“We see too many women coming to work wearing inappropriate things.” I’ve heard this multiple times from female professionals and HR managers in a variety of industries.
Part of the problem is the advice fashion magazines, designers, retailers and bloggers publish claiming non-traditional styles to be the “new office attire” in an effort to be fresh and exciting. I’m busting some of these recommendations now with “What NOT to Wear To Work.” Note: Heed office dress codes, your corporate culture and regional influences like weather. Work clothes/accessories are worth a higher investment as they help you reach your career goals and give you leg up (pun intended) on the competition.
Visible Cleavage, Midriff or Thighs
This is the most common complaint I hear from employers. After surveying AICI image consultants from eight countries (including four U.S. regions), all said that visible cleavage, midriffs and thighs are inappropriate for professional settings. Except the California consultant who specified “micro-minis” for the skirt length. If you have a skirt you love that’s hitting more than 2″ above the knee, grab a pair of tights for a modest touch. Bare arms/legs are more acceptable in business casual or warm climate regions. Unless being sexy or trendy is part of your job description, leave the leg-bombs and plunging necklines at home.
Opt for feminine silhouettes and fitted suiting to show-off your feminine side.
Fabric choices are just as important. Lace, mesh, laser cut-outs, and sheer garments that show undergarments or the mid-section (stomach or back) are called boudoir fabrics for a reason. With the proper lining and/or layering pieces you can pull it off, but err on the side of conservative. Sometimes those pesky bra straps won’t behave. Fashion tape to the rescue! If your underwear shows when you sit down, then the pants or skirt sits too low on your hips or your underwear are too high. Adjust accordingly. Removing undergarments is not a wise solution 🙂
In summer months, opt for comfortable linings, breathable fabrics (natural fibers) or wicking fabrics. Light colors will also keep you cooler.
I love statement jewelry and all things sparkly. However, there’s nothing more distracting during a phone call or meeting than the “clink clink clink” of someone’s jewelry. Suddenly, that’s all you hear. And that’s all clients hear, too, especially if you’re an animated communicator or are typing in group situations. Be sure to check your talking bling at the door or take off the offending piece. Elastic, leather and fabric bracelets are quieter when stacking. Bypass stacking with a multi-tiered or textured bracelet or cuff.
Kitchen Sink Tote
Bulging. Overflowing. Unzipped. Swallows phones and keys in a single drop. It’s the tote that needs to go on a diet. We’ve all seen one or carried one– trying in vain to find a spot for it at the lunch counter or conference table. Not only does it give the air of mental mayhem, but the weight and scale of these bags are bad for both the spine and the silhouette.
Tip: Store a clutch (with ID, credit card, cash, keys, phone, lipstick) inside of a structured tote. The tote carries the clutch, tablet, pens, business card case, maybe a pair of flats, breath mints, pill box, and tote hook. Toss receipts or store them in a thin makeup case w/miscellaneous items. Going to lunch or happy hour? Snag the clutch and leave the tote in the office or trunk. Going to a meeting? Keep the clutch stored in the tote so you can easily shake hands and appear neat and low maintenance. This is also a convenient and comfortable way to travel by plane (check in anything that doesn’t fit under the seat).
Try neutral totes that will work with most of your outfits. Navy, metallic, and olive can fall into this category.
If you’re ready to create a Signature Style that says who you are and where you’re going, please contact me. I’m happy to help!
Thea Wood Austin’s Signature Stylist 512.217.9869 “Because You’re Going Places”