How to Dress to Work
If you don’t work in a place where they assign a specific uniform day in and day out, it can leave you standing in front of your closet, trying to find something cute, but work-appropriate to wear.
Even if you have to wear a specific outfit, you can dress it up with different shoes, hair ties and jewelry, and makeup to not look like everyone else. (Provided they allow it.) Some jobs have strict requirements on what, if any, jewelry you are allowed to wear, how much makeup, and your hair pinned up, vs. if you can wear it down.
Sexy stilettos are usually a no-no. You should opt for something fashionable, but functional to wear to work, especially if you are going to be on your feet a lot. Ankle boots, knee high boots, or even Ked slip-ons in a dark color to match your outfits are often a better choice for a more formal setting.
Before you get started and throw outfits together, grab a copy of your code of conduct from your job and look through their dress code rules. This will give you the basic outline for what you can wear. We will give you some work ideas here, but not all of them will fit every dress code, so make sure you know what you can wear at work before putting your outfits together.
Some offices don’t really care what you wear, as long as you get the job done, in that case, that Hello Kitty sweatshirt you were eyeing last night, is fine, paired with those cute rhinestone jeans in white… but in most places, they require slacks, skirts, and some kind of professional looking top without cleavage or skin showing. Avoid crude saying or pictures on your clothing, even if your office doesn’t care, a customer might, and unless you’re in a cubicle where no one ever sees you, save those for your own time.
A casual dress code generally means whatever you feel like wearing. (Within reason, don’t dress up in a bikini to go to work, unless of course you work in a bikini bar.) This may include being able to wear sweats and yoga pants, sneakers, sandals, or shorts and tank tops instead of a more professional looking outfit. Do make sure your outfits are clean, stain free, and don’t need any holes or seems repaired though… casual doesn’t mean sloppy.
Also – keep in mind that if you ever attend meetings, wear a more formal outfit on those days out of respect for your employers or clients, and fellow work-mates.
Business casual dress codes are a couple steps more formal then casual wear. This means leave your jeans and sandals in your closet, and your gym clothes in your gym bag. This usually means clothes like pencil skirts, blazers, fitted sweaters that look reasonably but not overly dressy, vests, nicer quality shoes and stylish jewelry/and a watch. You might not be required to wear a suit/tie or look like you’re about to enter a courtroom as a high powered lawyer.
That brings us to the next one, a business formal dress code, where you WOULD be required to dress like a fancy lawyer about to enter a courtroom. I think this speaks for itself. You would be expected to wear a suit, minimal jewelry, with your hair neat and tidy, and functional shoes that don’t draw unwanted and unnecessary attention to your legs. If you are required to dress like this, usually the job isn’t about how cute your red high heels are, and you need to leave a good feeling in your employer’s mind about you, and your clients.
Avoid fake eyelashes, glitter, and sparkles. You want people to focus on their job, and let you focus on yours. Don’t try to wear intense perfumes either. Work is usually about keeping it subtle and focusing on your getting your job done well. Here are some outfits you can wear to work.
- Sweater dress.
For a casual, or business casual attire, a sweater dress with a belt and cute high-heel shoes work. Hair up or down with minimal jewelry is a nice tasteful way to look cute and stylish, while also not drawing any unwanted attention to yourself. Keep the makeup neutral, with pale lips, and mascara and liner.
- Pencil skirt.
A cute blouse and a pencil skirt is the perfect amount of dressy if you aren’t required to wear a suit or blazer to work. A ruffled blouse with buttons adds some flair, and makes it so you don’t need to wear a necklace to dress up the outfit. Bracelets are a good choice though, or a gold/silver watch. Keep the shoes functional, black pumps are a good choice, and always a useful thing to have in your closet.
- Cutely professional.
A long sleeved sweater tucked into a flirty pleated skirt work with hair up or down. This look lets you feel cute white still being professional. Pair it with an overcoat for a more professional look.
If you must wear high heels, pairing it with some flared khaki pants, a cute dark sleeveless blouse and earrings is a good way to go about getting away with higher heels. The blouse might be more conservative than what you see in the photo, but you get the idea. If you wear a lighter shirt, wear darker pants to offset so you don’t look like a solid colored blob.
- Little black dress.
If you absolutely want to wear a dress to work, consider a style like this. It’s generally best to make sure it goes past your finger tips, or almost to your knees. If you are exceptionally long-legged, make sure to wear tights or leggings. You can also add some silver or gold jewelry to have the outfit pop a little, and while red lips might feel great, at work, red lips can be distracting, so go for a more subtle color.
If you want a slightly less formal looking dress, having fun print on your dress is a good way to go about it. Make sure cleavage is properly covered, and that you wear appropriate work shoes. You can pair it with some fun earrings or a simple necklace.
- Strictly professional.
You can also try a high-necked pencil-dress with a belt around the waist. Get one with a unique neckline to add flair to the outfit. You can dress it up with cute shoes, and jewelry to offset the simplicity of the dress. Pencil skirts and dresses is something that should be in every woman’s business wardrobe. You can have a variety of shades and styles, but you can never go wrong with black or grey (depending on your skin tone). If you are not sure what exactly to choose, Jessica’s from Suits wardrobe will definitely help you with that.
Never underestimate the power of plaid. You can find them in blazers, vests, and even dresses. Plaid shoes are even cute with most semi-casual business attire. Grey scarves are a good choice with most black or white attire too. The nice thing about plaid is it looks great with a smoky eye makeup and slightly darker lips.
To switch it up, pantsuits. They work great with a variety of shoes, you can pair them with blazers, vests, sweaters, or cute blouses. Add chunky necklaces without losing any of your professionalism and they look good with hair up, down, or short bobs. They will always scream feminine due to the style and cut of the clothes and you can get away with a little more intense lipstick.
- Office trendsetter.
Simple and elegant is often the best work attire. You can look stylish, and add accessories without over-doing it. If you pick a dress or skirt that’s shorter, make sure you wear leggings or tights under it. Knee high boots always look good, and you can pair it with a simple necklace, ring, watch or bracelet. Sometimes less is more though, so for an outfit like this, keep it simple.