Tips for Dressing for a Professional Environment

Having spent quite some time in various professional environments and circumstances, I’ve come to realize over the years that not everyone has the same defintion of a professional wardrobe.  I thought I’d share some dos and don’ts for those of you preparing to enter the work force or for those who are already in the work force looking to change up your wardrobe, based on what I’ve seen and on my own past faux pas!

Tops

ann-taylor-tulip-lace-pencil-skirtDo: Wear blouses and button-downs.

Don’t: Wear t-shirts.

Exception:
I don’t always find that t-shirts are inappropriate for the workplace. However, if you’re going to wear a t-shirt or cotton shirt to work, pair it with a structured skirt or pants to keep the look professional. T-shirts with lace, beading, or other intricate details help to elevate a t-shirt to a more blouse-like status.

Pants

Do: Wear trousers.

Don’t: Wear leggings as pants.  Just because a pair of leggings are black in color, doesn’t mean they are pants!

Skirts

ann-taylor-crosshatch-tweed-pencil-skirtDo: Wear skirts that are an appropriate length. Skirts that hit right above the knee will still be an appropriate length for most petite ladies.  Skirts that hit at the knee or slightly below will be more appropriate for taller ladies.  Lucky leggy ladies may also be able to pull off the oh-so-chic midi length pencil skirt.

Don’t: Wear skirts that are not an ideal length. Petite ladies don’t have to worry as much about skirts erring on being too short; however, petite ladies should be conscientious not to wear skirts that err on the side of being too long either.  Long skirts on a petite frame shorten the leg line and overwhelm the body, making one appear shlumpy and unprofessional.  On the flip side, taller ladies should be conscientious of skirts being inappropriately short.  An above the knee skirt on a very tall lady may still leave too much leg skin exposed to be appropriate for work. Regardless of your size or shape, try on different skirt lengths to see what works best for you!

Shoes

ann-taylor-florence-suede-heeled-bootsDo: Wear dress shoes.

Don’t: Wear sneakers, slippers, certain types of boots.

Exception: In some work environments, comfortable shoes are an absolute necessity. If you find that you must wear sneakers for work, opt for a pair of slim, black, unembellished sneakers.  Steer clear of bulky, colorful, running shoes.  Likewise, a pair of slim, unembellished boots with tights, a skirt, and a blouse can be acceptable for work, particularly in the colder months.  Steer clear of bulky, flashy boots with several buckles and zippers, all of which lend to a very casual non-work appropriate look.  Also avoid pairing these types of boots with colored pants in the workplace.  Always aim to keep your work outfits polished, streamlined, and unembellished.

Hair

Do: Comb through your bed hair.

Don’t: Come to work with bed hair or still wet post-shower hair.

Exception: Your alarm didn’t ring.  It’s happened to all of us.

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