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Style Help: What not to wear…to work

I started thinking about all the things appropriate to wear to work but ended up creating a post on what was inappropriate.

I cannot say that I speak for all industries (creative ones like the arts, fashion, music and film are far less rigid) but suffice it to say you should play it safe unless it is expected of you to dress to the extreme as part of your job.

It is great, even encouraged to look good and fashion-conscious in my opinion, but there are some things that are never acceptable at most workplaces:

Off the shoulder, one shoulder or anything baring shoulders completely

This is a hot trend right now but save it for the weekend!

A photo posted by suzette bagby (@curiouslittleminx) on

Thin spaghetti straps

Unless you plan on wearing a jacket or sweater over it ALL DAY like I do with a few of these tanks.

Sleeveless blouses are all right, they don’t show much of your shoulder or much skin, but thin straps are a little too revealing.

Black bras under white blouses

This is a possibly cute look once suggested to me by a Parisienne as I purchased a cream silk bow shirt but completely inappropriate for the office and dubious for my own style in real life.

I’d probably do a black silk CAMISOLE underneath a white sheer top for contrast, but not a bra.

See-through the chest and back tops

Arms are fine though! You aren’t there to flaunt how amazing your abs or your back is (just your brain and personality), so save it for the weekend or night.

Anything overly dyed, bleached or ripped too trendy for the office.

A photo posted by Diane (@petiteinparis) on

Any hemline higher than 3” above your knees – shorts, skirts, whatever

This looks great OUTSIDE of the office, like above, but not IN the office.

I’m even hesitant to give you the fingertip rule (no hem shorter than where your fingertips hit your thighs) because everyone’s arm length, leg length & torso lengths are different …

How to tell is if you sit down and you feel your bare bum touching the chair because it is riding up so much, then IT IS INAPPROPRIATE.

Super baggy, loose, sloppy tops

Especially hated by me are free shapeless giveaway t-shirts even if you’re proud of having run that marathon!

Save it for your time off .. You just look frumpy and like you could not care less.

Over-the-knee boots

They may look great to go out in and are really cute like above with a huge sweater, but unfortunately carry a little too much sexuality in their styling to wear to the office.

Anything promoting controversial views

…especially not shirts condoning racism, sexism, bigotry etc, even ironically or as a joke, people may not take it the same way. In fact, I can guarantee it.

Low rise pants

…so you can see your underwear and/or bum crack when you sit down or squat (do a check). Do I even need to explain this?

A photo posted by V a n e s s a ✰ (@nessa_star) on

Skintight body con dresses even with a jacket

As slamming as your body looks in them, this is for date nights, going out and casual wear, NOT office wear.

Distracting jewellery

….because no one wants an earring in the face.

I find this applies more to earrings than necklaces or anything else, but even they can be distracting if they’re too big and noisy.

1 Comment

  • Kathy

    I agree with everything you mentioned, plus I’d add that in the corporate world cover up the tattoos and forget multiple piercings anywhere other than ears. Most clients or customers don’t want to see your nose or tongue ring and many people think tattoos make a person look somewhat unwashed. Sorry if that offends someone but it is simply a reaction I have witnessed from other people…….and yes, myself included. On the fashion side, I’d suggest that the sky high stiletto heels or platforms are best left for dates or after work. as they sometimes have a certain hooker connotation.

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