Choosing the Right Clothes for the Workplace
Unless you work in a factory or at McDonald's, chances are, you don't have a work uniform. Because the
formality of a dress code changes from company to company, it is essential to know what your company expects. Once you are familiar with
your company's dress code, use this information to help guide you in your fashion choices.
Strict, Professional Attire
If you hold a high-ranking position such as VP of Finance or CEO, or if you work in certain
industries, such as law or finance, your dress code is probably severe to help maintain a high level of professionalism. For this
situation, you'll want to own the following:
1. Several, well-fitted double-breasted or single-breasted skirted suits. The suits should be in black
or navy blue only. The shells underneath should be white, cream, or black only. The skirt should be fitted, but not tight, and end just
above or at the knee. Traditionally, double-breasted suits are considered more formal. The most important thing: these suits should be
professionally tailored. Correct skirt length, sleeve length, and fitted waist can make or break this outfit.
2. Closed-toe, closed-heel one-to-three inch pumps in black and navy blue. Stilettos are not
appropriate here, and flats are considered unprofessional (though you may want to toss a pair of slip-on gym shoes in your bag to
comfortably run between the train and the office building.).
3. Flesh-colored pantyhose. Even when wearing a black suit, black panty hose are not appropriate.
Thankfully, most companies today, even many law firms, fall under this category. While still
maintaining a professional appearance, there are more options available to dress for work.
1. Several well-fitted suits. Here, the suits can be skirts or pants, although, again, the skirt
should not be too short. Longer, fitted skirts that match the jacket are acceptable. You have more color options as well, one of the more
popular colors being ruby red. Stay away from neon colors for the suit, but feel free to match a sapphire blue suit with a lime green
shell. Again, have these suits professionally altered.
2. Mix-and-Match Skirts, Slacks and Blazers. Give yourself a lot of variety by sticking with basic
colors: blue, black, white, cream, beige, etc.
3. Colorful Shells. Whether silk blouses or cotton turtlenecks, you'll get the most use out of your
wardrobe by having lots of shells to choose from. Here is where personal style and the latest trends can bring fun to your wardrobe.
4. Matching closed-toe, closed-heel, one-to-three inch pumps. Of course blue and black will come in
handy, but a pair of red pumps will look fun with your red suit, while still being professional. Avoid lots of straps and sparkles. Also,
the rule of thumb when choosing what color shoe to wear: the shoe should always be the same color or darker than your hemline.
5. Different colors of pantyhose. Although flesh colored is always appropriate, you can splurge a
little by adding black, suntan, navy blue, and even white.
Office Casual / Dress-Down Fridays
You can always dress more professionally, but never less, so this category offers you the most flexibility and variety.
1. Fun dresses, skirts, and tops. Provided the pieces are not too sexy or revealing, the sky's the
limit on the fashionable, trendy things you can wear.
2. Slacks. Besides your staples, black, blue and khaki, you can even get green, pink, white, or
whatever color suits your mood. Unless it specifically allows them in your dress code, do not wear Capri's. Most businesses still don't allow these.
3. Shoes. Although some companies for safety reasons may require closed-toe shoes, enjoy the freedom
of wearing loafers, flats, sandals, pumps, or even boots. If you're on your feet a lot, don't go for the stilettos.