Office-Appropriate Apparel: 5 Dos and Don'ts

If you work in an office, it’s important to wear appropriate apparel. Here are a few dos and don’ts that will help you decide what to wear to look stylish and professional:

Dos & Don'ts

  1. Dress in classic suits in conservative colors like black, navy, and gray. If you are a man, you can add a little flare with a colorful tie, interesting cufflinks, and a watch. If you are a woman, you can accessorize with jewelry, scarves, shoes, or a purse. Be careful not to overdo the accessories, since a little can go a long way.
  2. Make sure your clothes fit. You don’t want your clothes to be baggy because you will look sloppy. Likewise, you don’t want your clothes to be too tight or your pants or jacket sleeves to be too short. Having clothes that fit you perfectly makes your outfit appear to be tailored just for you.
  3. Don’t forget your shoes and socks. No tennis shoes, sandals, or moccasins should be worn on the office. Men should wear closed toed loafers or dress shoes that are free from scuffs. Women have several options from pumps to tasteful boots. Just make sure any heels you wear aren’t so high that you are unsteady or uncomfortable working in them all day.
  4. Spend some time on grooming. Get a good haircut that suits you. Men should make sure any facial hair they have is neat and well kept; otherwise, they should shave regularly. Men should not consistently have two or three day’s worth of beard growth.
  5. Be conservative and don’t show too much skin. Men should wear long sleeve shirts if they have tattoos in order to cover them. Similarly, women need to be careful not to send the wrong message to coworkers by revealing too much cleavage or leg. And by no means is it ever appropriate to show your midriff in the office, so make sure whatever top you choose is long enough to cover your stomach even when you are reaching for something on a top shelf.

If you're not sure what to wear, take a clue from your boss. If she wears suits, you should do the same, but if they dress more casually, you can too. Just know that if you have aspirations of moving up the corporate ladder in the company, you should dress slightly better than the office norm. You want to wear clothes that send the message that you are someone who cares about your job and who should be taken seriously.