Office dress codes vary greatly by geography, climate, industry, and even within different departments. It can be tough if not impossible to generalize any outfit as “work-appropriate” across the board, but despite these differences, there are some rules that hold steady no matter what type of office environment you find yourself in. Click through for 10 office dress code do’s and don’ts, and add yours in the comment section!
When it's blazing hot outside, every last bit of sleeve can feel like a furnace on your skin. No matter how hot it gets though, resist the urge to go strapless or wear a spaghetti strap to work. Sleeves at minimum should hit the top of your shoulder like the shirt pictured right. You don't have to get rid of your spaghetti straps completely, though.Throw a cardigan or blazer over them to make them work-appropriate on cooler days.
No matter how casual your office is, consider something other than flip flops for work. An open-toe sandal made from a dressier material like faux leather and anything that doesn't go between your toes is preferred. Also consider something with a covered heel, not cork or wood. If flats are a must, then try the same style pictured right, minus the small heel.
It's casual Friday and everyone is wearing pajamas. Don't give in to the case of too-casual Fridays; just say no to hoodies and pajamas at work! Try a dressier alternative like the blazer pictured right instead.
The saying goes, "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have," but don't take that too far. Dressing in a full suit like the CEO every day when your immediate boss is in jeans and sandals might send the wrong signals. There's nothing wrong with going a tad dressier than your boss. Instead of a full suit though, try something like a wrap dress that will be slightly less formal, but still show you mean business.
This one is a no-brainer. Hemlines that are more than an inch or two above your knee are always a no-no at work. This goes for both skirts and shorts. If you find that skirts and dresses always fit short (hello fellow tall ladies, I'm talking to you), then buy a size or two larger and have the item taken in by a tailor.
So many offices allow jeans these days, but that doesn't mean "wear whatever you want." Don't go for denim that is overly baggy, tight, distressed, or embellished. What you wear with your jeans also matters. Instead of pairing jeans with a casual t-shirt like the left picture, try dressing them up with a blazer, statement jewelry, a scarf, and/or dressy shoes. Jeans at work can look polished and professional in the right outfit.
There's certainly no need to hide your shape under baggy clothes at work, but showing too much cleavage can easily cross the line of appropriateness. Keep those necklines relatively high, and add a cami to anything that you are questioning.
Don't believe there's such a thing as playing it too safe? It can definitely happen. Especially if your boss is fashion-forward and/or your role includes a lot of interaction with clients. There's nothing wrong with the dress on the left for work, but if your entire wardrobe looks the same day after day, it certainly can't hurt to show a little personality with color, prints (or both) from time to time.
We've all been there: You buy a shirt and it shrinks, or the material changes and you can never get the wrinkles out. Shoes become worn with time, edges of pants fray — what's a girl to do? No matter how much your frugal side would prefer to hang onto those clothes rather than buy something new, most of the time when things are disheveled or ill-fitting they should head straight for the "donate" pile. Always check that clothes are fitting properly and free of wrinkles and stains before you walk out the door.
Don't get me wrong — sexy shoes are amazing. For a date, for a night out, just not for work. Some shoes like the ones pictured left are an obvious no-no for work, but there's also a huge gray area for shoes. One pair may feel conservative to some, while others may feel the same pair is too risqué. Use your best judgement based on your own office dress code, and for job interviews be safe and stick to conservative closed-toe pumps like pictured right.