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Dressing appropriately for work



To be taken seriously by your employer, it’s important to dress appropriately to the workplace. 

Whether you like it or not, the way you look plays a role in your success in the modern workplace. The saying “The problem with appearance is that it translates to performance,” really comes to play in this modern workplace. Even if your boss doesn’t think that they’re thinking any less of you, they will subconsciously think it. When you don’t fit in, you’re not as accepted and welcomed. And at some point, this could hurt your chances of getting a promotion.

In today’s workplace, where casual wear is becoming increasingly popular, it can be tricky to understand the rules of appearance.

But here are some few rules to guide one on how to dress appropriately and look good for the office


  1. Understand the industry you are and what’s appropriate there

Everyone draws their lines differently and so do we have different shapes and what would fit them. You can’t dress anyhow to satisfy yourself without first considering the industry you operate in. A finance executive can’t be seen in shorts in the office serving his customers so also a medical practitioner can’t be seen wearing likewise. These are highly regulated institutions with dress code formalities and must be adhered to. Once someone flouts the rules of the code of dressing, that person is considered not fit for such an industry and may be laid off. So, if your company has a dress code, follow it. This saves you time and the embarrassment of improperly dressing.

  1. Make sure your clothes fit

It may sound obvious, but many get it wrong. If your clothes are too big or too small, they are not going to look good on you. Unfitted clothing makes one very uncomfortable as it tends to create an unnecessary attention on the wearer. To avoid this uneasiness, ensure a proper fitting to everything you wear to the workplace to enable you concentrate fully on your daily activities. A fitted clothing has a way of boosting ones confidence to perform superlatively. So always make sure you are in the right outfit.

  1. Dry your hair/ keep it neat & smelling good

Never leave your house with wet, unkempt and a smelly hair. It makes you look like you don’t have your life together, which translates to not having your career together. It also makes others uncomfortable. Now imagine sitting in an air conditioned room with someone who has wet, unkempt and a smelly hair, how unbearable that can be. This does affect the people around you alone but denigrates your personality. So don’t say you’re late for work and as such rush out of the house without properly taking care of your hair.

  1. Pay attention to your bag

You don’t want your personal things jutting out of your purse or briefcase. Keep your bag clean on the inside, especially if it doesn’t have a zipper, which allows others to catch a glimpse inside from time to time. One other thing professionals need not to do is to wear knapsacks because it looks “too collegiate”.

  1. Don’t wear strong perfume or cologne

Anything that anyone else can smell and can get choked from is not good. To get an idea of whether someone can smell you or not, ask someone you trust. Mild perfumes or colognes are the best especially in a working environment. You don’t want to end up making an asthmatic patient have an attack or even some of your colleagues getting (catching) flu due to your strong perfume or cologne.

  1. Wear well-kept, polished shoes

“One recruiter told me the first thing he notices about a candidate is his or her shoes”. Make sure your shoes are polished and in good condition. With the saying “You are addressed the way you dress,” doesn’t only refer to your clothing but your entire outlook and that include your shoes. Shoes are very essential in helping us get the complete outlook and the deserved respect from others.

  1. Pay attention to your watch

Image 5a & 5b

The one most common accessory that is noticed on both men and women is the watch. A lot of people may not know this but the watch you wear speaks a lot about you and your personality. In today’s modern working environment, everything one puts on makes a statement. A bulky watch on a man or a woman at a formal working environment is WRONG. Accessorizing yourself with watches must be clearly looked at especially in a formal setting. As ladies go in for a cute leather or chain watch and same applies to men. Bulky ones such as the ones worn by Musicians are Wrong in a formal working environment.

  1. Wear rich colors to portray authority and avoid overly flashy clothes or neon colors

Pay attention to your color choices. Darker colors usually convey a stronger impression and confidence than lighter ones. If you’re giving a presentation, make sure the color you’re wearing doesn’t blend in with the background behind you, it must stand out. Darker colors also portray confidence and fierceness.

Also, both men and women have to be cautious with bright colors. Clothes that are too flashy can be distracting and the visual equivalent of shouting and you don’t want to come across like that. Mild but not too dull color shades are much better in a formal working environment.


  1. Don’t dress to be too sexy

Not only is wearing inappropriate clothing distracting, it can also give off an inaccurate impression. Avoid too-short hemlines, too-tall heels, plunging necklines, and exposed under garments. A lot of women are oversexualized in the office due to this. People end up discrediting themselves by looking too provocative by the way they dress. Always ask yourself these questions before dressing up “What do I want to be remembered for? What I wore or what I said?”

