Just pair them with trouser jeans or skinny jeans, and some color — like maybe a hot pink pair of heels, or some patterned blouse, something fun. This includes pants that are showing the lines of your underwear, and baggy oversized shirts. Keep your accessories to a minimum. Pictured, clockwise from top left:
I grapple with this. Plus I like the way it looks! Skirts of all kinds including pencil and jersey knit knee and ankle length; patterned and solids. I also had a number of knee length shorts in wilder patterns and a couple Capri length pants in bright solids purple, teal. My office when from business formal to casual overnight.
What has worked really well for me is to pair suit skirts with button down shirts and cardigans. In the winter, I swap out suit pants for the pencil skirt. Moving away from suits has forced me to buy more accessories: I think you can still wear your conservative blazers.
Just pair them with trouser jeans or skinny jeans, and some color — like maybe a hot pink pair of heels, or some patterned blouse, something fun.
Like Kat, I spend time on Pinterest. Maybe if it is a knit fabric that happens to have a hood on it.. But you can liven up your conservative attire with fun accessories, like colored scarves, or necklace, even less conservative hairstyles, etc. Dresses are my new bestie. I pair them with my jean jacket, a cardigan, or a colorful blazer. They are so versatile. And if I feel like I need a little more structure, I add a belt.
It makes me feel shapely but still put-together. It forces me to find other neutrals to wear, as well as more colorful items.
It makes shopping more fun, too. An alternative to denim is knits. Pair a structured piece with knits, like a jacket with a knit dress, to casual it up. I could not agree more. I am a senior attorney at a major Silicon Valley tech company and I am so sick and tired of the pajamafication of the American workplace. I routinely see women at my company in track pants, plastic croc shoes, stripper heels, leggings-worn-as-pants and too tight tops with their tummies spilling out.
Is this really what business casual has done to the workplace? When was the last time you saw a man inappropriately dressed in the workplace? Maybe sometimes, but not very often. After that point, if you continue to dress like that, it just shows poor judgement and you look crazy. I love dresses, skirts and blazers. Why in the world would I care if my horribly dressed colleagues think I am overdressed?
These are people I should take fashion advice from or care about their opinions? Error on the side of being overdressed and do it with pride!!
I work in IT; and although business casual, our workplace does have a very detailed dress code. And the men break it constantly. Theres senior systems guys in flip-flops and too-small shirts with their bellies exposed, so much ripped denim and flat out offensive band logos, brightly colored sneakers, unkempt beard and hair, and all that underwear on display… and of course, the HR does nothing about this. I remarked to ou HR manager about someone wearing a Marvin the martin t-shirt yesterday it made sense in context , which would be blatantly against the dress code, and his reaction was to whistle the looney tunes theme.
Men look like slobs in the tech space all the time, some even make Mark Zuckerberg look chic. In fact, sometimes my coworkers remark on how nice I look and make verbal note that they themselves have been stuck in a jeans rut and should step it up more. That hoodie looks totally unprofessional. At least for women. The whole point of dressing well is so we put our best foot forward and bias the observer towards taking us seriously. If dressing super-casually gets us respect, are we missing the point here?
Wearing newer shirts could signify a newbie—a new hire. Non-company shirts may be worn by a longtime staffer comfortable in his role. At this point in the conversation I felt as though I was being taught the etiquette of a 17th-century French court.
This idea that specific T-shirt customs within a tech company can follow certain rules and imply meaning, power, and hierarchy is a fascinating one. I was laid off for 18 months and was hired through a temp agency at a construction company that was VERY casual. After 18 months of not working, I really did not have the money to buy jeans to get me through an entire work week and I was definitely not comfortable dressing as casually as some of my new co-workers workout gear, cropped sweatshirts, Aeropostale and Pink logos, flip flops… YIKES!
Factor in the season--sometimes. Professional dress code in much of the world has some seasonality, based partially on the weather but also on seasonal styles. But be aware that some regions do not really have changes in clothing based on seasons.
Such as the tropics. But for areas with clothing seasons, many areas the following rules of thumb apply: Linen, seersucker, and madras cloth tend to be appropriate for summer only. Wool clothing tends to be for fall and winter only.
In America, an old saying is "no white after Labor Day" This is a very outdated rule. Feel free to brazenly wear a white shirt in the office in winter. Layers of appropriate clothing can help negotiate in-between seasons, when temperatures can fluctuate. For instance, a cardigan can be useful coming into work on a crisp fall day, and removed later when it warms up. A pair of warm leggings can allow you to wear skirts comfortably in winter.
Keep in mind that the amount of visible skin allowable will be slightly different in business settings. What is acceptable in one culture may be unacceptable in another. For instance, what is fine for a women in France may be too revealing in Qatar. If you choose to remove layers of clothing, make sure you are in no way being revealing or inappropriate about the skin you choose to show.
