What is work appropriate clothing and style?
I was reading this article about how women find it too hard to dress for work and get all worked up about what is acceptable and not.
I honestly do not find it that hard to decide on what to wear to work, but I will say that it comes with a caveat because of three things:
- I have the means to buy nice clothes
- I have the conventional body to wear said clothes
- I do not find style frivolous nor stressful, but in fact an enjoyable challenge
HAVING THE MEANS…
It is very easy to say what to buy and so on, it is much harder to afford it. Nice looking items that last and look good, cost money. I am talking $200-ish for a top, and $300-ish for a dress.
Plus, the accessories!
The good news is that if you had said tops and dresses you could wear them twice a week and be done with choosing anything else to wear to work, and feel great in them.
The problem is that most people have a Forever 21 or Old Navy budget, but the clothes sold there are too casual (sometimes) to be able to be worn to work.
To get more creative, you need to stretch your buck and start (like me) looking at secondhand designer items and/or thrifting instead.
HAVING THE CONVENTIONAL BODY…
You know what I mean. I fit into pretty much anything.
Sure, I avoid spaghetti straps, boatnecks and certain cuts or prints for my upper half, but I basically look good in anything I wear.
This is a privilege that many don’t have, or think they don’t have.
It is much harder to dress a curvier body that has a tinier waist but the hips are larger, than a shape that is pretty much straight-up-and-down like mine. I fit into everything.
Some ways around this, would be to buy the larger size, and tailor in the waist. I do this often, believe it or not. I don’t like items that are too tight, so I buy them a size larger, and take them in.
NOT FINDING STYLE TO BE A FRUSTRATING CHALLENGE
I really enjoy style and fashion, that is clear. So finding prints and patterns that work, and mix, are things I LOVE to do. It makes me so happy to hit on the perfect outfit that just WORKS and I thought about it on the fly.
I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I have a pretty good success rate because I know my body well, I have an intuitive sense of what kind of style I like and I have all the pieces in my wardrobe that can go with any kind of outfit.
With that said, here are some of what I think are office appropriate rules that I tend to follow for myself, and it helps rule out what I can or cannot wear to work.
Is it too pretty and fancy?
I have dresses that are just too pretty and/or fancy, either by the fact that they are 100% chiffon skirted ballgown affairs, or just the material itself screams: this is too nice!
For instance, this maxi dress. VERY. PRETTY.
But it is a long skirted affair (therefore ballgown-ish), and absolutely not office appropriate. This is fancy dress stuff.
Other things that are too pretty or fancy? This top I almost bought but then controlled myself.
LOOK! SO PRETTY. But not office appropriate due to the plunging neckline first of all, but also the ripped jeans don’t help.
Is it too tight / short / revealing / transparent / open in any way?
Things that fall under this category for me, can even be maxi dresses like this because it is QUITE low cut (you can’t tell with my small bust but it is pretty low cut)…
Other things I can’t wear are short shorts, or yoga pants! Like these shorts? OMG no. Not at the office.
Leggings COUNT as being office IN-appropriate, by the way. I do not care what you say.
Make sure that these leggings you wear have zippers, pockets, and buttons on them or else they are most certainly LEGGINGS and not appropriate unless you wear them with a long tunic top covering your bum.
(Even that looks like loungewear to me.)
Another item that was too revealing for work? The slit on this dress! Scandalous.. it goes up to mid-thigh when I sit and it FALLS OPEN so it shows half of my bare thigh no matter how I sit or what I do.
Is it too trendy or casual?
For instance, these ripped jeans?
This is a weekend or night thing. I would never wear ripped anything to work.
Another too cool or trendy item would have been this glossy pencil skirt in green.
I would have DEFINITELY purchased this vinyl skirt if it were cheaper, but I would have absolutely never worn that skirt to the office even if I had it in my closet.
(Also that top, is just something I’d never wear. Ever.)
Is it too odd for work?
Leather pants? Very cool.
Appropriate for work? Not at all in my book unless you work in marketing, advertising, fashion, public relations or anything ‘trendy’.
Another thing that is too cool? For me, things with graphics or icons on them.
I thought about it, but would not wear something like this to work. It is too fun.. if that makes any sense.
Does it look like I am a professional?
If people come up to me and ask me where the bathroom is, I obviously need to step it up.
I have to also look and FEEL like I am at work, and wearing proper clothes helps with that.
Once, I wore slightly loose, casual sort of cargo pants to work and felt so out of place all day, like I should be at the park with my son instead.
This for me, is work appropriate workwear for instance. Proper shoes or sandals (NOT FLIP FLOPS PLEASE OH DEAR GOD NO), and a nice dress with a long enough hem because when you go to sit down, that skirt or dress will riiiiiiide up and reveal a LOT of thigh.
Other professional garb would be simple items as well like this for a Friday:
Or this with a HINT of leather, but the rest of it being pretty toned down.