By now, you guys are probably sick of hearing about how lucky I am to have a casual dress code at the office. While I can wear tees and jeans on the reg, there are some times I need to dress up – client meetings, conferences, networking events, etc. – so I always keep an eye out for business casual clothes that fit my personal style.
Finding office appropriate clothing that is true to your off-duty style can be tricky. To me, the majority of professional clothing is very basic or too buttoned-up to me for young working women, so I often turn to retailers like H&M and ASOS for professional wear, even finding some appropriate items at Forever 21 from time to time! I found this dress online from SammyDress, and wore it to a conference last week and to the office today because whatever, outfit repeating is fine and this dress has pockets — you’d outfit repeat it too. One of my colleagues actually has the same dress and wore it a few weeks ago!
I’ve written before about maintaining your personal style at the office before (here and here), but that was nearly a year ago and my taste has definitely evolved since then, so I figured I’d bring back some of my pointers and add some fresh takes in!
- You can still wear patterns: I like to describe my style as a bit boho, and although the shift dress I’m wearing above is a conservative cut, the floral pattern still ties back to something I’d wear outside of the office. Polka dots, stripes, chevron, tweed, geometric, and even some novelty print items are all okay for the office! Stick to more muted color palettes to make the pattern more toned down for the office.
- Stacked and block heels are bae: Stiletto heels look amazing when paired with professional attire, but we all know those spiky heels aren’t comfortable for a 9-hour work day. The more surface area your heel has, the more weight the shoe will take off of the balls of your feet, making it easier to wear heels until it’s time to slip on your commuting sneaks or sandals
- The fingertip test: Did that phrase just make you cringe and think of your high school days? I still swear by it. For those of you who don’t know, the fingertip test is if you put your arms down by your sides, your skirt should fall below your fingertips, or else it’s too short and you’ll get sent home or have to put on your gym sweatpants. In all seriousness though, it is a good test. If you’re not sure that your skirt passes it – layer your look with some tights.
- Sky-high heels: This one is tricky, because some people think that heels over 3 inches are unprofessional, but I don’t abide by that rule. I think that as long as you can elegantly walk in your heels, you should rock them in your client meeting. Teetering and tottering on your way to the conference room is more unprofessional than some added height.
- Leggings as pants: Some people think this is a major faux pas, but I think that this can be done tastefully and do ofter wear leggings in the winter. Rule of thumb, your butt should be covered by your sweater or tunic and if you bend over your leggings better not be see through. Don’t you dare pair them with sneakers though or else you’re crossing the line to athleisure.
- Arms above the head test: I love a good crop top, but this is not okay at work. I do the arms above my head test if I’m wearing a shirt on the shorter side – if I raise my arms above my head and my stomach shows, then it goes back in the closet. (Except for that time I wore a crop to to my office holiday party…oops.)
- Ripped jeans: This can also be tricky. I wear ripped jeans at least once a week, but again, my office is SUPER casual. Unless you’re a creative firm, I’d probably steer clear of these. If you do try it out, don’t go full-on shredded. Try slight distress marks or minimal rips at the knees, but keep the rest of your outfit slightly more polished if you’re unsure if your office allows this.
- Open-toe shoes and sandals: This might be veering into one of my personal pet-peeves, but if you’re going to go for open-toe, make sure your feet are taken care of, por favor. You don’t need a fresh pedi, but if your nail polish is peeling off, maybe opt for booties.
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