  1. Wearing nude pantyhose must be curtailed

Ever since Kate Middleton started wearing pantyhose in public, it quickly became stylish again. It gives you a more finished look they say. Your work environment should be considered first before wearing the pantyhose. It is prohibitive in the some certain quarters of the working environment so note this before indulging the act. For some people like air hostess, it will be an added advantage. The pantyhose is worn to cover excess skin that makes one look decent and neatly dressed. But we must bear in mind it may not be appropriate for all working environment. We need not to copy everything we see around world but must ensure it fits into our immediate environment.

  1. Get regular pedicures

One of the biggest pet peeves is when women wear open-toed shoes without getting pedicures. If you’re going to show your toes, make sure your toes are well-groomed.

  1. Don’t over-accessories

Accessories are meant to complement your outfit, not overpower it. In the corporate world, less means class and confidence. So, minimize the number of accessories you wear to the office.


  1. Avoid ankle socks with slacks

It is unpardonable to dress officially without a socks or wear an ankle-high socks. When you cross your legs and the pants slightly lift up, no skin should be showing. Your socks need to be at an appropriate length that prevents the skin from showing. Color shades in socks are also important. Wearing one color shade or mild color shades connotes confidence, class, and power.

  1. Facial hair shouldn’t overwhelm your face, trim it as well as your beard

Facial hair needs to be kept trim and tidy to maintain a professional look. Constantly visit the saloon to have your face properly dressed by the barber to avoid facial hair growing to make you unkempt. Your beards should be kept low and well-trimmed to give you a more confident look.

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Vogue & Style

Wearing the right outfit for the office in 2019



Suit or shirt? Skirt or slacks? Tights or bare legs? Sandals or pumps? These are the questions you might find yourself asking each morning as you select work attire in 2019. And, depending on the dress code your company enforces, you could be spot on – or woefully off-base in your fashion choices.

According to a survey by, only 55% of workplaces have a dress code. If your new employee orientation didn’t cover it, contact HR to ask about the official policy. Even if your orientation manual tells you to dress “business casual,” though, what exactly does that mean? What is acceptable – and what isn’t?

Official Dress Codes for 2019

There are typically four types of corporate dress codes: business formal, business professional, business casual, and casual. Here are some general tips for both men and women for each category. Stick close to the basics and ensure that you’re always dressed appropriately in this 2019.


If you work in a law firm, regularly meet with executives, or otherwise hold a high-level position, you might be asked to come dressed “business formal” or in “boardroom attire.” This is the highest level of professional dress.

For Men:

  • A tailored one-, two-, or three-button suit in a solid, neutral color like black, gray, or navy.
  • Ties and other accessories should be both modest in color and style – solid, brighter colors (a red tie, for example), or patterned muted neutrals (a navy plaid tie) – as well as high-end in quality. No novelty ties, such as sports team patterns.
  • White, collared button-up shirts.
  • Shoes should be closed-toe oxfords in brown or black, not loafers.
  • Hair should be well-groomed. In general, short hair is most acceptable.
  • Nails should be clipped short, clean, and buffed. Don’t be shy about getting regular professional manicures.


For Women:

  • A well-cut pantsuit or skirt suit in a conservative neutral color, such as black, navy, or brown.
  • White button-ups with a collar.
  • Closed-toe heels in a neutral color such as taupe, black, grey, or brown.
  • Tights, preferably in a dark color.
  • Conservative accessories – for instance, diamond studs rather than chandelier earrings.
  • Well-groomed hair worn in a conservative cut, such as a bob or soft layers.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.
  • Well-groomed, neutral nails that are either clear coated, or painted with a beige-toned polish.



A step down from business formal, business professional clothing is still neat, conservative, and traditional, if a little more loose when it comes to color or pattern. Business professional is also sometimes called “traditional business.” Expect to present a professional appearance every day, injecting personality into your outfits with your accessories and color choices.

For Men:

  • A one- or two-button suit. Suit colors should still be conservative, but you have more leeway with pattern – a conservative stripe or check, for instance.
  • Pressed, lighter-colored dress pants worn with a sports jacket.
  • Conservative ties, but feel free to introduce colors and patterns. For example, you can feel free to wear a blue-striped, professional tie, but no novelty ties.
  • High-end accessories, such as watches (preferably silver, gold, or white gold) and cuff links, if necessary.
  • Shirts should be collared button-ups, but can be colored, as long as the color is fairly conservative. Blue, burgundy, or gray all work well.
  • Shoes should be conservatively colored oxfords or polished loafers in black or brown.
  • Hair and nails should be groomed, but check with HR on acceptable hairstyles.


