Author: Miss Monogram
What to wear to work at the office is a bit of a grey area these days. In the past, it was easy: men would always sport a shirt, jacket and tie, and women generally chose a smart suit, or tailored dress, with sensible heels.
My, how things have changed. It seems some employees have decided to make Casual Friday a daily occurrence! Leggings, jumpsuits, crop tops and even tracksuits are some of the horrors that have been spotted.
When it comes to office attire, you really do need to think it through: especially if you're a woman. Sometimes, you'd almost wish there was a uniform - everybody would look the same and it's virtually impossible to get it wrong!
The Gender Dilemma
For men, there is a uniform of sorts, and that's the jacket and tie. And this is a look that a woman could adopt and tweak. The dilemma for businesswomen is finding a style that is both feminine and serious. They want to be taken seriously, but feel they shouldn't have to dress like a man to achieve that.
Perception matters and that all-important first impression counts for a lot. And that often puts a woman between a rock and a hard place! Go too masculine, and you could be seen as too tough. Choose a floral dress and you might not be taken seriously.
Yes, it's unfair, but it's true. And research proves it. In a psychology study carried out in 2015, 129 women were shown images of faceless female models wearing work wear. Whilst all the outfits were fairly conservative, hemlines varied, and extra blouse buttons were left undone.
Dressing For Confidence
Where the outfits were more 'provocative', the models were judged to have less important jobs, or not be as competent as those wearing longer skirts and more demure blouses. And remember, that was the observation of other women!
So ladies, what do you wear in order to look smart but feminine, be taken seriously, cause no offence, be comfortable, AND feel confident? It's a challenge for sure!
Here are some Dos and Don'ts that may help - especially as the weather heats up!
Don't Overdo The Skin!
As a rule of thumb, if you're showing leg, cover up the cleavage; if you're showing cleavage, cover up the legs. NEVER combine a mini skirt with a plunging top for work! You may well be expressing yourself, but you won't be taken seriously.
Smart sleeveless tops are acceptable if your arms are in shape, but do ensure your personal grooming is up-to-date. And keep a jacket handy for meetings.
Hemlines And Shorts
A hemline on or below the knee is best. If you do go shorter, choose flatter shoes to soften the effect. And what about shorts? Tailored shorts are acceptable in many workplaces - and again, on the knee is best. Do not wear chopped jeans or short shorts!
Some Body Parts Are Best Left Covered.
However toned you are, crop tops are not acceptable in the office. And neither is revealing your thong, when you bend over in low-riders!
Best Foot Forward
If you're going to wear open-toed sandals, make sure you have a pedicure first. Chipped, ragged toenails, and cracked heels are not a good look.
Accessorise With Care
Harper's BAZAAR recommend personalising your work wear with one standout piece, perhaps an expensive pair of shoes, a scarf, or ONE piece of jewellery. Choose a bag that is both functional and feminine, preferably in leather. Monogrammed bags are very in right now.
A great idea is to choose a clutch that fits into your handbag. Keep essentials in the clutch, so it's easy to grab for that lunch meeting or after-work drinks.