Working It Without Showing It: Appropriate Attire in the Workplace

January 24, 2009 • Magazine

Working It Without Showing It: Appropriate Attire in the Workplace

Working It Without Showing It: Appropriate Attire in the Workplace

Sun, 2009-01-25 03:00

Rachel Yeomans

Recently I attended a work association luncheon that toted a very interesting topic and drew many members of the business world to attend; however the luncheon brought about another topic completely unrelated to that of the agenda. The topic of clothing.

I had never seen so much “skin” during a work-related event — even including work holiday parties and happy hours. The question came to mind: Since when did work functions become flaunting functions?

Granted, I love my mini skirts and strapless tops like the next girl; however those items are stored for weekend or evening wear. They never accompany the purse holding my business card holder. Call me a prude, but I feel a bit of Emily Post needs to be reintroduced into the female work wardrobe.

The gender fashion divide is quite significant when it comes to dress code. Men usually have the options of slacks, button-down tucked in shirt, nice shoes, and perhaps a tie or jacket. Maybe for casual attire you have jeans or a polo shirt. Either way, there isn’t much wiggle room. For women, we’ve always had a lot more flexibility with work attire. We can wear skirts, slacks, pumps, flats, button-down shirts or something between a shirt and blouse, many styles of jackets … and the list keeps going. However there is a difference between work outfit wiggle room and inappropriate.

Yes it is fantastic to feel confident in the work force. And let’s admit it, the power suit is quite sexy — however it can be sexy without giving everything away. You can be attractive, powerful and respectable without causing a stir among your work colleagues.

Cleavage, no. Bra strap, no. Thigh, no. Navel display, no. Even toe displays (pedicure or not) walk a fine line of appropriateness.

Here are few basic guidelines to think about:
1. If you are wearing a v-neck blouse that may reveal too much when reaching for the salt shaker, wear a tank under it.
2. If you are wearing a blouse that can’t be tucked in due to its cut, but it also may show a little belly if you lift up your arms — again a perfect opportunity to add a tank to the ensemble.
3. Think prep school when it comes to skirts — no more than 3 inches above the knee.
4. If you can barely button it or if you can see your panty line – it’s too tight!
5. Your Led Zeppelin or FCUK cotton t-shirt is a fantastic statement, but a statement better suited for the sidewalk, not for under the suit at the office.
6. Cover your shoulders either with a sleeved blouse, cardigan or jacket.
7. The work vest is meant to be worn with a top under it.

As the saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Ladies, take note of whether your wardrobe flaunts your career goal as professional or floozy.

1. Oscar de la Renta Silk Crepe High-waisted Pants and Silk Bow Front Blouse $980, $950
2. Bottega Veneta Ankle Length Pants, Gabardine Trench Coat, Intrecciato Sole Pumps and Chloé Collarless Silk Blouse $980, $2,400, $760, $663
3. Ports 1961 Cardi Jacket On Sale $165
4. Bebe Pinstripe Contrast Lapel Vest On Sale $69

5. Bebe Stretched Houndstooth Vest On Sale $69
6. Theory Liddy Tweed Skirt On Sale $60
7. Bebe Linen Denim Halter Empire Dress On Sale $149

Image Layout: Allison Merzel

See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40

Leave a Reply