Work: What to Wear?

by Natalie Heather

I’ve been thinking all about work wear, recently. I am the youngest (by about 30 years) where I work, and I’m always uncertain about the protocol for shoes. Or, really, heels. I would love to wear heels for work, but I don’t want to look like I am trying to hard. Irrational worry? Entirely possible. The appropriateness of work wear for the office I work at is pretty liberal, so I don’t really worry about the clothing.

So I’ve been doing some searching about what’s appropriate for work, and I found a pretty good article on About: Women’s Fashion: What to Wear to Work.

“Your goal to getting dressed for work is to project a professional, competent image, regardless of your employment level or career path.

  • Color plays a big part in professional image. Traditional career colors include red (aggressive), navy (trustworthy), gray (conservative) and black (chic). Most of these colors work well in pantsuits, skirts and shoes and mix back with softer feminine colors that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory. Loud colors like hot pink and wild prints are much riskier in the office, but some creative types can still pull them off.
  • Jewelry that jangles (chandelier earrings, stacks of bangles) is distracting. Opt for stud earrings or single bracelets.
  • Slouchy handbags look sloppy. Choose structured styles that project an organized image.
  • Most of what constitutes a polished image is in the details: manicured nails, run-free hose, scuff-free shoes, neat hair.
  • Fit is everything when you are talking about tailored work clothes. Pants should be fitted, but free of visible panty lines. Skirts, especially straight styles like pencil skirts, should be loose enough to sit down in comfortably. Jackets should be able to be buttoned. And blouses shouldn’t gap between buttonholes.
  • Designer labels are great, but heavily logoed clothing and accessories look cluttered and frivolous in the work place. A small designer bag is fine; a logo trench coat looks ridiculous. Choose well-made items that are free from obvious designer labels for the most professional look.

Looks to avoid in the workplace:

  • 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-fit clothing.”

What do you think? I picked up on the fact that they didn’t cover the length of skirts or dresses, what sort of shoes are appropriate, or how much (if any) cleavage is acceptable. So I searched around and found this on Health, Beauty and Fitness:

“Keep your hemline conservative, about one to two inches above the knee. This length is not only more attractive but a length that suits most women.”

And in terms of cleavage, I think it should be kept to an absolute minimal.

Working in an office really changed my style, and definitely help me mature (in terms of personality and style). I shop less at Forever XXI and more at Zara. I started wearing longer skirts and dress and things that covered more, and I really felt a lot better about myself. I sometimes wonder how I even wore some of my clothing! Don’t get me wrong now, I wasn’t running around in barely-there dresses! I most certainly dress more conservatively now, and there’s no going back!

I’ve been doing some looking around and found this site that’s really great business appropriate fashion ideas! Ever heard of it? It’s called Work Chic. You can choose whether you need Business, Business Casual, or Casual, and they will give you ideas for each category, including what you can accessorize with!

My favorite category is definitely business casual. It’s still professional, but with that extra little bit of style allowed. What’s yours?