What to Wear at the Office
Good advice on what to wear and what not to wear at the office from a business professional.
Formal Business Attire
- For women this means suits (matching trousers and a jacket).
- Closed-toe shoes (no sandals), shirts and well-tied or maintained hair, jewellery (minimum) and makeup are expected.
- Avoid jewellery that jangles (chandelier, earrings, stacks of bangles), as this is distracting. Instead, wear stud earrings or single bracelets.
- Avoid handbags that look sloppy. Choose structured styles that project an organised image.
- Maintain manicured nails/clear polish, avoid brighter colours, neat hair etc.
- Trousers should be fitted and free of visible panty lines.
- Skirts (pencil skirts), should be loose enough to sit down in comfortably.
- Jackets and shirts should be able to be buttoned easily.
- Colour - Keep it traditional. Colour plays a big part in a professional image. Traditional career colours include red (aggressive), navy (trustworthy), gray (conservative) and black (chic). Most of these colours work well in trouser suits, skirts and shoes and mix back with softer feminine colours that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory. Avoid loud colours like hot pink and wild prints, which are much riskier in the office.
Do Not Wear
In case you work in an office where others do not have very good judgment about work-appropriate clothes, do not imitate them. Simply stick to wearing clothing that’s suitable for an office. No matter what, never show up for work in any of these:
- Too sexy: see-through lace, miniskirts, spaghetti straps, sheer sundresses, strappy stiletto sandals.
- Too casual: Jeans, shorts, T-shirts, hats, sneakers.
- Too sloppy: wrinkled clothing, too many layers, baggy-fitting clothing.
Keep focused on the job at hand. You want to be known for your great work, not for your body. So no matter whether you are working in a very casual or very formal office, go to work covered. Below-the-knee skirts, no visible cleavage, covered arms, tights, and even covered toes are appropriate for ultra-conservative offices.
A suit or a dress with a jacket is a good choice to wear in formal office. If the atmosphere is more casual, coordinated outfits work well. Short sleeves are okay in a casual work setting. For the casual office, you can skip the tights and wear sandals in warm weather.
In casual offices, T-shirts and jeans may be acceptable. Just remember to reflect the office culture. If the boss is wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon on it and nobody thinks it is out of place, it is okay for you to do the same.
The same goes for wearing jeans. Do not wear ripped or slashed jeans though, even if others do. And go for the dark denim, rather than the lighter or washed denim. As a bonus, dark denim gives you a leaner appearance.
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