21 June 2012

Office Appropriate?

Do you ladies believe in the old adage of "dressing for the job you want?" 

That just because we may be an entry-level so-and-so or happen to work in a casual environment, it doesn't mean we should be wearing jeans and tees to the office each day. Some people may consider it sloppy or think you're complacent. Stacy and Clinton have pounded that message into our psyche episode after episode, haven't they - because who would want to promote a lady who wears tube tops and velour sweat pants to the office into a managerial position where people may actually see her?

blues

I've always worked in a fairly corporate white-collar environment, so it had been pounded in my head since my intern years to "look appropriate." Sure, this meant cheap poly-blend Joyce Leslie suits at the get-go, but I've always tried to fit in and had the thought that because I was the newbie, I had more to prove. So I had to show them what I could do and physically look like I am a part of the company.

A few years ago I moved to the SW for a job with a tech company. The environment was really casual - shorts and Birks, people! But I worked as part of the sales and marketing team and we always dressed to impress - because who knew when we've have to see a customer or vendor at the drop of a hat? And though it wasn't meant to, "dressing up" made everyone else in the company see us in a different light - partly cocky who-do-they-think-they-are gruumblings for sure, but also we were the department everyone wanted to be in. Clarity: Dressing up meant dressing in "business casual" garb - we weren't rolling around in prom dresses and tuxes, haha.

blues  blues

I work in a different place now, in a pretty small regional office now so I know well in advance when higher ups will be stopping by or if I need to take a client out. I am more free to dress the way I want, though of course I keep things still office appropriate (no super-short hems too much bare skin, nothing that can't get immediately dressed up with a blazer). I'm not sure if I am still dressing for the job I want anymore because, well frankly, I know what the higher-ups do and I'm honestly not that interested.

I know everyone's fields and work environments are different, so I'd love to know what you think. Do you struggle at all with what to wear in the office? Do you find yourself compromising on your personal style to be appropriate to your work environment?

blues

Blazer: Coquille by Anthropologie cobbled lanes (worn here - sim, sim, sim)
Top: J.Crew fanfare (worn here - sim, -ish, pricey)
Skirt: F21 fitted knit (worn here - sim, sim, sim)
Necklace: Elizajay Charm via Etsy (worn here - sim)
Bracelets: J.Crew via Ebay, Old Navy (sim, sim, sim, pricey)
Brooch: Lilywinkel via Etsy (sim)
Shoes: Sofft ramona II (worn here - sim, sim, pricey)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

There's still time to submit your pics for the next Respect the Outfits reader feature! This time we're showcasing your outfit Favorites! For more details, go to the original post here.

56 comments:

  1. Hey there,
    yeah, I definitely think about this. I'm a journalist, and if I want to be on air, I really shouldn't dress the way I dress - sometimes a little crazy, sometimes very casual - because if I want to be on air, I need to always be wearing a blazer, and every single hair better be in place, in fact I probably shouldn't even have long hair. But I've kind of stopped being rigid about that, especially since I started blogging, because the actual joy of dressing creatively is more fun than the possibility that I'll land that "dream job". Hmmm....

    xoxo
    ~Natasha Fatah~
    ~Natasha Fatah~

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  2. I am currently sitting on the train reading this wearing a j crew t shirt and shorts and bed stu boat shoes (no socks) on my way into work. I work in a super casual environment and never have to worry about dressing up... Although, I do admit I am slacking off big time and wish I took a little more time in the morning to get ready.

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  3. Love your outfit! Fab. :) But I've always been a fan of blues, so no surprise there!
    So I do believe in dressing for the job you want, but like everything, take with a grain of salt. Like, when you're starting out at the bottom and you want to be a CEO, it'd be kinda weird to dress in a full suit every day, right?
    I work in a pretty laid-back office, but it's still corporate, so I'm conscious of what I wear, especially when my boss always dresses well. Doesn't seem to apply to some people though...I've seen some pretty interesting stuff lately. Like beachwear. I'm thinking, cute, but in the office? No.

