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What to Wear and What not to Wear to the Office

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

Many women struggle daily with the decision of what to wear. With the summer heat practically melting everyone in the country, some of you might be tempted to take that "business casual" idea a little too far. Grant it, there may be environments where you believe - maybe were even told that it is a casual environment, but as someone who has witnessed many fashion disasters in the workplace I'd like to offer a little advice. Even if you are lucky enough to work in a "casual" environment, there are still rules as to what is appropriate for the work place.

Let's start from the bottom. I live in Southern California in a beach town where flip-flops are a staple in everyone's wardrobe. Wearing flip-flops to work is definitely a no-no. They should never be worn to an office. Open toes...yes-even peep toed shoes are also a no-no in the office. Many women try to circumvent this rule. Some of you just ignore it all together. Some of you might disagree, and some of you have your toes on display as you are reading this. Toes on display at work are inappropriate, even if you have the most beautiful of feet..

Another foot issue is extremely high-heeled platforms or stiletto shoes. They are also inappropriate. Although they are the trend, these shoes scream nightlife not office chic. Reasonable (3') pumps are much better and sleeker. Look ready for business, not a seat.

Since many of us have veered away from the "business suit" altogether we must be conscious of the slacks that we wear. Jeans are perfectly appropriate for some environments. Extremely tight jeans or trousers, or ripped, worn trousers on the other hand stretch the boundaries of appropriateness. My suggestion, stay away from those. A nice tailored looser fit slack or jeans fairs much better.

Tops and dresses that show lots of cleavage should never be worn to the office. Spaghetti strapped tops and sundresses may not seem appropriate, but if worn properly, they can be that perfect little piece to help an outfit go from office to date. Wearing a nice tailored jacket over either will have you looking polished. If wearing either of these the cleavage rule definitely applies. You don't want to look like you aren't wearing a top under your jacket.

On the opposite end of the tops spectrum, wearing oversized, baggy tops are just as equally inappropriate. One should never wear something like custom hoodies to the office. Being an individual is one thing, but being appropriate is the right thing.

Let's talk about earrings. I have seen it too many time to mention; long, big, dangly earrings. Whether you are the receptionist and on the phone all day or the mail room clerk and only call out 2 times a day, earrings can be a distraction. If they are noticeable before you are then they probably should be worn in a different environment. Some shine, glitter, and chime when they enter a room. If they are to pronounced they seem to become much more than that. For safety reasons as well as aesthetics big overly noticeable earrings are best left at home while you're working. Smaller stud earrings and hoops even create a more business-like look.

There are rules that can be stretched and bent a little when it comes to office attire, but some as the ones mentioned here are ones that if broken can be quite blatant. And my tip of the day - focus on the "office" in office casual and you'll do fine.

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