15 Style Faux Pas to Avoid at Work
As you build your work wardrobe and your career, you’ll gradually pick up cues on what to wear. But equally important? Knowing what not to wear. When it comes to looking sharp and setting yourself up for success in the office, we swear by the following rules. Forgive us if some of them seem obvious, but we can all use a little reminder once in a while.
Behold, our list of common style faux pas:
- Too-low neckline. If you’re bordering on cleavage, retreat and reassess.
- Too-short skirt. It may sound old-school, but the corporate world looks down on skirts that hit much above the knee.
- Visible bra straps. Some things—like the color of your lingerie—should remain a mystery to your coworkers.
- Pilling knitwear. You might love your worn-in cardigan, but you don’t want to look like a stray cat, do you?
- Heels over four inches. If you’re teetering or can’t walk by the end of the day, they’re too high.
- Shirts with slogans or words. Your outfit should make a subtle statement—not a literal one.
- Runway trends like thigh-high boots. We think they’re cool, but your corporate clients probably won’t.
- Banged-up shoes. Shoe shining is not just for the gents. Get your heels shined, polished, and re-soled when necessary.
- Woven friendship bracelets. Great for summer camp. Bad for corporate life.
Beauty & Grooming
- Chipped manicure. Nothing screams “unprofessional” like a two-week-old manicure. As soon as it starts to chip, remove it. Clean, bare nails are perfectly fine if you don’t want to bother with nail polish.
- Too much makeup. The more formal your work environment, the more natural your makeup should be.
- No makeup. Even if you keep it minimal (a slick of mascara, a hint of lip color), a bit of makeup shows that you’re making an effort.
- Wet hair. Get a blow-dryer or shower at night, but don’t show up to the office looking like a swamp animal.
- Too-cute hairstyles. Pigtails have no place in a formal environment. Some would argue that even spunky ponytails undermine your professionalism. (Our take? It depends on where you work.)
- Ticketing bracelets or entry stamps. Your coworkers want to hear how awesome the music festival was, not see evidence of it. Grab a loofah and scrub that ink off before you leave for work.
Commit these style sins and you’ll not only look unprofessional, but you’ll probably feel uncomfortable. Discomfort leads to distraction, and you can’t build your empire when you’re distracted. A good rule of thumb: Once you put your clothes on in the morning, you shouldn’t need to adjust them or think about them for the rest of the day.
For more advice on how to cultivate an amazing work wardrobe, check out Wear to Work: A Guide to Building Your Ultimate Professional Uniform.