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    1. Is it weird that I think it is weird when I see my big-wig corporate higher ups dressed down? Like if I run into them at a hotel if we're having a conference or something and they are in shorts and a tee or something - I'm mentally like, that ain't right! ;o)

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  4. Love your chic blue and red combo! It seems offices are becoming more and more casual....appropriate to me means nothing too tight, short, torn, or revealing!

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  5. This is my absolute favorite outfit of yours. I love red and blue together. I absolutely try to dress for the job I want, but you're right that it can be hard to balance professionalism with personal style. Usually what it means for me is structured pieces, and "put together" outfits in bold colors and prints. Other teachers wear flip flops, cargo pants, etc. I might never wear my cat-print dress to work if I become an administrator, but there's no reason I can't keep the cobalt blazer!

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    1. I don't know, you could probably pull off a cat print dress as an administrator if you paired it with a power blazer and some killer this-isn't-a-joke heels! ;o)

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  6. I'm lucky. As a college prof, I must avoid jeans & micro minis, but other than that anything goes!

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  7. I'm often mistaken for someone in position much higher than myself, and I'm okay with that. I find that dressing up for work makes me feel good about ME. I also think that people I work with take me more seriously than my counterparts who show up in faded jeans and a Packer t-shirt. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not me. It never has been. Every office is different and while we don't have a written dress code, I don't think wearing flip flops to work just because you CAN makes it alright.

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    1. I'm with you - ultimately dressing nicer just makes me feel better about Me! Shoot, that's partly why I started this blog.

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  8. I am a little older and I do have the job I want and I just wear what I like. My office is pretty casual and even our CEO does not wear a suit or tie. Most man are in chinos and button downs and women wear everything in between. From jeans and t-shirts to skirt suits but I would say most are in slacks and some kind of nice top with some jewelry. I like clothes and I tend to be one of the more dressed up but frankly, in my experience, I don;t see the relationship of how you dress and who is getting promoted, unless you are extremely unappropriate. Many most professionally looking women are in low level positions and many sloppy dressers are VPs.

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  9. My first office job was white-collar dress code. Men had to wear suits (not blazer, but suit), women had to wear nylons and closed-toe shoes. So, as a young 19-year-old I got a 2nd job at a clothing store to afford my fancy-office dress code. Ten years later, I work in a government office that is considerably more relaxed. Meaning, we can wear jeans on Fridays during the summer IF we don't have meetings and IF no "important people" are expected in the office and IF we aren't going to the Capitol Bldg for any reasons whatsoever. I tend to dress up more than most of my colleagues, and I'm fine with that. Coincidentally, I was also one of only 2 people in my company to get a raise + cost of living increase (most just got the COL increase)...always dress for the job you want, or the pay-scale you want.

    xox

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    1. High five on the raise - and to no more nylons!

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  10. I should add that I am in MIS and I mostly worked for software/tech companies, so that may be the culture, it is probably different when you are in law/sales/marketing/advertising or anything facing external clients.

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    1. One of my old VPs was female and from the IT industry and she was veeeeeeeeeery casual. Actually, sometimes borderline sloppy if she had a lot going on. BUT she was also one of the sharpest and smartest people I've ever had the honor of working for. Her work ethic was also pretty much to do Anything and Everything to get the job done regardless of sacrificing evenings or weekends or whatever - so style was understandably in the back burner for her.

      And shoot, our company president had been known to wear shorts with white sneaks and athletic socks pulled up - so there was always that too.

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  11. I work in an office that's pretty casual (I can wear jeans) and I have a lot of co-workers that dress rather inappropriately (tube tops, snakeskin leggings, lots of cleavage showing etc). There's no room here for me to advance, so I don't feel the need to wear anything more than business casual, especially since I'm already dressed more appropriately than many people here.

