Being a professional means you must dress for the part. Casual clothes convey
an image that you're not taking the job seriously. That's why the professional
dress of choice for men and women in the office remains a combination of
conservative suits and separates. The clothes show you mean business and that
you're serious about your job.
The standard foundation for a professional men's wardrobe is a solid or
pinstriped suit in navy, black, gray or charcoal. The suit must be worn with a
dress shirt that can be a solid color or pinstriped. Shirt colors must be
conservative, such as white and light or medium blue. Ties should be
conservative, not too wide or too skinny, in silk fabric that is a solid color
or features a small pattern or stripes. Socks must rise to the calves so that
when sitting the ankle is not exposed. The classic dress shoes are lace up
oxfords or shiny slip on loafers.
Women's professional clothes are very much like men's. Dark, conservative
suits are best because they are formal and dignified. Skirts and slacks are both
acceptable. Lower heels are the choice for the office in either pumps or
slingbacks. Soft, smooth exposed legs are great at the beach but unpolished at
the office. Cover them up with sheer stockings. Blouses should be conservative
as well, and V-neck blouses and dress shirts work best. Jewelry must be limited,
small and not distracting. Scarves are acceptable if they are tied neatly and
the print is not too loud.
Many offices allow casual clothes on Fridays. However, this is not a license
to wear jeans, shorts and T-shirts. Casual clothes for the office mean dressy
casual clothes, just like you'd wear to a nice restaurant. For men, that would
be khaki slacks, a button-down or dress shirt without a tie, a blazer and
loafers. The look is the same for women, although you can substitute a skirt for
the khakis and substitute a cardigan set for the blouse and jacket. Heels are
still a requirement for skirts. Women may wear slacks with loafers on casual
Friday. Check with your company's dress code for casual dress guidelines.