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Navigating Office Dress Codes

Office dress codes can be pretty difficult to navigate, and knowing what’s suitable for the office, without falling asleep or getting fired (it can happen) feels almost impossible. If you don’t work for a company or in an environment that promotes individuality, or the open interpretation of the latest fashion trends, then chances are; getting dressed in the morning will become a frustrating task. Outfit inspiration is one thing, but actually knowing what to wear, is another.

 

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Standing before your closet, panicking, repeatedly asking yourself; can I wear my jeans or can’t I? You love-hate your sweats and you just wish you could go to work in your pajamas, after all, it’s a trend now, right? Your confusion turns to hate and your hate into heat, now you’re hot and late but still not clothed.  This results in hauling your ‘back-end’ into super speed, throwing on whatever clothes fit, whatever is close by and clean. Shoes that fit, sometimes even ones that don’t – a smorgasbord of things that make you happy and hopefully make a cohesive outfit.

How do you adhere to rules, yet clothe yourself in a way that works for your body, for your lifestyle and your personal taste? A professional setting solicits a certain attire, but it doesn’t have to be boring, and corporate clothing can sometimes carry an air of sleepiness or worse; put unwarranted restraint on our ability to clothe ourselves. But we shouldn’t let it hinder our creativity and self-expression.

A woman who works five days a week has to come up with two-hundred and fifty-one outfits a year. That excludes weekends and champagne-worthy occasions. If you’re fashion forward, you’ll understand how much extra stress this puts on you, because, of course, you need to be the best dressed you, all year round! Covered, comfortable, muted and professional are all words that come to mind when you hear ‘office attire’, but corporate wear isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

 

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Different companies, and different job titles require different ‘uniforms’. If you work in the medical field or you’re looking to work in the medical field, take notes now; you will wear a uniform to work. This always sound really bad, like the words ‘back to school’ after the summer holidays, but come Monday morning as I stare blankly at my cupboard I wish I was putting on my grade school uniform.

Another bonus to wearing a work uniform is a major saving on clothing and you can avoid landing in major debt. If you feel good about yourself you’ll be more productive. It’s something about the boost of confidence that improves your work ethic. So, it’s important to feel great when at work, that’s why taking a few extra minutes, to get yourself ready for the day, is not frowned upon.

But, no matter what your company does, or what their dress code is, your outfit should not be subject to figure flattery or what the male gaze might call sexy (secretary sexy), but should rather say “I am a professional, stylish woman, with a killer sense of personal style – thank you”. You may not make the rules but you do have a sense of creativity and a sense of identity worth celebrating, despite the context. It’s about pushing your boundaries, not breaking them.

Here are a few tips to help you rock your work attire every day.

 

Small Adjustments

Tiny styling adjustments will transform your outfit from shabby to chic with only minor adjustments. Except the popped collar, there is no room for more fashion failures in the office. But rolled jeans or all the way button shirts are the perfect example.

 

Keep it Personal

Remember to keep it personal. Don’t be afraid to add your own personal style touches. This will make you automatically feel better about whatever it is you’re wearing. If you can resonate with certain pieces, it will immediately put a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

 

Accessories

Accessories are the perfect way to make your outfit feel good enough for the office and for after work drinks. The right sunnies, some oversized earrings, a couple of sparkling necklaces, or a few mood rings, will make you feel like there was enough thought and effort that went into your outfit. Which is enough to wear everywhere and anywhere – including work.

 

Bland isn’t Bad

There is nothing boring about navy, white, grey and black. Although looking at that sentence alone makes me feel a little flat. It’s all about how you pair them. Mix and match textures and prints in these colours and feel safe knowing you’re adhering to the rules, while being unapologetically fashionable.

 

Don’t be Scared

Knowing your dress code may be daunting . I am sure the link to the code of conduct has been emailed to you a thousand times. But you’re still unsure of what it said or if you even received it. Knowing the rules and regulations of your dress code, will allow you to bend them in a way that benefits you and your sense of style. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. If you’re going to spend two-hundred and fifty-one days working, you may as well feel good while doing it!

 

What do you think of office dress codes? How do you dress for the office?

 

•Collaborative post.

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20 responses

  1. Oh gosh, it’s been ages since I had to worry about office dress codes 🙂 I think I had key outfits like good tops, slacks and blazers. Dull I know, but it worked for me 🙂

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