Work It: 9 to 5 Style

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Work attire is a tricky subject. While there are a few general rules of thumb for office dressing, it really depends on where you work. Different environments call for different ensembles. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll decode what’s appropriate for a variety of workplace settings in a new blog series called, Dress Coding. For now, I’ll provide you with some general tips on dressing for work.

If you’re new to the working world, I should warn you: Beware of the fashion police otherwise known as “Human Resources” and your fellow co-workers. Committing an at-work fashion faux pas is a legitimate offense. Just because you didn’t get the pink slip for your crime (crime = teal tube top) doesn’t mean you’re getting away with it (it = teal tub top)… Wearing the wrong threads has the potential to distort your image as a valued employee and may even prevent you from getting ahead. If Wendy Worker sports tight skirts, sheer blouses and routinely puts her “girls” on display at work, her co-workers may have a difficult time taking her (and her wacko wardrobe) seriously. Therefore, as with all occasions, dress for success–and mean it, especially when you’re on the clock!

Even though all work environments have different rules as to what is and isn’t okay to wear, the following commandments cover most of the general dos and don’ts of dressing for work:

  • Thou shalt never let your outfit outshine your work. (Yes, creatives and fashionistas, this applies to you as well!)
  • Thou shalt abstain from clothing with obnoxious logos. (Besides Bebe logo tops being so 1999, no one wants a walking billboard in their office.)
  • You shall avoid all sexy and revealing clothing. Never show more than 1 inch of cleavage or wear a skirt that skims your bum. For most offices, skirts that hit more than 3 or 4 inches above the knee are considered inappropriate (If you want to wear shorter skirts, or even dress shorts, pair them with opaque tights to temper the higher hemline). Also, no tank tops unless you have something layered over it to cover your shoulders.
  • Thou shalt not wear any ripped, torn, or sloppy clothing. This includes anything that can be worn to the gym or the beach (gym shoes and flip-flops etc.).
  • Thou shalt dress like my female boss. If you do not have a female boss, emulate the highest-ranking female in your company. This doesn’t mean steal her style. Rather, base your office attire on what she considers appropriate. Is she casual? Always dresses to the nines? Take a cue from the people in positions you aspire to have someday. They don’t say, “dress the part” for no reason.
  • You shall always dress to impress–even on “casual Fridays.”Â� Don’t let casual Fridays fool you. Jeans may be okay, but that old tee reserved for lazy Sundays and those hot pink flip-flops are just not going to cut it… Casual Friday attire should be based on your weekly work wear, but taken down a few notches.
  • Thou shalt not don underwear as outerwear. Ever. This is pretty self-explanatory…
  • You shall always use your best judgment. Consider your work environment and dress accordingly. Anything you can wear to a club should never step foot in an office. If you’re unsure about an outfit, it’s best to err on the side of caution and go with something else.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Stay tuned for my upcoming Dress Coding blogs where I’ll crack those mysterious office dress codes. First up, business formal work attire!

If you’re a working girl, what’s your work environment like and what’s your go-to office outfit?

XO Lauren

P.S. These rules apply to interns too!

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