day.
They are the perfect little spots to add a little something special or cool to your outfit.
You can get crafty and make your own with some super glue and fun bits laying around your house or just buy one online.
Check out these cool ones we found on Pinterest:
7) Get Nerdy With A Shirt Pocket Protector & ID Holder
Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, wearing a white short-sleeved dress shirt with a tie was a normal de facto standard for men. It was damn near mandatory if the guy worked in any engineering trade.
Today, if you ever saw a guy with this kind of outfit, you’d assume he was the copier repair guy or Geek Squad tech support.
Part of this outfit included plastic pocket protectors that fit inside shirt pockets and served as a place to clip pens. They were designed so that if the pen ever leaked, it would prevent the ink from bleeding onto the shirt - thus, the name, “Pocket Protector” was born.
You can take inspiration from Kevin Costner playing the NASA head honcho in the movie Hidden Figures. Keep the overall look clean and you can rock this look like an engineering boss.
There are plastic badge holders that are bi-fold types much like a men’s wallet. You can insert your portrait format badge into one side of the holder and then, slide the other into your shirt pocket.
The best kinds of these bi-fold badge holders use small magnets, one on each end of the holder. When it’s placed into the shirt pocket, the magnets clip together on the shirt pocket, keeping it in place.
If you really want to go all out, hunt for the ones that also double as pocket protectors. You’ll be sporting the 60’s NASA look perfectly.
8) Be A Modern Minimalist With Magnetic Clips
For a minimalist approach, you can just use simple magnets with the ID.
If you’ve ever worked in retail in the last ten years, you probably wore a magnetic name tag. This was such a eureka solution to the old school pin type of name tags, which wrecked your shirts.
You can use this same concept with your ID badge.
It’s like wearing magnetic earrings or a magnetic tie clip. The magnets keep things in place. And today’s ultra-strong magnets come in very small sizes.
Just buy a pair of small magnets from your local hardware store, Walmart, Target, etc. Glue one magnet to your clear badge holder (not directly on the badge itself) and use the other free magnet as the interior magnet.
Or, you can buy name tag magnets like the one pictured above with peel-off adhesive anywhere online.
This solution works well for shirts that don’t have pockets. It makes the badge seem like it’s magically attached. It’s like a floating shelf.
If your company uses your ID badge for opening/unlocking doors, this idea won’t work for you because it’ll be a pain to remove and reapply the badge each time. Use one of the other options instead along with a self-retracting badge reel.
9) Make The ID Holder An Accessory
At the opposite end of being a minimalist, you can also opt to make your badge holder an accessory unto itself.
Ditch the cheapo clear plastic holder and buy yourself a snazzier more stylish one.
There are tons of options out there that you can find. A search on Etsy, eBay, Amazon and others will reveal more choices than you can imagine.
There are versions for both portrait and landscape format IDs. It might take you a while to find that right one, but when you do, it’s like striking gold.
ID holders like these make wearing your company badge something to actually look forward to.
10) Shoot From The Hip With Some Style
Another very popular option is wearing your ID badge on your hip. We see this more often on guys than gals because of the belt factor.
What we really like about this look is that it isn’t as “in your face” like a lanyard is. The location and position make a hip clipped ID more subtle and out of the way, yet still complying with any mandatory “must be worn” company requirements.
However, there is one big detraction with this option.
It can mangle your belt and/or pants.
We’re all creatures of habit. And we tend to clip the ID badge to the same spot on our hip - either on the fabric of our pants or the belt. Doing this on a daily basis just chews up the fabric or belt on the same spot, eventually ruining the item.
Here’s the solution: buy a nice leather belt loop key holder.
You can pick these up in any hardware store that duplicates keys or even the big-box retailers. Then, instead of clipping your badge directly to your pants or belt, use the key ring on the leather belt loop to attach your ID. Then, attach the loop to your belt.
If you’re not a leather fan, there’s a wide variety of other materials like canvas, rubber, plastic, etc.
And just like lanyards, you have the option to go with a neutral color to accommodate all outfits or buy a few different colors and styles to add some color accents to your look.
Other Points To Consider
Beyond the style and format variations we described above, there are a few universal things that you need to keep in mind when wearing your company ID.
Follow these tips to make things a bit better.
1) Use A Self-Retracting Badge Reel
If your badge is used for access control at your company, it’s imperative that you ask your facilities, security or HR for a self-retracting mini wire spool.
Ask for two because these things last about as long as a pot of fresh coffee on Monday mornings.
These reels will allow you to extend your badge from wherever it is on your body to the sensor mounted on the wall or elsewhere.
If you don’t have one of these, you end up having to take off your badge to scan it on the sensor and put it back on again.
That’d be a royal pain in the ass if you’ve gotta move about the office throughout the day.
2) Go Naked If You Can
As in without the clear protective pocket. Today’s company ID badges are pretty stout. They’re designed and engineered to take abuse pretty well.
If you can, go without the extra clear pocket and rock it naked. It’s like taking a more minimalist approach to wearing the badge.
If you’re the type that doesn’t use a smartphone case, this is right up your alley.
If you intend to buy a stylish holder, then you won’t need the clear holder - throw it out or give it back to HR.
3) Take It Off When You Clock Off
Sometimes we get so caught up with our day that we totally forget to take off our company badge. Hey, it happens to all of us at some point.
It’s not until the checkout girl at the counter asks how our day was by using our first name that we realize that we’re still wearing our ID outside of work.
“Hey, how do you know my name?”
She points to your badge.
When your day has ended, it’s time to take off the badge. In fact, use the process of taking off the company ID as a daily ritual to disconnect from work.
4) Update That Day 1 Photo
There’s a lot of you out there that have been with the company for a long time. That photo on day one of your employment is like your driver’s license photo - way outdated.
Now, we’re not saying that you need to update your photo every year - that’ll just be annoying for your HR or security/facilities folks and a bit weird.
However, if you’re coming up on your 5 or 10 year anniversary, it’d be a good way to mark a fresh start to the milestone.
Wear Your Company ID With Pride
With rare exceptions, most of us have to wear our company ID badge whenever we’re at work. And, it has to be visible when worn.
Instead of taking the position of disdain and adding more negativity to your already tough day ahead, reframe your perspective and turn it into something fun and/or playful.
It’s not going to make your work day a glorious stress-free session. No way. You’re much better off following these stress relief strategies instead.
But, it can bring a teensie-weensie smile or a bit of happiness at work for you. And with all the bullshit we have to deal with at work, any little extra bit of positive vibes are welcome.
So, see if you can make your badge a bit more outfit friendly and something that can stir up a bit of joy into your day.
You never know...you just might become that one guy or gal that just “has it together” with their work outfits, all the way down to their badge.