What to wear to work? Office attire can be tricky for men and women alike, but women can have an especially hard time with it, since there isn’t a set standard, like the man’s suit.
First, let’s get one thing straight: Jeans are not office appropriate, no matter their color. “But, they’re black,” you say, “You can’t tell they’re jeans!” Yes, we can. And we’re judging you. Jeans are not professional and if we are working for equality in the workplace, we need to dress the part. Lisa Quast at Forbes says, “…to hold a certain job – and secure the position after it – you not only need the knowledge, skills, and experience, you also need to look the part.” A good rule of thumb I follow when I am in the office is to dress one level above your coworkers. If they are in khakis, wear tailored slacks. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
Mix & Match
Take inspiration from the stars. Specifically, career women. From Two Weeks Notice to Scandal, the stars offer some fabulous inspiration for work attire. You need not spend enormous amounts of money on a new wardrobe. There are a few pieces that you can mix and match to create several outfits that will get you through at least ten days at a time. It’s always OK to splurge on a few investment pieces that you know you’ll look and feel great in.
The Collared Shirt
Let’s start at the top. First, you’ll want a white collared shirt. It’s the staple of all staples. It is always in style and looks fresh and clean. Get a tailored one that you iron and can stretch, which is a great way to combat wrinkles. One in your favorite color or that has a nice pattern won’t hurt either. Think Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. You can pair these with skirts and pants, jackets and cardigans, or even wear it under a sweater to create multiple outfits.
A cardigan, a blazer, and a sweater can give you the professional look you need while giving your wardrobe some variety. Choose a cardigan that will contrast but coordinate to your bottom pieces. A neutral-colored blazer is the best choice for a professional look, and when choosing a sweater, choose one with minimal pattern. You can always liven it up with a fun necklace.
A wrap dress, or shirtdress is a must-have for every woman. Remember Dolly Parton’s dress in 9-5? Hello, gorgeous. This can be paired with all of the above pieces for different looks. Wrap dresses look great on every body type. They’re comfortable and breezy. Diane Von Furstenberg came up with this beautiful wardrobe staple in the 70’s and has a brand new collection paying homage to the piece.
Now you’ll need something for your bottom half, like some slacks. Choose some that iron well and match the color of your blazer. That way the two pieces can be worn as a suit. If you choose the right pants you can even wear them out for drinks or pair them with your sweater and cozy up on chilly weekends.
A neutral-colored pencil skirt is a must-have for every woman, including girls like Sandra in Two Weeks Notice. Black is always a good choice for a nice pencil skirt. Choose one that reaches your knees, isn’t too tight, and doesn’t have a high slit. The office is not the place to show off your “ass”ets!
Wear tights and closed-toed shoes. Bare legs and toes aren’t appropriate for most workplaces and covering them up will make you look more polished. Choose a pair of classic pumps with a heel no higher than three inches. A pair in black, brown, and nude should go with everything on your list and make you fashionable and professional.
Keep your work wardrobe chic and professional and save your favorite jeans, booties, and graphic tees for the weekend. I promise if you organize your closet and keep it simple, you’ll never have to worry about what to wear to work.