What to Wear to Work, Ladies!

What to Wear to Work, Ladies!

By Brandon Miller
Monster Generation Y Contributing Writer

We’ve all seen our parents go to work everyday, so you would think that dressing for the job would be a pretty nonsensical topic of discussion. What’s so hard about throwing on some slacks and a blouse, right? Wrong. Not only has the aesthetic landscape changed for people in the Millenial Generation, but it was changing when we were watching our moms and dads go to work. And since we weren’t always seeing our elders strut to work in traditional business suits, some of us tend to take things just a tad too casual.

Like it or not, we’re judged by our appearances on a daily basis. How you dress affects how others at the office see you, and in many cases, how you are treated. If you dress like you’re a 19-year-old college coed, you’re going to forever be treated like a 19-year-old college coed. So no matter what your job title, it’s important to appear composed. You should be dressing for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have.

Here are some general guidelines on work wear for ladies:

You're not starring on Canada's Next Top Model.

The thought of showing excess amounts of skin should not even cross your mind. No cleavage, no micro-mini skirts and absolutely no midriff-baring clothing. Despite how cute you think you are, halter-tops and skin-tight jeans are not work appropriate. Keep things classy by layering your outfits. It’s okay if you’re desperate to wear that new tank top to work – just remember to grab a cardigan or sweater to balance out your ensemble. Your makeup should follow the same understated rules. If you can be confused with Dolly Parton, you have a problem.

There are denim dos and denim don’ts.

Jeans paired with a blouse or with a cute jacket can be a stylish workday outfit for a relaxed office – if the jeans are of the right variety. The denim you wear to work should be classic and reserved. That means nothing with holes, nothing low-rise and nothing with bejeweled flowers on the rear. And that last one isn’t just restricted to the office.

If you can hear it, don’t wear it.

This was a really good line that my editor used to reference flip flops in the office. Well, guess what? It doesn’t end with flip flops. Avoid anything noisy, from jingly bangles on your wrists to raucous belts that shake when you walk. If you distract people in the office when you walk by – with anything besides your natural beauty, of course – you’re doing something wrong. The one exception is high-heels. But again, err on the side of caution and try not to look like an extra in a burlesque show.

Observe your coworkers.

Look at what your boss is wearing. Is she in jeans and a sweater or is she in trousers and a blazer? What about the girl the next cubicle over? You don’t want to be the one that stands out based on your dress; you want to be the one that stands out based on your work. That being said, if your boss looks like a Kathy comic come to life, you might want to avoid her lead and use somebody else as inspiration.

Shun looking like the spawn of Avril Lavigne.

If you’re a hairdresser, you can get away with some crazy colour when it comes to your mane. Most of us cannot. The same goes for facial piercings. I remember working at a coffee company next to a barista who did not adhere to the rules set out by the corporation. Trust me that her infected cleavage piercing didn’t scream “Buy our lattes” so much as “Get checked for hepatitis.” Nobody is expecting you to roll into the office with a Barbara Walters hairdo, but there are ways to adhere to a certain level of maturity and class while still looking trendy and stylish.

Three important factors for dressing for success:

1. Your industry. If you’re a lawyer or you work in finance, you’re likely going to be in a suit. It’s hard to get around that. But if you’re a graphic artist or an administrative assistant, your look may vary depending on the job.

2. Your schedule. Dress codes often change from day to day. If you have meetings, you should look more polished than you would for a day full of paperwork. But don’t show up to the office with a pair of sunglasses on your head just because you aren’t meeting with clients. There’s business casual and then there’s casual-casual. Know the line.

3. Your company. Some companies may be more lenient than others. But that doesn’t mean you can start to look flat-out dumpy. Just because you can wear sneakers, for example, doesn’t mean you should be wearing the dirty pair you use to run five miles every morning. No matter what the company standard, cleanliness and respectfulness are a must.