No doubt about it, dress codes can be difficult to navigate. But here are some things that “safe-for-work” (and here I am talking about most “corporate” desk jobs) should honestly never, ever, ever include:
Any kind of pajama
Anything that shows your bra or bra-straps on purpose
Skirts so short that could be mistaken for a belt
Anything that reveals any part of your midriff (sorry Taylor Swifty, but we all know that *you* don’t have a desk job)
And here’s a list that I’d consider you to think hard about twice before wearing. A lot of these could fly in many contemporary offices, but if you’re headed to an interview (!), or a new office, when in doubt (scream and shout) avoid these items, too:
Any kind of shorts (even the “fancy” ones)
Open toed-shoes/sandals (even peeps)
Tops/dresses that reveal cleavage
Any cutaway style (even if it uses lace or sheer to obscure skin)
Unlined lace or sheer tops that reveal undergarments
Tights as pants
Remember, Taylor Swift is a rock-star by profession and Amal Clooney is playing the part of celebrity wife, not barrister, when you’re catching her in photos in People. When it’s time for you to shine for the paparazzi, be sure you go no-holds-barred but until then, remember who you are and what you’re dressing to do.
What made this ensemble sing? The blush shell (almost like the one shown but with no embellishments at the neckline) and a rose-gold Michael Kors chronograph watch worked to soften up the brown suit and were spot on compliments to her skin tone and hair color. The large tote (again, almost a match to the one she was carrying) was large enough to let her slip her laptop inside-she was our PowerPoint queen-eliminating the need to lug along a clunky and ugly company issued laptop bag.
Tip: the interview is about showing an employer how well you fit in. Once you have the job, you can show them how well you stand out.
No, seriously. It is. Some jobs may require you to be “artistic” and others may be looking for “out of the box” thinkers, but employers are all looking for you to fit the job description and ideal they’ve already created for themselves for who they plan to hire. For all jobs, this means dressing the part—and for most corporate jobs, this means nailing a variation on the interview outfit.
To this end, I submit the classic, neutral corporate interview outfit—ready for that first interview.
*Editor’s note: Ignore how aspirationally priced these pieces are—I wantonly pulled them together from Polyvore. Future posts will be more soundly grounded in reality.
Now naturally some industries have a more prescribed uniform than others, but this number hits all the high points and reinforces the fact that you are no stranger to this part of the ritual of hiring. What makes it a can’t miss? Since it’s not a matchy-matchy suit, it looks less rehearsed (good for most industries, but not all) and you’ll be able to wear both the jacket and pants to work as separates once you land that job. Also, in the event you’re partway through your meeting and feeling way overdressed, you can slip off the jacket and dress things way down because—you’re wearing a tee (bonus points for comfort and, because you’re not wearing some fussy, sleeveless silk shell, you actually can take the jacket off!) The bag is large enough to hold a folder with copies of your resume without crushing it. And the understated watch, earrings, and shoes all quietly communicate that you pulled your look together in a calculated way.
Oh, and don’t forget to actually look at that watch—it’s not just for sending the subliminal message that you are a professional—it’s there to keep you on time!