Throughout my young life, I’ve have the pleasure of working in a multitude of different environments. From the publishing company where you could wear pretty much anything (no lie, people would go for a lunchtime bike ride and sit in their sweaty clothes for the rest of the day), to corporate sales where suits and stockings were the norm; it’s safe to say I’ve seen it all. Inevitably, when working with clients, especially around peak recruiting times, I always get the question(s) “is this okay to wear *enter description here*? Or “what should I wear?”
Despite my various attempts to explain in detail– with pictures mind you, some people just don’t get it. I reached out to my social media network to ask peers what are some of the worst “work” outfits they’ve ever seen and rounded up the list here. Please, please, please, never do this. Whether you’re a new grad, a seasoned pro, or somebody that works in a “cool, hip, place”—I’m talking to you Google, it is never OK to wear leggings as pants unless you’re working out or employed by Lululemon.
This one came up multiple times. Ever since fashion of the 80’s/early 90’s made a comeback in the mid-2000’s it has become more and more commonplace to find people wearing leggings as pants. If you want to do this on your leisure time, not a problem (please make sure they’re not see-through!), but at work this is never OK. Would you take
your supervisor seriously if she/he is wearing leggings and/or spandex workout pants while going over progress reports with you? The correct answer is “no”. That said, why would your boss take you seriously if you’re sporting leggings at work? Even if casual attire is encouraged, you’re pushing your luck with workout wear to actual work. Just leave it at the gym.
Too Revealing/ Too Tight/ Clothes That Don’t Fit
This was mentioned for both girls and guys. Ladies, keep your low cut tops for the weekends and guys, a deep v-neck is never attractive in an office environment. If somebody keeps looking down at your chest and not in your eyes while you’re speaking to them, that’s a bad sign. Given that selfies are all the rage, take a picture of yourself and send it to a trusted friend if you’re not sure. My personal recommendation is if you’re not sure, than you probably shouldn’t be wearing that.
Additionally, make sure your clothes fit. Something too baggy looks sloppy and something too tight… well, read between the lines. Independent tailors are generally affordable and help make you look better in the clothes you already have.
I know here in New England, especially after a long winter, the moment the thermometer hits 55 degrees people start whipping out the shorts. Even ignoring my initial reaction which is “relax, it’s March”, shorts are never appropriate even on the hottest days at the office.
I know there are certain work cultures and environments that say shorts are fine, but a few words to the wise: no gym/mesh shorts should ever be worn in a professional environment and anything that is not right about the knee (ladies, I’m talking to you) is not appropriate. Daisy Duke worked in a bar for a reason and mesh is for the gym, let’s keep it that way.
Mini Dresses/Over-the-Knee Boots
I was genuinely surprised how many people commented that this was something they saw at work. Unless you’re trying out to be the next Pretty Women, leave this look at home.
The moral of the story is common sense goes a long way. No need to don the power suit every day, but dressing well can make a positive impact on your career. Look around your office and take note of how others are dressed, especially in those positions you aspire to be one day. If you’re the outlier, it may be time for a makeover.
Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University and social media enthusiast. A Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.