It’s Tuesday (which means it’s not Casual Friday; This is important information for the next few sentences). I’m wearing fitted black slacks with a red sweater and heels. Sounds boring, I know, but it’s cold and this outfit is comfortable yet still professional. My colleague, on the other hand, is sporting a nice pair of gray yoga pants, a zip-up hoodie, and sneakers. On the elevator someone was wearing leopard print leggings. But my favorite was the Joe’s Crab Shack t-shirt. Clearly the dress code in my building goes from high level business attire to household chore clothing.
This is not the way that any professional should be dressing. Instead, you should be presenting yourself in a clean and well groomed manner that shows you care about yourself and your job. So, here are some dos and don’ts for what to wear in the (typical) workplace.
- Do dress to impress. Most offices are business casual meaning a nice pair of slacks, a sweater, or a blazer will do. Gauge your office on what most people wear, but you can never go wrong with dressing slightly more formal than you think you need to.
- Don’t wear yoga pants/velour jump suits/etc. I don’t care if it’s Casual Friday, Hump Day, or whatever. Gym attire, lounge around clothing, and similar items should never be worn to the office. They’re not appropriate and make you look lazy and unprofessional.
- Do wear nice jeans, preferably dark, on casual Friday. If your office has instituted Casual Friday (which is the best day ever!), it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a nice pair of jeans. Just make sure they are clean with no holes or tears (so the super cute A&F ripped boyfriend jeans probably aren’t appropriate even though I have totally broken my own rule before). If possible, dark denim usually looks the most professional.
- Don’t wear anything with rips or holes in it (this includes fashionable jeans like stated above). I know it’s the style, but it’s not work appropriate to wear things with rips or holes. Save it for the weekend.
- Do be aware of your office’s dress code. Every office has a different dress code so be aware of what yours says. For example, while we have Casual Friday, we are still supposed to dress in business casual clothing if we have a meeting that day. Be familiar with your company’s so you always are on the right end of office fashions.
- Don’t make any crazy changes to your person (i.e. your hair, body art, etc.) without checking your dress code. While I get this might not be fair and I’m a fan of cool hair and tattoos, you don’t want this to affect your job. Some places take this type of thing very seriously and it could be grounds for removing you from your position (or at least writing you up). Just be mindful before you decide to dye your hair a pretty pink color or tattoo your neck.
- Do own one or two nice suits for very important meetings. Every closet should have at least one or two well-fitted suits for you to wear. This could be for meetings or interviews, but they’re a work wardrobe must!
- Don’t think that what is considered fashionable is also appropriate for the office. Street and weekend fashion is much different than office fashion. That cute open back shirt may look great for a fun night out, but it’s not always appropriate for meetings. Be wary of stores like Forever 21, WetSeal, etc. where weekend fashion tries to merge with the office. If you’re even thinking it might not be appropriate, then don’t wear it.
- Do make sure you own a few staple items like black, navy blue, and brown pants, cardigans, and button down shirts. Your closet should be stocked with business staple items like work pants, different color cardigans, and a few nice blouses. This way you always have easy access to a few cute options.
- Don’t use your clothing to make a serious personal statement (unless you work in the fashion or other open minded industry). Your office is not the time or place to show everyone that you have a cool, eclectic fashion style. While I’m all about adding personal flair (see below), most offices won’t appreciate a wild look. Again, gauge your workplace and see what you can and can’t do when showcasing your personal style.
- Do add in your own personal flair (but don’t go overboard). Like I said, you should still always make your office style your own. This could mean accessorizing with great shoes, a cool handbag, or a nice necklace. Bold shirts paired with neutral colors are also a great way to highlight your fashionista style. Just don’t go crazy. You don’t want to turn a classy and interesting style into a nightmare fashion faux pas that could cause you issues at work.
Now, it’s your turn! What other dos and don’ts do you have for office fashion?