You open your closet, stare for a moment and think, “I have absolutely nothing to wear to work.” For whatever reason, selecting an outfit to wear to work always adds a little more stress to your morning routine. Do you slip on a skirt or slacks? White or black blouse? Boots or loafers? You’re now 15 minutes behind schedule, standing in front of half your closet that’s now piled up on the floor.
If the question of “What to wear to work?” crosses your mind multiple times a week (or even once!), just remember: Don’t dress boring. You can wear the same thing over and over again, just add a little bit of spice each time. Whether that’s with bold accessories or a scarf, there is always a way to create a not-so-boring outfit that is still appropriate for the office.
Essentially, there are two types of outfits you can wear to work depending: classic and casual. When you’re on the clock, avoid distraction by wearing pieces that are too tight, bright or sheer, no matter the dress code.
Here are tips and tricks to get you from Monday to Friday:
The business-professional look
Although the business-professional look is relatively boring and doesn’t let you flaunt your personal style, there are ways to add excitement to this classic look. Don’t settle for your typical buttoned-up, black slacks and blazer. Instead, go for slim-cut black dress pants with a classy blouse, a pencil skirt and jacket combination, or a fitted career dress. Skirts and dresses should be snug against your body, but not too tight. They should also be tailored to hit your knee or below, and blouses should always be tucked in.
Marion Gellatly, president of image and style consulting group Powerful Presence, told Forbes that dark colors often project higher authority and are generally more professional looking than a flashy floral pattern.
Work with a monochromatic scheme based on a neutral color palette. Black, white, navy, cream, brown, charcoal and gray are boardroom appropriate. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid color at all costs, however. Add a pop of color with a lightly accented blazer, or instead of your matching two-piece suit, swap out the black pencil skirt for a burgundy or charcoal one. Just be mindful and don’t show up to a meeting in a lime green blazer.
Incorporate subtle fashion-forward accessories, but avoid anything gaudy. Think simple, sleek and chic when choosing your jewelry. Cinch your waist with a thin leather belt or dress your neck up with a printed fashion scarf.
The business-casual look
If you can wear jeans to work, take advantage of it! There are many ways to dress jeans up or down, creating a new look every time you step out of the house. If it’s not quite Friday yet, but you’re feeling a tad more lazy than normal, slip on your best pair of skinny jeans, a fitted blouse, a tailored blazer, a statement necklace and pumps or boots, depending on the weather. Polished heels, a silky (but appropriate) blouse and a fashion blazer are key to dressing up the I-wear-jeans-to-work look.
But if it’s Friday, or if your place of work approves of a more laid-back dress code, show off your personal style and cozy up in a cute cardigan sweater and a comfy pair of jeans. As always, dress it up with bold accessories and fashionable shoes. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a casual work environment, swap out your jeans with faux leather leggings or cropped pants. A simple substitute can change your whole look!
Keep in mind that you should not wear jeans when you have a client meeting, as these events tend to be more formal. In addition, avoid the distressed look. Sometimes this can look too casual.
As always, dress to impress, but never let your outfit outshine your work. It is important to stay focused on business, and sometimes a flashy outfit can be a distraction to yourself and your co-workers. Avoid loud logos, revealing tops, short skirts or sloppy clothing. A hemline that hits more than 3-4 inches above the knee is generally considered inappropriate. Don’t wear tank tops or spaghetti straps unless you’re layering up; and remember, you are not going to the gym or taking a stroll down the beach – so no gym shoes or flip-flops.
Before you leave for work, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Is this appropriate to wear in front of Grandma?” Simply put, use your best judgment and you’ll rock the 9-5 look with style.