5 Mistakes Made in the Name of “Professional Attire”

Lately I’ve seen a lot of stuff being passed off as professional attire.  I don’t know what else to call it ( hot mess, maybe?) but it’s not good.  There’s this morphing taking place in the professional world which is blurring the line between professional, casual & club attire.  What do I mean?  Well, let’s look at 10 things that are going to decrease some of the office stress.

1.  Just because it’s down to the knee doesn’t mean it’s professional.

mega splitAs you can see, this lady is wearing a very nice basic business suit in a dark tone with hose & modest heels.  The problem?  The color?  No, black, navy & charcoal are great for a professional, especially corporate, workplace.  The cut?  No, it’s the proper fit.  She’s not being pinched or cut by the garment or spilling out anywhere.  Then what’s the issue?  The thigh high split in the skirt.  If you wear a split, be sure that your mid -thigh or higher is not visible when sitting, standing or bending.  If it is, you’re not professionally dressed!


2.  Skintight is NOT alright!

sausage casing legs Wearing slacks or jeans to the office?  Be sure you are wearing your correct size.  This lady has on pants that are too tight.  How can you tell?  The “sausage casing” around her thighs.  That tell-tale puckering is a surefire indicator that she needs to go up a size or more.  Another way to tell if your dress slacks are too tight is by looking at your pockets, button and/or waistband.  If your pockets stick out like your hands are in them (but they’re not), your pants are too small.  Finally, if your waistband rolls down, your button leaves an indention in your belly or if you have to jump, yank, shove, stuff or manipulate your body in any way to get into your pants, they’re too tight.  P.S.  This message is not just for ladies.  Skinny jeans and skinny slacks, no matter how fashionable, are not professional if they’re displaying your assets.

skin tightNo matter how cute it looks in the club, the workplace is not the place for skintight attire.  If you can see your panty seams (where the crotch is sewn together) your pants are way too tight.  If your blouse is so tight that your bra seams, design or bow on the front are visible, your blouse is too tight (or too thin).  Don’t go to work “high beaming” people & then get offended because someone makes a snide remark or corrects you.  The workplace is for work, not flashing people.  I’ve had to jump in for too many men who wanted to tell a co-worker or employee to correct their blouse because they were exposed.  They don’t want to appear to be a pervert, they just don’t want women to embarrass themselves!  Ask yourself, if a guy said something about you fixing your clothing, would you think he was trying to help you?  Ogle you?  Ask you out?  Employers are tired of having this awkward discussion & are concerned about lawsuits for sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment.  So ladies, make it easier for everyone & cover up anything that that’s between your collarbone & kneecaps.  Don’t forget to leave enough room to breathe! 😉

3.Dress down day isn’t code for pajama day

pj'sIt’s never appropriate to wear sleepwear to work.  Well, if you work in a professional environment (or if your office does theme days for some reason).  Even if your workplace says it’s ok, you may want to reconsider where you work.  No one takes a person seriously if they’re in their jammies & footies walking around at work.  First, you don’t look clean, no matter how clean your jammies look!  Most people wonder if you showered before you came to work.  Here’s a word for the wise:  if people are posting pics of people in Wal-Mart with pajamas on in public & dogging them out, what do you think that same public is saying and/or thinking about you?  Take your workplace seriously.  Students, that goes for you, too.  Your teachers & professors observe your behavior & take mental notes.  When you approach them for recommendation letters, applications or referrals for jobs, your cupcake, superhero or kitty cat pj’s probably spring to mind.  Think of it this way, work clothes are for work & sleep attire is for sleep.

4. Underwear should be under your clothes-ALWAYS

When I was a kid, underwear was called “underclothes”.  Now I see why.  The word underwear is gethong gone wrongtting misunderstood!  Your bra straps, panties, thong straps, boxers (yeah guys, I’m not leaving you out either!), etc. should not be visible at any time.

5.  Make sure “the girls” are covered & in the right place

When wearing a blouse, it shouldn’t come down further than the top of your cleavage (the line where your breasts separate from your ribcage).  Even if your blouse is in good taste, be aware that you may be revealing too much if you bend over or if someone taller stands beside, over or in front of you.  Wear a necklace that has multiple strands to cover up the area.  Many women think wearing a simple pendant is enough, but pendants attract more attention to the area that they’re trying to divert attention from.

Try strap tamers, bra clips, safety pins & double sided tape to keep your blouse in place over your visible-bra-strapsstraps.  Another thing to look out for?  The jiggle.  Be sure your bra is the proper size.  Go get fitted by a few different stores and a few different people.  It may take five fittings at 4 different places to get the right fitting.  Keep in mind that different styles of bras fit very, very differently!  So your size may work for a lace bra, but cut into you with a padded bra.  Don’t think if you’re not bountiful up top that it doesn’t matter.  For one, YES, YOU HAVE TO WEAR A BRA TO WORK!  Second, your body will not look proportional if you’re not wearing the right bra.  You don’t want to look like the examples on the left of each photo:



One thing to notice about each of these pics:  see how much flatter their tummies appear?  See how much curvier they look overall?  Bonus for a proper fitting bra!!!  When your bra fits properly, it allows your clothing to hang on your form the way the designer intended.  Try shopping after you’ve found your correct size & be pleasantly surprised!

Here are a few more visual aids that’ll help you keep it classy at work.

too much cleavage

  Size doesn’t matter-keep ’em covered!


Sheer clothing isn’t appropriate for the workplace

too tight

If your top is puckering between the buttons, your top is too small, so go up a size or more.


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