If you are wearing a camisole under a blazer, and you are not supposed to have a sleeveless shirt, you may be out of luck. Know what colors to wear. No color is completely "off limits" but it is more formal and professional stick mainly with a neutral color palette.
Formal business suits for both men and women tend to be black, brown, gray, tan, or navy blue. Shirts tend to be lighter in color, with white, off-white, and light shades of colors. This limited color palette may sound boring and dull at first.
However, it also can create a wardrobe that allows for many items to interchange easily. Basing a wardrobe around black, white, and khaki will assure that everything goes with just about everything. Multi-colored shirts can be acceptable, such as a classic striped Oxford-style shirt. These guidelines are for people who need to make their dress more professional. Brighter and more varied colors can be entirely appropriate, depending on the occupation, and the overall appearance of the outfit.
But if you are unsure or inexperienced, select conservative colors--they are perennial office clothes favorites because they always look right. Pay attention to those around you. If you are unsure exactly how formal or casually to dress, try looking at the clothing choices of those in your profession, at your office, or attending the same event as you.
In general, it is better to be slightly overdressed than it is to be under-dressed. If you are not able to get a good glimpse or have a chat with someone in your field, try searching images on the internet for people in similar positions in the company or last year's event.
Pay attention to the appearance of people in these images, and dress accordingly. Be careful of events that may require a dramatic wardrobe change. For instance, at a conference, you may be required to wear suits and ties for the presentation. At the poolside cocktail receptions afterwards, swimsuits, Hawaiian shirts, and flip-flops are the garb of choice.
A great outfit will only get you so far. If you are lacking personal hygiene or have a bad haircut, you will not look professional.
Make sure that you treat your entire appearance, including hair, skin, and hygiene , with the same professional care as you do with your clothing.
How often varies with culture, weather, and activity level. In most of America, at least every other day. Make sure your hair is tidy and well-groomed. Facial hair if any should be trimmed and tidy. Stubble is not generally acceptable. For women, legs should either be shaved or bare legs covered. Good oral hygiene matters.
Be sure your breath has no noticeable odor. This is particularly important if you smoke or eat pungent food. Makeup for women should generally be restrained, according to culture. Know that formal business attire is tailored, conservative clothing.
Although fashion changes the little details, the essential core of formal office attire has really not changed much in decades. Dressing business formal is in some ways easier than in business casual, because the parameters are a lot narrower and well-defined.
Both genders are typically expected to wear suits, typically in neutral colors as described above. In general, men and women wear the following: Formal suit, dress shirt, dress shoes, tie.
Sometimes dressy slacks and sport coat are acceptable alternatives for a business suit. Often a shirt without an outer garment is acceptable. Pants are also acceptable. A conservative dress may be substituted for a suit. Pick your strong suit. Suits should be tailored for fit. Solid colors or pinstripes, and in good condition.
Skirt suits should be knee-length and not too tight. Choose the right tops. Shirts should be typically solid or pinstriped, tailored for fit, laundered, and ironed if required. Long sleeves are always more formal. Short sleeves are typically acceptable for spring and summer. However, some workplaces and cultures frown on bare arms. Women typically should steer away from sleeveless shirts if unsure if they are accepted or not.
In some regions sleeveless shirts but not one with straps, such as halter tops are considered perfectly acceptable. In others, they are not considered appropriate. Tank tops, camisoles, tube tops, strapless tops amd "spaghetti strap" tops are not office formal clothing.
Men should match shirt to tie. Women have to be extra careful in the cut and fit of office tops. Put bluntly, especially for full-figured women the bustline must be fitted properly so that it is not too revealing, too tight, or otherwise exposing more of the breasts so it is inappropriate.
If your blouse gaps at the buttons of the bustline, the shirt does not fit you properly. Fabric or "fashion" tapes can be purchased to hold blouses in the right position. Choose your ties carefully, men. Ties can allow for some color and pattern in an outfit that would be rather drab.
It attracts attention, so be very careful in what you choose. Not all ties are appropriate for business formal dress code. Opt for either solid color, or have a small no larger than a quarter sized print that covers them. Avoid ties that have more than colors total, and which have an image or scene printed onto them. Ties should match both your shirts and your suits and make sure they use colors that match or go with the rest of your outfit.
Try to buy shirts and ties together, if possible. Men's stores coordinate colors to try to make the buying process easy. It may not be the same colors next year or even next season!
If in doubt, ask for help--a good quality store will be happy to help you. Bow ties are also generally considered acceptable. However, they are far less common and can be considered unusual or "quirky". Bolo ties are often regionally acceptable in areas of the American South, Southwest, and West coast. However, they may or may not be considered an acceptable replacement for a tie depending on the workplace. Say yes to the dress, ladies! Dresses can easily be worn in a business formal setting, but be careful with your selection.
