(Closed) I'm pretty much an idiot when it comes to dressing for the office

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 3
11272 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2012

@rcac1208:  how old are you?  i ask this because some young professionals dress in old lady apparel and look out of place.

Post # 5
4035 posts
Honey bee

@rcac1208:  It can really depend on your style and the “feel” of your office. I used to work at a very stuffy, convserative foundation (i.e., lots of old, white republican men). So my style there was very simple, darker colors, knee length skirts, blazers, black pants. No crazy colors or shoes. 

However, now I work at a school as an administrator and still have to wear business professional clothing, but I wear brighter colors, bolder patterns, and a larger variety of dresses/pants/shirts. I feel way more comfortable now and have defined my own style. 

How would you describe your work enviroment and co-workers? 

Here is a difference in the types of clothing I have worn:

Conservative job–note, this pattern was actually a little too “bold” or “busy” for the previous job, but it was our pic day and I felt comfortable pushing the bounds a little 🙂 It was the kind of job I had to wear a blazer almost every day/during most meetings. If I wore a dress, it was highly encouraged to wear panty hose. Very stuff, in my opinion.


Now, I wear outfits similar to this. I also wear dress pants and skirts. I wear knit sweaters during the winter and patterned shirts during the summer. I very rarely wear a blazer now. I do occassionally wear cardigans though.


On casual fridays only (at my current job), I even wear the outfit pictured below:


ETA: FWIW, I am 25 years old. 

Post # 6
225 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

@rcac1208:  I had this issue too. I wore scrubs most of my job-life. Now it’s business attire for me at 23. I would say depending on where the blazer hits, if its at the pant line or longer I would not let your shirt show. If it sits above your pant line I think it would be ok. I would not roll the sleeves. And I would button depending on the shirt underneath, If it’s a little too sheer, or little too low cut, etc etc. Never flip flops or sandals (open toe) peep toe is ok i believe. Also, I would make sure your pants aren’t too long esp if you tried them on with heals, you don’t want the back ends to get ratty, or worn out. FI’s mother helped me out a lot. She works in a corporate environment. mostly business profession, casual days on fridays.

Post # 7
4035 posts
Honey bee

@rcac1208: Also, I would recommend checking out Ann Taylor Loft–that’s where I bought the white and black dress pictured above (if there is an outfit near you, even better), Express and the Limited for a sense of young professionals style. Not going to lie, the prices can be pretty high. Personally, I search thrift stores for high end brands that are still fashionable. I have found Banana Republic, Limited, Express and a number of other brands for $5-$10 a pair of pants/skirts. I buy a lot of my dresses at Ross, T.J. Max and Target. In generally, you can buy cardigans, dress shirts and pants at Target. If you want to keep your budget reasonable, go with simple colored shirts that can be “re-used” for a variety of outfits (think combining them with different blazers, pants, skirts). 

Also, if you buy blazers, stick with basic colors that are “nondescript.” I saved a ton of money when I was starting out by buying one black, one grey and then a neat patterned one. You can wear the same blazer with different outfits and if it’s nondescript, people don’t really notice it is same.

Hope this helps!

Post # 8
11272 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2012

@rcac1208:  it really depends on your style too but when shopping, i would avoid the stores that focus on older ladies. 

one thing that i notice, length of skirts make a huge difference (as shown in the pic).  youthful vs mature.  both professional though.

it really depends on the dress code of your office too.  the other pic show some nice casual/professional office looks.

keep your colours muted and neutral that way you can mix and match tops and bottoms.  if you want some colour, add accessories like a scarf, belt or shoes.

Post # 11
4893 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

@rcac1208:  I own pantyhose (nude and black), but I never wear them. They’re nice for colder weather. 

I second whoever said Loft! Most of my clothes are from there and New York & Co. Both of them run really great coupons all the time. NY&Co even regularly runs a $100 off $200. 

Post # 12
1088 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Sears and JC pennys have some nice items as well, I love Sears for work pants and Pennys for tops, but I also buy items at Dress Barn (they do well for ladies with curves), and Old Navy suprisingly. 

Post # 13
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Etiquette Snob here… lol

Great posts (and pics) from the other Bees.**

RE – Pantyhose & Tights

One – Will depend on the Weather

Two – Will depend on the environment / formality of the Office

I see you are Canadian… for the most part Canadians in this regard are more formal than our US Counterparts… and of course we also have colder weather.

If you work in a well-educated Professional Environment… such as a Lawyer’s Office, Architect’s, Engineering Office, Accounting, etc

I would always play it safe and wear “hosery”… NO BARE FEET EVER…

Peep toes, are acceptable in the office, but your actual toes should be covered !!

Sling Backs get mixed reviews… ok for some offices, too casual for others.

