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DO’s and DON’Ts for your office look

Top or Flop for your Office Looks?

Today Styles4Work is presenting you six dressing rules for the office. Even though business dress codes are not as strict as they used to be and partly even overlap, there are still a few timeless and universal rules which you should know and follow when dressing for the office. The fact that rules are loosening up does not make your office styling easier, in some ways it becomes even harder. Styles4Work supports you in being the best version of yourself, a wonderful working woman!

The Styles4Work top 6 rules for your best office look

1. The Length of your Hem

A working skirt (or dress for that matter) should always play fairly around your knees. Anything shorter than that is unsuitable for a working girl and should wait for the club night on Fridays or for your next holidays. However, the skirt also shouldn’t be ankle-length, unless it is the trendy midi-length, that very quickly looks boring, a bit dowdy and is not easy to style smartly. Whether your hem ends just above your knee or just below, is totally your own taste and choice, it just should end around your knee. The cut of your skirt is very much depending on your body shape – please also see the Styles4Work body shape adviser – pencil, A-cut, wide or pleated skirt or wrapped – any version is possible and leaves you confident and perfectly styled for the office. Please find inspiration for every possible style: Business Skirts and Business Dresses.

2. Neckline

The same rule applies for plunging necklines, it should never be to deep. That always is rather flop than top for the office. This is also significant for spaghetti straps and cropped tops. Even a shirt with the one missing button is unbusinesslike. Hence, anything which shows too much skin should be avoided. Too much skin leaves a flop impression in any business and deflects attention away from actual topics. Even in a hot summer this is valid. The only alternative suitable on a hot day is spaghetti straps, but JUST with a jacket on top. Everything else doesn’t qualify for business and might leave you more embarrassed than confident. Here Styles4Work shows you adequate ideas for business tops, business knit tops, business blouses and business shirts.

3. Colours

Absolutely no objects we do have to colours! With colours you can play wonderfully: almost everything works! Just try to combine your favourite ones as long as they match and you don’t take too many colours at once, after all you don’t want to look like a parrot… But a bright steel blue outfit, e.g. like shown in the picture, is very effective, it looks young and fresh but still very respectable. Even outfits in yellow or red work very well to give your business look just the little twist it needs. The only exception for colours: Neon (so 80ies disco-style anyway) and a too wild pattern. Those are only suitable for the very creative office floors, otherwise better used on a fun fancy dress party. Except for this rule, be free to play around with colours! Especially on a grey autumn day or a “bad hair day” (which we all know and have) colour can be very distractive and sweeten up your day – give it a try!

4. Fabric and Materials

For your office fashion always choose the natural versions like wool, cotton, cashmere and silk. Natural materials are soft, smooth and flatter around your body without being too tight. They stay fresh and smart all day, because they are breathable. Yet, be sure the material is crease-resistant. Therefore pick mixed materials, which are composed of at least 50% naturals but partly also of e.g., stretch, polyamide or viscose. Of course, the quality of the material is also crucial! Be careful with chunky knit, this is a business flop and belongs in front of the fireplace on a cosy evening not in your office. Moreover it always looks bulky. A pure linen is also not recommendable, its terribly creasy and always a bit stiff around your body. Whereas we very much recommend a fine knit like Merino or cashmere which works incredibly well for business. A lot of working women even prefer fine knit to shirts or blouses, because they are easy to clean and barely creasing, a fact also helpful for travelling.

About jeans we have to say, they are wonderful, without a question, but mostly only in your free time! On a management level you should completely abandon them, unless you happen to run a start-up. Even if your office dress code is formal or semi-formal, jeans are not an option. Even though you now occasionally see jeans in combination with a blazer, blouse and pumps in some offices, they are still always casual or creative and tend to appear unprofessional. In any case avoid wholes, stickers and used or distressed looks, the jeans should never look like a jeans… If you can, choose black or white. Styles4Work clearly recommends dress trousers – there are so many wonderful dress trousers made from wool, mixed material or cotton (keyword chinos!) with different cuts and waistlines! You will find lots of business suitable ideas on business trousers which will make your choice easy.

5. Correct Fit

Office clothes should be smooth but not too tight. Your clothes should have enough tolerance to play around your body, your underwear should NEVER be seen, neither bra or slip, this is a total no-go, even in most creative business. When in doubt, choose a t-shirt-bra. In case your blouse is so tight that it is about to burst, it is time for a size bigger or a different cut! Same applies for skirts or trousers which fit so tight and deep that half of your bottom is to be seen or, probably even worse, presents your muffin hips – please try to avoid that by going for a higher waistline and a fitting size, you can only do yourself a favour. By the way, a little bit of a loose fit in your clothes is more comfortable on a tiring office day anyway.

6. Shoes

The height of your heel depends on your personal preferences, some women can go on forever on a high heel, for others the reached limit is already after a couple of hours.  The limit height for a “comfortable” heel is 8,5 cm and this is also the limit for business.  If you go higher than 8,5 cm you will find yourself rather quickly in a Friday night outfit than in an appropriate office outfit. Moreover, there are lots of beautiful classic pumps on offer with a heel of 5-6 cm and, believe us, 2,5 cm less can really make a difference on the long run. Another office no-go are plateau soles, they should sleep in your wardrobe until the next evening out. The only exception here are inner plateau soles, especially smaller women really like those. Wedges are more for casual or creative dress codes, in which case you can go even a little higher, or for holidays. Overknees boots are absolutely and totally NOT businesslike.  Whereas we do recommend pumps in black and nude or beige with a maximum height of 5 cm. They are comfortable, carry you through a long day, are convenient for your daily life and still work nicely for evening events!

Yet again, with colours you can set focus very easily, also in shoes. Why not wear a pair of green or purple pumps with a classical suit? You can match it perfectly with a handbag and belt in a similar or even the same colour –  immediately your business look turns fresh, personal and elegant and yet, stays serious enough. Patent shoes are more difficult though, the only colour option is black, any other colour is inappropriate.
Ballerinas are much better than their reputation is and are seen more and more in business outfits these days. Depending on the chosen model they go with almost every style. The Styles4Work top tip: always carry a pair of flats in your office bag, so you are prepared if your day is going to be longer than expected or you have to stand up a lot. Unfortunately, sneakers still only work in very creative business fields, everywhere else they are not very popular. In case you wear them, choose real leather and understated colours. For adjustment you should balance the rest of your outfit very businesslike, e.g. with a typical suit in sober colours.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add?

We would love to get your comments and feedback on this! Share your experiences with us. We look forward to hear from you!