Choose dresses that are knee-length or longer, and are in a subtle print or solid color. A good blazer or suit jacket can make a dress more formal and versatile. This sort of outfit is the basis of the classic "day to night" women's wear, in which a woman goes to work wearing an evening appropriate dress coordinated with a work appropriate blazer.
At the evening rendezvous, put aside the blazer for a less formal look. Choose the right shoes for the job. Business formal jobs all require quality footwear, typically made of leather or similar high-quality material.
Men should always wear formal shoes, often in the baroque or oxford style. Lace up is more traditional. There are many slip-on loafers that also may be appropriate and formal.
Black is the go-to color, although brown is sometimes acceptable. Women should typically wear low or moderate high heel shoes or flat pumps. Conservative boots are sometimes appropriate. Make sure details and embellishments are restrained.
Women generally have more choice in color, but sticking to black and neutral colors is still safer. Sock it to them. In a formal office, white cotton athletic socks are usually not acceptable. If you are wearing socks, they should usually be dark black is typical. Ideally they go with the pants or shoes. Women, wear your nylons. In a formal workplace, you should usually wear pantyhose, or tights under your skirt.
Choose sheer tights in a neutral color. Leggings are not appropriate in a formal workplace; choose opaque tights instead. Barelegged although well groomed is becoming more acceptable. But if in doubt, put on a pair of pantyhose or tights.
To complete your outfit, remember some accessories. In general, keep jewelry and other accessories subtle and tasteful. Be careful of wearing too much, although what constitutes "too much" will vary from culture to culture. Also, what is OK for a man and a woman may be different. Necklaces and bracelets are often uncommon but usually acceptable if in good taste. Medical Alert jewelry is always OK. Most formal offices will not look favorably on body piercings, including earrings.
Belt buckles should generally not be oversized. Jewelry rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches are all typically acceptable, but be careful of too much or too large pieces. Pierced ears are almost universally OK with studs or small earrings , generally other body piercings should not be visible.
Scarves, belts, headbands, hair accessories such as barrettes , are also all fine. Avoid the "Business Casual Don'ts". This is less formal and casual than traditional business guidelines. Unfortunately, it is often poorly defined and can be greatly different from one business to another. For instance, one business will be fine with Hawaiian print shirts with collars, while another will consider it too casual despite the collar.
However, in general, the following are usually frowned upon: Although a more detailed discussion on blue jeans in the workplace is below. Sometimes more tailored styles are acceptable--such as ones that resemble full length khakis, but shorter. Athletic styles are usually not OK. Usually collared polo-type T-shirts are acceptable, or ones with shaping.
If in doubt, do not go with any graphic images on your shirts. Shirts usually should not have elements which could be controversial or unacceptable--such as references to alcohol, sex, or violence. Avoid novelty T-shirts, such as ones with cartoon characters as this may come off as immature. Skirts should be no higher than about two inches above the knee.
Be sure your V-neck shirt is not revealing too much, or your blouse buttoned too low. Keep it clean and tidy. Never come into work with clothes that are dirty, stained, ripped, or wrinkled the one exception for wrinkled may be if that is part of the look, such as a seersucker shirt or crinkle cotton skirt.
Know the definite "Office Casual Do's": For men and women alike, business casual typically consists of a clean, pressed button-up shirt and a pair of neutral such as khaki slacks. Look for styles such as: This collared shirt is the quintessential "office casual" choice for both men and women. Usually it will be available in a solid or striped.
It can sometimes be found with a geometric pattern. This is acceptable in formal office clothing as well - a well-tailored shirt always looks good whether with khakis or a business suit. Some workplaces are fine with T-shirt style tops, as long as they are not informal T-shirts. For instance, a T-shirt with a classic scoop or crew neckline on a woman. In an office-casual workplace, often shirts given to you by your company or products that your company sells are acceptable.
For instance, if you work at a company that sells outdoor equipment, wearing your company's shirts may be acceptable. But be careful--just because your company sells tank tops may not make it OK to wear tanks tops to your accounting job! Choose the right bottoms. Find a few pairs of black, navy blue, khaki, or brown pants.
In "office casual" the pants are usually cotton and can be a little more "relaxed" than those found in formal offices. Woman can wear skirts into the mixed in the same aforementioned color palette.
Avoid patterns if you are unsure on what looks professional. There are great, classic patterns such as pinstripe that look great on pants, but it is easy to make a mistake. Generally avoid wearing white pants or a skirt.
While entirely appropriate, these items can stain easy A patterned skirt can be appropriate for women. Try a small floral or geometric print.
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