** NOTE – All the pics supplied above, and all the women are wearing Tights or Panyhose

If you aren’t a fan of Pantyhose… then do what a lot of other professional women do… opt for dress pants over skirts & dresses.  Pants are now TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE in a Professional Office for women.  (And I personally find pants more comfy for work).  You cannot go wrong with Pants, Trouser Socks, a nice Blouse / Sweater… and a Blazer within reach (when required to meet a client, the boss, go to a Meeting etc)

And Pants are a god-send in Canada in the wintertime.  I seriously wear pants to work almost exclusively from November to April.

If however you work in a more “creative” field (lol or Government) you may be able to get away with no hose in the hottest of the Summer Months… June, July & August… just make sure you aren’t caught with your shoes off EVER… not even under your desk.  And that your legs, feet & toes are in impecable condition…

If they aren’t cover em !!

Now the stuff that no one will tell you…

Even if you work in a more casual environment… DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO FALL BACK TOO FAR.

(This is also true for Casual Fridays)

You should always bear in mind that you will be judged by the WHOLE PACKAGE that you present at work (this is not school).  The work you do, the presence you convey thru how you carry yourself, talk, and dress.  And your understanding of the word “professional” (ie gossip / bad mouthing others can be a HUGE Strike against you no matter how brilliant you are)


If you look smart… people will naturally assume you are… despite anything else happening around you.

If you look like you just “threw it together” people will assume that is what you do with your work too.

If you dress like you don’t care (just rolled out of bed) … then they will assume you don’t and haven’t matured beyond the stage of being in HS.  You could very well end up being labelled that “ditzy newbie” based on your clothing / appearance (and that sh!t can stick permanently, if you also happen to have made some mistake when you first start your job… Newbie Mistakes happen, but looking ditzy & making a Newbie Mistake is a recipe for disaster in the Public Opinion Poll)

You don’t have to have oodles of money to have a good career wardrobe.  Just an assortment of pieces you can mix & match.  If you are going to go the Pants route for Fall to Winter tho, buy several pairs… in different fabrics & colours (ie Black, Grey, Brown, Tweed etc) because 5 days a week for 6 months of the year in the same couple of pairs will wear thin pretty quick (figuritively & literally)

The trick I find is in utilizing seperates… Tops, Bottoms, Blazers, Serious Shoes.  And then adding in some “personality” thru Colour and Accessories (Scarves, Jewellery, Belts, Purses, etc)

And don’t forget Outerwear.  You need to be wearing more to work than just your Uni Jacket or a Ski Jacket to and from work, when you are dressed for success.

The other key element is taking good care of your Clothing.  Keep it clean & well maintained.  Find a Drycleaner, Shoemaker & Seamstress you can trust (if you don’t sew).

Maintenance is key.  Polish your shoes, replace the heels when they are worn down. 

Own a Briefcase if one is needed for the job to carry papers / items back & forth.  And a decent pen (even if it is from Papermate)

All in all you’ll do fine.

There are great websites dedicated to Dressing for Success… and books (I own a fabulous book that I bought years ago, and a lot of the info therein is still quite meaningful even if the styles have changed)

Hope this helps,


Post # 14
1769 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I would NEVER wear hose/stockings/etc with an open toe shoe in an office or anywhere. Oh my goodness that is a horrible look.

I’m in the US and used to work in a business casual office, and currently work in a casual office (some of my coworkers wear hoodies and jeans…SO strange to me!), but I regularly wear tights to work in the winter. Generally I do a bare leg in the summer unless it’s something super formal (like…going to court. Which I’ve never done. But at formal job interviews, for example, I’d wear hose). But I do like opaque tights in the winter with skirts no matter how formal or casual your office is. If it’s formal, your tights should match your skirt and shoes, but if it’s business casual, one can mismatch (so navy skirt and tights with brown shoes, or black shoes and tights with a red skirt).

I personally hate dress pants because I fee like they limit my creativity/style (and I just prefer skirts), but I do have a few pairs of skinny ankle length slacks that I’ll wear with heels (from Gap and The Limited). But the regular bootcut or straight leg dress pants? BORING. There’s nothing wrong with them, and they make getting dressed a snap (just add a blouse, and if you need to dress up quickly, bring a blazer), but I just like a few more options.

Post # 15
129 posts
Blushing bee

My office is business casual, so I don’t own that much “formal” clothing.  I suggest getting a few different colors of pants – you already have black, so I would add khaki and gray, which are both very versatile.  Make sure at least one pair is a longer length for heels.  A basic black pointed-toe pump will always look good, and you can wear it with pretty much anything.  I tend to stay away from overly trendy pieces, but I like to inject some color  in my outfits with bright or printed cardigans, and Target always has tons of cute patterns available for a good price.  I also use my accessories to add a pop to my outfits – I own lots of statement necklaces, which are an easy way to liven up your basics.  I love Loft, and I also recommend the Limited for pants (if they go on sale – they’re not worth full price) and dresses. 


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