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What is appropriate for office wear?

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Appropriate office wear depends in part on the kind of office you work in

Appropriate office wear depends in part on the kind of office you work in

The kind of office you work in will determine in large part what type of professional clothing is required. If it is a traditional and conservative setting, fishnet hose and nose rings are out. Employers want their employees to cast a professional image.

First thing, ask if there is a written dress policy for employees. You should get a clear outline of what is appropriate for office wear from your superior at work. If there is a written policy, that makes it perfectly clear what you should or shouldn’t wear. If not, look around and see what the other workers are wearing. You do not need to copy their style precisely but it gives you a guideline and idea of what is expected.

If the other employees are wearing suits, wear one. Every man should own at least one suit, preferably black. If he is going to work in an environment where suits are required, he needs to buy more. Of course, a man can change up the look of his one black suit by wearing different colored shirts and ties.

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When buying suits for work, men should opt first for black, then navy, gray, a pin-stripe and a light-colored suit for the warm weather months.

Women’s suits do not have to look boxy and masculine. In fact, they can be very pretty and feminine while also entirely appropriate for the office. Start shopping. See what is out there. A fashionable, modestly cut dress with a jacket is always an acceptable alternative to a suit.

Wearing dress pants is entirely fitting. We all have pant days. They are easier than wearing a skirt or dress. Pants keep us warm and hide a whole lot of stuff we may not want to put on display. Combine the pant with a great jacket and blouse or a beautiful sweater.


Business Casual

You may have heard the expression “business casual” but aren’t sure what it means. This refers to a style of clothing less formal than traditional business wear but still businesslike and professional.

According to GQ, men dressing in business casual should own a navy blazer, a tweed sport coat and a corduroy jacket.

A good way for women to do business causal is by wearing twin sets. This refers to a sweater set including a cardigan worn over a top or shell. Combine this with a skirt or pant and you will look pretty and perfectly suitable for the work place.

Toss on a pearl necklace and this makes you appear even more professional. If your taste is accessories is less traditional, go ahead and wear your funky stuff. If an authority figure objects (but why would they, as long as it is not a skull and crossbones) then you know you’ve gone too far. It can’t hurt to try.


Wear a blouse with an infinity scarf. The scarf provides visual interest and color and is professional looking.

Wear make-up but do not paint yourself up as if you were auditioning for Cirque du Soleil. Save the outrageous stuff for the evening.

Some employers but the kibosh on bare legs. Wear hose or tights. It no one is wearing sandals, do likewise.

Don’t douse yourself with perfume. Your co-workers may be sensitive to smells. A little dab will do you.


… showing too much skin, unless you work in an industry where this is encouraged. Do not show too much cleavage, avoid wearing tops and dresses cut extremely low in the back, do not reveal your stomach and belly ring, cover your tats as much as you can and do not reveal your feet. Flip flops are not suitable for work nor is a mini skirt that exposes far more than should be revealed in a work setting.

Stay away from clothing embellished in emblems, pictures and slogans. On the other hand, if your employer is a big fan of The Ohio State University, it is probably okay to wear OSU gear on game day but … ask first.

Use good judgment.


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