Has your career advancement stalled and you can’t seem to figure out why? Are you often mistaken for an intern? The problem might be the way you dress. We’re often advised not to judge people by their outward appearance, but it’s difficult not to be somewhat influenced by how others present themselves. If you don’t want to give off the wrong impression, especially at work, it’s prudent to make an effort to look your best.
“Most people ‘don’t know what they don’t know,’ and sabotage their careers by the way they dress for work,” said Ann Sabath in Beyond Business Casual: What to Wear to Work if You Want to Get Ahead.
Don’t come to work looking a mess. Here are seven fashion choices you should avoid if you work in an office.
1. Athletic footwear
Shoes can make or break an outfit; that means no athletic footwear at work. Unless you have a medical problem, steer clear of wearing shoes that are too sporty. If you have to wear athletic shoes, make sure they’re clean and in good shape. No one wants to work with (or smell) someone wearing a pair of ratty gym shoes.
2. Strong fragrances
No one should be able to smell you before you arrive. Be respectful of your co-workers and tone down the fragrance. You must also take into consideration co-workers who may have fragrance sensitivities or medical conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Besides, who would want to stand next to you in an elevator if you smell like a department store perfume display?
3. Wrinkled clothes
Now is the time to get familiar with your iron. If you can’t imagine yourself bending over an ironing board, either take your clothing to the cleaners and have them pressed or buy no-wrinkle clothes. There’s no excuse for wrinkled clothes; it just looks bad. Don’t go to work wrinkled, ever.
4. Gym gear
Sweatshirts, track pants, and any other outfit you would wear to the gym are out. It’s OK to be comfortable, but you shouldn’t look like you’re about to teach a boxing class.
“It appears that this dressing dilemma was created when companies instituted ‘dress down’ days. Mistake number one was that many human resources directors and company decision-makers assumed employees knew what was considered ‘business appropriate.’ Because many companies chose not to establish dress code policies, they soon watched people show up for work in what they wear to the grocery store or a soccer game,” said Sabath.
Although you may like to feel the cool breeze on your toes, it’s not a professional look. Cover up those little piggies.
“There is no excuse for open-toe sandals or shoes. I don’t care how pretty your pedicure is… Nobody wants to see your toes. Even if you think people aren’t looking at your feet, they are. It’s just bad so don’t do it,” Byron Thomas, career development director at Toronto’s Herzing College told Workopolis.
6. Clothes that are too loose (or tight)
Work clothes can be restrictive, but it’s possible to be comfortable and work appropriate. If all of your work clothes are baggy, get a tailor. At the other extreme is wearing an outfit that is way too tight. Your co-workers should not be able to see the outline of your naughty bits. One of the basic keys to achieving a polished look is making sure that your clothes fit properly. Avoid sag and avoid giving a free peep show.
7. Clothes that are too dressy
It’s nice to look dapper, just don’t be so overdressed that it looks like you should be taking center stage at a Broadway show. Always dress for the occasion.
“The rule of dressing up nicely and being well-dressed compared to overdressed is that there has to be fluency and continuity in the outfit one is wearing. Is there a reason you are mixing those colors? Is there a motive behind the chosen patterns? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself when you’re in doubt…Don’t forget the basic rules of fashion: you need to have a central piece and build around that, you need to have a central color and the other colors should be the “supporting actors.” Fashion, just as any art, is about balance … ” said style experts Fraquoh and Franchomme.