    -Sharon
    The Tiny Heart

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    1. Snakeskin leggings - for realz?! I thought there was an age limit on those kind of clothes, plus aren't they only allowed out in public after 6pm? ;o)

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  12. Good topic Lisa. I am actually contemplating this notion all the time. I work in a fairly casual law office and I can get away with a lot. My predecessors all wore jeans and tees everyday. So in a way, I am more dressed up than they were. However, sometimes I wonder if I might cross the line a smidge--never with something inappropriate in the way of hemlines or cleavage (well, if I had any cleavage), but with bold bright colors or a look that others might consider "out there". In the end, though, I am the only paralegal here. I have job security and I am good at my job. And I have a fairly open relationship with my boss, so I know he would tell me if I was ever crossing the line for real. Plus, he is a Europe enthusiast so I have been told by him that he actually appreciates my style. ;-)

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    1. Lady, I think your looks are work-appropriate but still very much You.

      (Yeah, I've never had to worry about that whole "too much cleavage" thing myself ... hahah-ugh)

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  13. The inventor of "office casual" or "casual Fridays" has a lot to answer for. I agree that for women, thighs, cleavage, and over-elaborate make-up simply don't belong in any workplace unless you're a lap dancer. But who ever thought we'd be entranced by the sight of guys with top-heavy tummy bulging in a too-tight polo shirt (but it has a collar!), by droopy wrinkled khakis, by your frat beer pong contest tee, by a baseball jacket whose zipper last closed in 1987? Men .

    That said, when my sister supervised a group of clericals who regularly wore housedresses (with snaps) or track suits to the office, she was astounded when they requested Casual Fridays, and barely managed not to say "so you can show up in your pajamas?" Of course they just about did, and then when the office moved her department to another floor... well, on the last move, many files had gone missing, all said to be because of the packers, and so she told the staff that this time they'd pack their own files. The packing was to take place on a Friday and, yup, they asked to wear something other than their "work clothes." Sis and I agreed that while this was absurd on one level, on another level, it was sad that these women were so oblivious to how they looked and had never even wanted to look better or wondered where looking better might take them.

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    1. Oh why does no one ever mention anything about clothes being ill-fitting?! You're so right - I've seen way too much of my share of men who are "appropriately dressed" except their trousers are about two sizes too big but for some reason their shirts resemble smediums.

      And wha-what? House dresses? Like out in public? Shoot, I'll put on real (granted crappy) clothes even to just walk my dog at the crack of dawn.

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  14. Great post! I am currently job hunting and wondering how my colourful and fun style will work within the confines of an office. I will die if I am expected to wear stuffy suits and neutrals! Your work looks are always fun though, polished yet quirky and fun :-)

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    1. I think there's a lot of room to play in being work appropriate. I agree, if I worked in a very conservative field where I had to do the whole "dark suit, hose" bit, this may be a very different blog. ;o)

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  15. I definitely fell victim to dressing too casually at my current job a while back. I dressed more business casual when I first started but everyone else dressed suuuuper casual. So I started slipping & dressing more & more casually as well. In the winter I would even wear my ugly Uggs under jeans sometimes!! The horror!! Right around when I started my blog I decided I didn't care what the norm around the office was, I wanted to look nicer. I had also recently been moved to sit at the front desk so having to greet people who came in I wanted to look more presentable. It took a while but I definitely started a trend among the ladies in my office & now everyone seems to make more of an effort every morning. I think it's nice! Even though we hardly ever have anyone to be presentable for, why can't we still look and feel nice at work?!

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    1. This is not the exact quote, but I remember Rachel Zoe was asked once during an interview on what she thought about being over-dressed. Her response was something along the lines of what's the worst that can happen? You end up being the best-dressed person in the room?

