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What to Wear to Work?

Aug 17, 2007
As some of you are recent college grads, I understand that you have become accustomed to literally rolling out of bed and grabbing anything off the floor or out the hamper and going to class. And it was great, wasn't it? But you know what? You can't continue to dress that way when you get a job in the corporate work world.

Recently it has become clear to me that some of you twentysomethings don't know what's appropriate to wear to an interview or in the workplace. And I am by no means a fashion expert but I can make a suggestion right off the bat: IRON YOUR CLOTHES! I've seen some of us twentysomethings on the train in the morning, going to work in nice outfits that look like you first balled it up and sat on it, twisted it around itself, jumped on it and then put it on. Please stop that. And for those of you who have to wash your hair every morning, please take the time to blow dry it out. And my people who sport a 'fro: comb it, shape it and make sure there isn't any lint in it. Really people, it doesn't take that much to make yourself look presentable.

I know what you're thinking: "I'm not going to succumb to the way society wants me to dress." But if you desire to make a career out of your job or want to be considered for promotions or taken seriously, you are going to have to play the part. You wouldn't expect to become a professional swimmer if instead of wearing the swimsuit you wore a sweat suit. So why would you wear a dingy shirt or tight skirt to work in a professional office?

Now, I realize that not every office has a business casual dress code. Some of you may be lucky enough to wear jeans to work. But in the event your offices' dress code is strictly enforced and you haven't a clue as to what to wear, I aim to help you out.

In general, clothes made of silk, rayon, silk blends, wool blends, polyesters or other synthetic material (not spandex) are good choices.

Women can wear pants, slacks, pants and skirt suits, dress shirts, skirts and dresses. The general rule is that dresses and skirts should be the length of your fingertips at your side or below the knee. Let me explain. If you stand up straight and place your hands at your side, your skirt should either meet or pass your fingertips. Please do not walk up into people's job wearing a skintight above the knee cocktail dress. It may get you looks from the guys but it will not get you respect, and wearing it to an interview with fishnet stockings (which are not acceptable with any outfit for work) won't get you the job either. Desiree Spivey, CEO, of Beauticontrol, says a reason why people dress inappropriately for work is because "everyone is a too fashionable. They can't differentiate whether they are going to work or going out to the club." This is true in the case of women. How many of you have seen someone wearing that tight skirt and low-cut off the shoulder shirt to work? I know I have.

For men, slacks, khaki pants, shirts, polo shirts, pullover sweaters and sports jackets are a great choice for the business casual office. Besides having a clean dress shirt, you must also wear a tee-shirt under your shirt, NOT a tank top. "No matter what type a shirt a man wears, if he is not wearing a tee shirt, the dress shirt will get soiled," says Lori Lepage, President, Living Out Loud, Inc.

And as long as you're not wearing sneakers, flip-flops or any kind of slippers then you'll be fine. LePage says for women, the shoes should match the belt and if you are not wearing a belt, the shoes should match your skirt or pants. Spivey says for men, shoes should match the socks.

One last thing I learned that I wanted to share with you is: "the bottom of your pants should meet the top of the heel to the mid part of the heel of your shoe, anything over that is too long," says, Lepage. I really learned a great deal in writing this article. I pray some of you have learned something as well. Because the next time I see one of you looking a mess I am going to call you on it. And I'd hope you'd do the same for me.
About the Author
ChaChanna Simpson is the publisher and editor of Twentity.com, the free ezine for twentysomethings, featuring cheap and free events every Wednesday. Subscribe at www.twentity.com
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