Office Dressing 101


I was inspired to write this post after watching a recent episode of Celebrity Apprentice.  It was the latter half of the show, where both teams gather in the boardroom. The male team looked polished and professional. Each of them were wearing suits and ties and were well put together.

Some of the women looked great – powerful and professional. Others looked like they should be in a night club. I realize this is reality TV, but come on ladies, don’t let it all hang out if you want to be taken seriously in business.  Please. It is distracting and looks incredibly cheap.

I have been working in the corporate world for almost 15 years and have seen some real fashion mistakes during those years. For this reason, coupled with my love for style and fashion, I feel I can comment 🙂

Below are my top ten tips for keeping it smart at the office. Most of these will apply whether you work in a corporate environment, business casual, or casual environment.

  1. Dress for the job that you want. If you want to be the CEO one day, dress like you are the CEO now. It’s as simple as that.
  2. What you wear, says a lot about you. Be aware that what you are wearing reflects on you. If you work in a corporate law firm and you wear a wrinkled shirt and old, salt-stained boots to the office, you might not be taken seriously. Polish up.  It also reflects on your company.
  3. Stay away from necklines that are just too low.  When in doubt, put something else on. We don’t really need to see lots of cleavage at work. People look. People stare.  It can get awkward. Unless you work at Hooters, keep ’em tucked away for later.
  4. Neat hair. Keep it clean and tidy and most of all, don’t sit there and twirl it.
  5. Invest in good dress pants and blazers. These will last you for years if you buy good quality.  You can accessorize with less expensive tops, belts and scarves which can be changed every season.
  6. Wear appropriate shoes. One of the most common things I’ve seen over the years is women who wear heels that they can’t walk in properly.  This is fine after a few drinks when you are stumbling around during a GNO, but NOT at the office. Don’t wear high heels to the office unless you are confident that you can walk in them properly. Wedges work well for an 8-hour day.
  7. Keep an eye on your hemlines. Follow the same rule that you did in school (or that you were supposed to follow in school).  Don’t wear anything shorter than where the tips of your fingers fall on your thigh when you are standing in a straight pose.  Anything shorter – save it for the bar.
  8. Leave the yoga pants at home.  I’ve seen women wear yoga pants with a blouse and blazer.  Don’t. Ever. Do. This. Depending on your office environment, you may be able to get away with leggings, especially if they are made of a thick material (try ponte knit) and you have a top on that absolutely 100% covers your butt.  Lululemons, however, should be left for your yoga class, even if you work in a casual or creative environment. End of story.
  9. Lose the junky shoes. Polish them. Or throw them out and buy new ones.
  10. Chipped nail polish.  Ok, I am totally guilty of this one, but I feel that because I’m a mom, I have a wee excuse. Yes, I’m playing that card. Keep these handy dandy polish remover wipes in your desk drawer for when you need to meet someone unexpectedly and didn’t have time to remove your chippy polish the night before. Alternatively, try a shellac manicure, or even better, Jamberry nail wraps.  They last for 10 days on my nails. No chipping and always shiny.

That’s it, that’s all.  It isn’t hard to add a little polish to your look!

Written by: Kelly Potter Scott, PR Professional, Style Contributor

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