I recently joined the fellas of DivergentThought on their internet radio show to share my thoughts on workplace attire and personal image. Mr. Barrington Little, who is like my brother and good friend from college; along with Dr. Charles Thomas and Daryl Peace host DivergentThought every Wednesday from 8-9pm EST to discuss various issues and offer different points of views. Catch the replay of all the fun commentary here.
This was a great topic since I recently started a new gig myself, and you know when that happens you always question if you have the right attire for the new atmosphere. Typical advice from friends have always been to follow what everyone is doing. Well, what if your co-workers have a different style than you or if there is an age difference where your fashion choices are a bit more chic.
Check out a few workplace attire do’s and don’ts. I think the age old question that will always be asked, is what is considered professional and what is not? I think we have to go back to the question to find the answer…the key word for appropriate workplace attire is really keeping it PROFESSIONAL.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for office attire (in no particular order):
- Do start with a great foundation. When I say foundation, I mean undergarments. Shape-wear, when worn right can be a great friend. No matter your size, thin or thick, it helps to smooth out bumps and humps that we develop over time. Shape-wear does not have to be a full suit of armour that makes you feel like a stuffed kielbasa. There are tank tops to smooth out tummy rolls and thigh shorts to smooth out cellulite. There is nothing wrong them, especially if you’ve been living long enough. Also, ladies be sure that your brassiere is the proper fit for you. These foundation garments can make a huge difference when worn properly.
- Don’t be afraid to go one size up or simply put, don’t wear clothes that are too tight. It’s safe to say that whether or not your working in a creative and more eclectic atmosphere, tight clothing is just not the move no matter your size. Please save your bodycon dresses for the weekends or outside the office. Even slacks (this applies to my fellas too) that don’t allow you to bend down and pick up a pen that rolled off the desk is a no bueno. Men, suit jackets that are too tight are not a good look either. If you can’t raise your arms to stretch or give a proper handshake then you need a bigger jacket.
- Do get your clothing tailored when needed. The opposite of a suit or dress that is too tight is a suit that is too big; and looks like you borrowed it from your dad’s closet, that cannot fly. Now it can get expensive to tailor outfits but in the end it is well worth the investment to know that it fits you just the way that it should.
- Do leave your 14 inch stilettos at home. There is nothing more uncomfortable then watching someone with tall heels on, who can barely walk to the break room and back without wincing in pain. Or wearing stilettos for all of five minutes than changing to flat shoes. Moderate comfortable shoes can also be chic. There is a time and place for everything and in a professional environment you definitely want to go for comfort, which can also be chic.
- Do save your church clothes for Sunday. “Sunday’s best” does not always equate to work appropriate. Bright patterns and colors don’t always translate well. Guys, full color matching suits should be saved for your coordinating Easter photo with your family. Your green suit, tie and crocodile shoes are so not appropriate for the office.
- Do keep your low cut tops at home, this goes for everyone whether you are busty or not. When in doubt a camisole is your friend. They cost about $5 dollars at Old Navy and I own them in several colors in order to coordinate with my outfit.
- Casual Friday does not mean casual Saturday/ weekend. Some organizations allow you to wear jeans, but please leave ripped and distressed jeans for after 5. Also refer to number 3 for jeans as well. No flip flops, Ugg boots, gladiator sandals, t-shirts, or motorcycle jackets/ vest, 10 gallon cowboy hat, should not be worn on casual Fridays either. Stick to your khaki pants, loose sweaters and loafers; which offer the flexibility of still being professional and comfortable.
- Do save your Red lipstick and dramatic eyes for outside the workplace. Contouring and highlight for your 9-5 just seems a bit much. Unless your office is straight out of the Devil Wears Prada, a simple natural face with light eyes and lips should be just fine. At the end of the day what YOU have to say should speak volumes, not your make-up.
These are just a few on my list, I know I am not even scratching the surface of what is and is not appropriate for the office, but I think we have a good start. Don’t forget to check out the full conversation from DivergentThought here. I’d love to know what you think, share your thoughts in the comment section below, let’s compare notes!