Expressing yourself is one of life's greatest joys, and sometimes your wardrobe is the best way to do so. But when you're at the office, you have to meld your style with your employer's. Here are seven office wardrobe no-no's plus tips for creating flawless work outfits instead.
1. Dressing too casually or too formally
You may know jeans, shorts, tank tops, and graphic tees are out, but so are super short skirts and dresses that belong at the prom.
The biggest wardrobe-related complaint from employers is that Casual Friday is sometimes taken too far, but it's just as disadvantageous to doll up in chiffon. The solution? A Hillary Clinton–styled pantsuit. Sure it's serious, but there will be time for fun work outfits once you've established your credibility in the office. To add pizzazz to a pantsuit, allow yourself to try an adventurous nail art design.
2. Wearing shoes that hurt
We've all loved a pair of shoes so much we would do anything to wear them; we may even be willing to endure a little pain. But when your favorite stilettos are so painful you can't concentrate, your productivity will suffer, and your team will notice.
You can look great without sacrificing comfort, so save your killer stilettos for the weekend, and check out some pumps you can actually focus in.
3. Trusting the cardigan
Our favorite sweater has its place, but that place is rarely—if ever—the office. Instead of a well-worn cardigan, reach for a tailored blazer, which can be as comfortable but looks more put-together. Invest in a handful of versatile blazers to match multiple work outfits, so you'll never be caught without a coverup that's as sharp as your skills.
4. Accessorizing with noisy jewelry
Those bracelets may have been perfect in the store, but the minute you booted up your computer and logged in, the clanging of jewelry-on-desk alerted everyone in the office about your new accessory.
Avoid loud jewelry by adding "sound check" to your list of criteria before you buy bling, and opt for cuffs that hug your arms or thin personalized necklaces that don't make a sound.
5. Showing your straps
It's not fair, because straps love the spotlight, but showing straps is a major office wardrobe no-no. Whether it's your bra, camisole, or (gasp!) thong, a strap tells the business world you're too relaxed for the boardroom.
Sturdy fabrics are your saviors. Textures like tweed and wool will hold their shape, stay in place, and keep straps a secret. When trying on new work outfits, don't just stand in front of the mirror. Twist, sit, stoop, and bend to make sure your straps stay in place.
6. Sporting flashy neons
Another one of our favorite things that belongs after hours is neon colors. Remember: You can love something without needing to wear it to work.
Our advice? Solids, neutrals, and, if you're feeling wild, textures. Especially if your job is a new gig, keep your wardrobe's colors quiet until you've had a chance to gain credibility.
7. Displaying a muffin top
OK, so love handles are not fashion blunders, but an improper-fitting pant is a common faux pas that can be made by women of all sizes. For everyone's sake, don't squeeze into anything for work; if it doesn't fit, don't wear it.
The answer, of course, is a proper fit. Pair longer fitted tops with wide-leg pants that hug—not squeeze—the thighs, or opt for skinny pants in a size that doesn't look too tight.