Summer is no excuse for Daisy Dukes, flip flops or slip dresses at the office. Here’s what to wear.
Stop going to work dressed like a hot mess.
Take a long look at your summer work ensemble before heading to the office, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your Spanx, boxers or bralette straps showing?
- Would you swim in these shorts?
- Does anything bad happen if you bend over and touch your toes?
- Have you ever played flip cup in this outfit?
- Would this shirt rock at a Jimmy Buffett concert?
- Can you see swimsuit tan lines?
If you answered yes to any of these, that’s not so hot. Yet many workers suffer a mental meltdown when it comes to suiting up professionally once summer starts heating up.
“Casual Friday is a concept that’s become casual everyday, and it’s not pretty,” celebrity stylist and tastemaker Robert Verdi told Moneyish.
Alison Brod, CEO and founder of Alison Brod Marketing and Communications, agrees. “I once had a young assistant come in with heels to dress up her sweatpants one summer,” she told Moneyish. “I will always remember her.” And not in a good way.
“In this age of daily #OOTD selfies, it seems that everyone thinks they look incredible all of the time,” she added. “Sometimes people need to take a step back and evaluate themselves.”
So Moneyish tasked fashionable professionals like Brod, Verdi and Millennial job counselor Chelsea C. Hayes of The Coaching Factory to run through the Do’s and Don’ts of office-appropriate summer outfits.
- MIND THE STRAPS. Your right to bare arms all depends on the neckline and whether your bra strap is showing. So a sleeveless dress, shirt or vest works fine, as does layering a couple of tanks with modest necklines and thick straps, or showing a little skin in those cold shoulder tops. “Spaghetti straps, entirely off-the-shoulder tops and cleavage are never necessary,” said Hayes – no matter how cute your pink bralette looks. Save it for the yoga studio. “In an office, no one wants to see your lingerie,” Brod agreed.
- BUT MEN NEED TO SHOULDER ON. Sorry dudes, but your acceptable office fashion is often held to a higher standard than your female colleagues. “I’ve worked in both start-ups and sports, and I’ve never seen a man pull off wearing a tank top to work. Ever,” said Hayes. “This is not Equinox. We don’t need a visual update on your #fitnessgoals. Closest we can get is a crisp T- shirt with a blazer on top! That’s it.” Verdi agreed. “You can’t show up at work like you’re going to the gym,” he said. “You’re there to work, not workout.”
- DO LAYER UP. But there’s ways around the rules. You can get away with a lacy cami or strapless dress by topping it with a lightweight blazer or cardi. TheReset.com’s new R Label has chic pieces like silk scarf wraps and blazers that add instant polish. Men can dress up a sporty polo or t-shirt the same way. And a layering pieces doubles as a DIY thermostat. “Maybe the subway car is freezing, but the platform is hot,” said Verdi, who also suggests men don a breathable cotton tank top undershirt. “It helps prevent you from sweating through to your dress shirt, so you don’t end up looking like you’re in a wet t-shirt contest,” he said.
- DON’T GET SHORTY. “There are certainly shorts that can look dressier than a skirt, but there is always someone who didn’t get the memo that Daisy Dukes are never appropriate to wear to the office,” said Brod. Men should skip them altogether, unless they’re on the editorial or design side of fashion, or in the art industry. “Picture your doctor, or a finance guy on the trading floor, dressed looking like little bro peep. It just doesn’t work,” said Verdi.
- DON’T GET TOO RIPPED. Tech brands, fashion houses and other trendy workspaces have loosened up on wearing jeans and skinnies that are artfully frayed. But unless you’re fronting a punk band, don’t pair ripped pants with shredded shirts and dirty sneakers on their last legs. “If you wear jeans with trendy rips in them, don’t wear a ripped shirt also. Pick one,” said Brod. And remember that those cutouts shouldn’t expose any undergarments, per rule number one.
- SEPARATE FLIP FLOPS FROM SANDALS. If your strappy footwear is made of rubber or plastic, and makes a “thwack” sound when you walk, it’s meant for the beach or the pool. “You want something like a Sunday sandal that’s strappy and nude, or a matte metallic, that lifts up an outfit,” said Verdi. And get to a salon, because nobody wants to peep your toes unless they’re polished. The cutest shoes won’t distract anyone from calluses and chipped polish.
- BUT MANDALS NEVER WORK. The world has yet to design a men’s sandal that doesn’t scream Dave Matthews fan, so men to stick to close-toed boat shoes and loafers. You can play with color and kick off the socks, though. “When you see a man in a suit and a pair of mandals, you think he’s lost his mind,” said Verdi. “We’re just not there yet.”
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