For Women:

  • A suit or skirt, top, and jacket in a conservative neutral color, such as black, brown, or navy.
  • Collared button-up shirts that may be any solid color.
  • Dark or nude-colored hosiery.
  • Closed-toe pumps in a neutral color such as black or brown.
  • Larger, more noticeable jewelry – as long as it’s not distracting. Think along the lines of one statement necklace or a chunky watch. High quality is preferred.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.
  • Well-groomed, neutral nails. May be clear coat or beige.
  • Hair should be neat and groomed, but check with HR on acceptable cuts and colors.



Business casual is one of the more common dress codes for a certain group, the media and advertising firms, allowing employees to add personality to their workwear without looking unprofessional. In a business casual setting, you can expect a lot more in the way of color and accessories.

Still, the term “business casual” can mean different things to different organizations, so it’s always best to check for guidelines with HR instead of making assumptions. Note that sometimes business casual can also be called “executive casual.”

For Men:

  • Can wear colored, collared button-ups in any color. Conservative patterns such as checks or stripes are acceptable too, worn with or without a tie.
  • Ties should still be conservative in pattern. Avoid novelty ties, and choose patterns like dots, stripes, or checks. Most colors are acceptable.
  • Pullovers and sweaters worn over collared shirt. Choose solid, striped, or another conservatively patterned sweater. Primary and jewel-toned colors are best.
  • Dressy slacks, such as black dress pants or pressed khakis in the summer, worn with or without a sports jacket.
  • More casual accessories, such as a leather-band watch.
  • Shoes can be oxfords, loafers, or another comfortable yet dressy choice, in brown or black. Avoid sneakers.
  • May offer more leeway for hairstyles, allowing for longer hair (check with HR).
  • Nails should be clean and short.


For Women:

  • Business separates, rather than a full suit – a skirt worn with a cardigan or jacket, for example.
  • Colored shirts and blouses, rather than mandatory collared button-downs. Choose solid colors, or muted patterns like stripes or checks, and avoid low-cut shirts or bright patterns.
  • Slacks and khakis.
  • Larger jewelry, such as a statement necklace or large cuff-style watch. Doesn’t necessarily need to be the highest quality – gemstones and other casual materials are fine. Scarves may also be appropriate.
  • Shoes may be comfortable flats and loafers, as well as pumps, but should remain closed-toe. Can be any color, although black, brown, red, navy, and gray are among the most appropriate.
  • Nails should be well-groomed, but there can be a few restrictions on colors.
  • Hair can be more casual, with less conservative colors and even more noticeable (chunky or high-contrast) highlights generally acceptable. It should still be neatly styled, such as blow-dried, or in a ponytail or bun.



If you’re fortunate enough to work in a casual office, the trick is to avoid getting too casual or creative with your dress. According to the survey by, your coworkers make specific judgements regarding your capability based on your clothes, which may extend to employers as well. By arriving to work in casual clothes that are still neat, pressed, and appropriate for the type of work you do, you can make sure that a casual dress code isn’t holding you back.

For Men:

  • Casual pants and slacks, but never jeans unless stipulated as acceptable by HR. If jeans are permitted, dark-wash, straight-cut only.
  • Collared polos or crew-neck sweaters and pullovers. The majority of colors and patterns are okay as long as they’re not a novelty pattern, such as a sports team logo.
  • Casual accessories, such as brightly colored watches.
  • Shoes that are clean. Sneakers are usually acceptable, as are loafers.
  • Hair and nails can be more casual. Nails should remain short and clean, and casual offices generally allow for longer hairstyles and ponytails.


For Women:

  • Nicely fitted tops and blouses, although shirts should never be tight or revealing.
  • Slacks or skirts in more casual fabrics, such as cotton. If denim is permitted, dark-wash only. Avoid overly casual denim cuts, like cutoffs or flare jeans.
  • Skirts should remain at knee-length.
  • Open-toed shoes are permitted. Avoid casual shoes such as sneakers or flip-flops.
  • Casual accessories, such as scarves. Larger rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces are fine, and may be of any quality.
  • More leeway with hair length, style, and color. More adventurous styles and colors are typically fine.
  • Nails can be painted in brighter colors, or with any type of pattern. Avoid novelty characters or designs, or limit “louder” designs to one nail only.


In office dress codes, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and dress a little more formally than necessary until you have a better grasp of what is and isn’t acceptable at work. If your business clothing mantra is “clean, tailored, and professional,” it’s pretty hard to go wrong, regardless of the environment in which you work.

What type of dress code does your office use?


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