      Granted I am not dressed to the nines at all times or anything, but if I happen to look nicer than people in the office one day, then Alrighty. ;o)

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  16. The outfit is lovely, I love the necklace so much!

    http://hippiechicpao.blogspot.com

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  17. I feel like you're in my head sometimes, Lisa. When I worked at Anthro years ago we weren't allowed to wear jeans and we needed to be dressed appropriately didn't need to be Anthro items but just be aesthetically Anthro like. One particular employee dressed a little too provocative, her shirts are always too tight and too low and whenever she had to bend down at the cash wrap she was basically flashing everyone. She was really sweet and at first I tried to get her to cover up asking her if she has a sweater she can put on or remind her that the skirt needs to be a little longer after our conversation she would say she understands and will cover up but I had to write her up the same week because she was back wearing a similar outfit. The week after being written up we were wearing together again and customer complained to me about her shirt and I had to send her home. From there on she always had a cardigan with her which proves that she didn't totally change her style just tweaked it to the point that no one was offended. We started posting pictures of examples of proper Anthro attire at work taking pictures of employees trying on new merchandise or employees wearing their own clothes that are Anthro approved. We used to say this is not Urban so we needed to be put together more, layering and accessorizing is the key. Now it seems like anything goes at Anthro more relaxed. I saw an employee just wearing shorts and a t shirt with Keds which would've been a big no no back in my time and you're most likely be okay wearing that if you paired it with cute wedges or a layering piece. it's about aesthetics and what your customers would want to be inspired to wear.

    I've always dressed up for the position I want which was great once I started working for a venture capital firm and we didn't have casual Fridays but I got laid off. My other job after that was at a search engine company and the CEO is from NZ and whenever he visited our office he was in shorts and Birks. Now I'm starting a new job back at a VC firm and they are more relaxed vs the other VC firm I worked at and now I'm rethinking my clothes. Your outfit is something I would wear at work and feel totally comfortable in and I don't wear suits but my clothes are considered more corporate than business casual. I do like the option to be able to wear jeans but I don't think I'll be changing my style much. Either jeans or pencil skirts it's all accepted and it just means I can wear 90% of my clothes to work just depends on how I feel that day. I'll be starting tomorrow so I'll be posting more OOTD now that I actually have somewhere to go everyday and not just hang out with the dogs and lay out by the pool.

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    1. Congrats on the new job! Good luck with your first day.

      I think at retailers like Anthro (or even J.Crew) where they are also selling a lifestyle along with the clothes, it is part of an SA's job to "look the part." Most of Anthro's pieces are rather unique so it is always interesting to see how people can mix and match them together to put together a look with a certain aesthetic. Shoot, I'd feel weird walking into J.Crew if all the SA's were just wearing plain tees and beige khakis - that's not really help to sell the brand.

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  18. cute top and skirt! Love the punches of red.

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  19. all of my office jobs have been business casual. as the week goes on i tend to get more casual. today i have on a silk blouse, red tory burch flats and dark tailored skinnies. mon tues wed are usually pencil skirts or slacks with button downs.
    btw, i'm totally jealous of your fanfare shirt.

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    1. I totally think it is possible to dress casually but still be office appropriate. At my old job, I wore jeans sometimes, but always made sure they were dark and not ratty, and paired it with a nice blouse or sweater and some nice shoes. I have to admit I've worn flip flips into the office before - now that was probably a little too cas!

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  20. I have this conundrum with myself everyday! I work in a pretty casual environment and I worry what others will think if all of a sudden I wore a blazer and nice pants. I am not a higher up, so I don't need to dress like that, but I would prefer to do so. No one wants those comments like "What? Do you have an interview or something today?" I find myself in the morning putting outfits together in my head and turning them down because they are “too nice”. Weird!

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    1. That is partly why I never wear a full suit, I almost always wear a blazer with a different colored skirt or pants - I want to be appropriate when needed, but I don't want people heckling me, asking if I have an interview or funeral or some sort of nonsense like that!

