How expensive can you look when you’re at work?
This is not a challenge, but it’s more of a question meant to generate discussion.
As a woman who loves dressing up and looking nice, I am also acutely aware of how I have to present myself at work, and that includes how expensive I look (if at all).
By expensive, I don’t mean being covered in diamonds or wearing tiaras, it’s more along the lines of deliberately wearing high-end items that are easily recognizable by others in the office.
Note: Most of my designer items are secondhand. Only ONE designer item has been purchased at retail and I agonized over paying that kind of money.
I have no problems wearing secondhand items, but I always dryclean and/or wash and disinfect them like crazy before I wear them.
Fortunately, I work in client environments where it’s mostly men, so even if I actually owned a pair of Louboutins and wore them, I’m pretty sure unless they were really into fashion, they would have no idea what the red sole means in terms of how much it cost.
(Plus they’re too high to wear in a professional environment.)
I usually wear business casual which is a nice top (no sequins or glitter), skirts to the knee, and low heels.
But that’s a business casual office environment.
What if you work in a lab? At a hospital? In the field? You may have to dress down.. WAY down to be taken seriously.
Or how about if you work at a bank?
I have friends who have 3 suits they rotate through during the week. I call it the monkey suit 🙂
They are all black, although my one friend insists that they’re all different shades of black.
As a banker you have to walk the line between looking sharp, and looking like you’re taking them for all they’ve got.
DO YOU GET JUDGED FOR LOOKING TOO NICE?
I have a friend who tells me that they don’t take her seriously because she wears nicer tops to work, flat ballet shoes that aren’t hiking boots and slaps on a bit of makeup.
The women she works with, shop at L.L.Bean, and wear hiking boots, those polar fleece vests and very utilitarian things, not to mention going totally makeup-free with their hair back in ponytails.
To those women, she looks too expensive.
I also think that some things look too nice for work — super sky high heels, or really fancy looking wrap dresses can be too nice for some work environments.
SO HOW EXPENSIVE CAN YOU LOOK AT WORK?
Personally I’d err on the side of cautious conservatism.
No ostentatious labels and logos would be my thing.
I’d also stay away from wearing anything with sequins, glitter, anything too short or low-cut unless you work at a bar (you won’t believe what I saw girls wearing to the office), and to keep things simple.
I would DEFINITELY also stay away from super tight clothing that is too form-fitting and skyscraping heels at 4″ or that require a hidden platform.
That is not professional unless you’re on stage and performing, no matter what anyone says.
That said, there’s no need to feel paralyzed into wearing a uniform of boring clothes either!