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  21. Cute look! http://www.natalyascloset.com/

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  22. I work in the environment industry so a lot of people dress super casual. Some a little "tree hugger" if you know what I mean. But I still like to dress up a bit because I want to present myself as someone who takes their job seriously. The good thing is, I don't necessarily have to have a "work" wardrobe and a "weekend" wardrobe which I like. Anyway, long story short, it doesn't take much to dress well at my job. You look sophisticated as always :)

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    1. I'm definitely apt to spend more on pieces that can do double duty for work or play. Blazers in fun colors are my "weakness"!

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  23. I'm a huge believer in dressing for the job you want because appearance is everything and if you're not dressed to match the company's culture then you might feel left out; with that been said it doesn't mean one should dress without a care in the world..There are ways to be casual but appropriate for any work environment...

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  24. love the blue and red accent:)

    Smile On:)...Classy Pam

    http://classypam.blogspot.com

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  25. Love the pop of red... I used to live and breathe suits in my past work life then to super casual where I am now where suits meant you're off to an interview somewhere. I've always adhered to the same line of thinking of "dressing for the job you want" but I must admit that's gone a tad on the wayside of late. Although what I do like about where I am now is the fact that nobody bats an eyelash if you dress up or down, except of course for the suit:p And I figure, haven't reached that stage where I wear yoga pants/runners to work so I must be ok still haha

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    1. Shoot, when I used to work from home, here were days when I didn't get out of my jammies! Thank goodness for no videoconferencing!

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  26. Gorgeous outfit. You are right. You should always dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Although...what does a professional blogger dress like?

    Cheap Makeup Reviews
    Beauty Fashion Seattle

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    1. Hahah, good point! I guess a pro blogger would be styled out at all times regardless of whether it is a Wednesday meeting or lazy Sunday brunch?

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  27. love this office outfit... it's very stylish, yet very appropriate. love the bold colors! very professional. :)


    have a great wknd!
    xoxo
    jasmine
    AdamAlexMommy

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  28. I love the electric blue top and the skirt and the addition of red is perfect! I do struggle with what to wear for work. I have a loose dress code and most people just wear jeans and casual shirts. It's hard not to fall into the jeans + t-shirt routine that others are in and sometimes I feel out of place in dresses and heels.

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    1. Part of the reason why I started blogging was to keep myself from falling into that "too casual to care" rut!

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  29. I used to dress way more biz-like but lately I got so bored with the suits I started getting more colour into my wardrobe.

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  30. Young in my career I was very buttoned up. Now I pretty much wear what I like to wear except I don't wear jeans to work unless it's on a day when others are off. I don't think it's ever appropriate to wear short, tight or low cut in a work environment.

    This is a great outfit, very office appropriate and very you.

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    1. I think as we gain more experience in our offices and the work force in general, we get better ideas on what's more appropriate. Plus as we get older, we - gasp - mature!

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  31. Sometimes I do struggle with what to wear to work - I work in a corporate office - It can be less casual but when I first started I would wear suits every day and that is not really my style but as time has progressed I think the office has relaxed a bit so I can break out of the suits and try some new things :) I look to blogs for inspiration :)

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

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  32. I love this outfit, it is so fresh and fun! I have never worked in a corporate envirenment so I haven't dealt with this issue, but I imagine it would be frustrating to buy and wear a bunch of clothes you aren't crazy about.

    Jessica

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  33. I wish I could dress up more! LOL I'm in the environmental field, so we're very laid back.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. I think being in a really casual field does not mean you cannot dress up. You can still use accessories to spice up your looks!

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  34. I rarely comment, but today this outfit is just too lovely! Very fresh and fun!

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  35. I love this outfit! I think how you dress absolutely helps to set the tone for the day/your job/you name it. I have also found that the better you dress (not necessarily dressier, but put together/well pressed clothes), the more seriously people are going to take you. I am not sure it should be that way, but who ever said life was fair?

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