Starting a new office job can be stressful for anyone, but it can be extra tough for us girls in our early 20s who want to look stylish yet professional. As young women building our professional outfits for the workplace, we want to express our personal style while still dressing appropriately for our office environment.
Recently on Reddit, someone asked for advice on dressing for the office. Tons of ladies chimed in with tips on finding that sweet spot between personal style and appropriate workwear.
The original poster showed some sample ‘grams of outfits featuring trends like oversized button-downs, ribbed tanks, wide-leg pants, mules, and white sneakers. She asked if these would fly at a biz caz office where the bosses suit up.
Folks quickly called out that while cute individually, many of the outfit combos looked too casual for real professional settings. We’re talking graphic tees, ripped jeans, hoodies, shorts, and flip flops. A no-go for most offices. However, they said you could elevate certain pieces with the right styling. Like swapping sneaks for loafers makes an outfit way more work-friendly.
When figuring out what professional outfits for women to wear, think about your industry, location, and company vibe. Startups or creative agencies are way more chill with casual stuff versus law firms or banking. Regardless, dressing slightly nicer as the newbie shows you’re serious. Scope out what the seasoned folks wear and take some cues.
For a foolproof starter wardrobe, stick with versatile neutrals like black, gray, navy and tan. Get yourself some well-fitting pants, blouses, button-downs, blazers and nice shoes like loafers, flats or pumps. Go for fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. Add layers like cardis to dress up sleeveless tops. Avoid anything super tight, sheer or short. Don’t need any wardrobe malfunctions!
While oversized shirting and sneakers might be your jam, think about how pieces work together. Aim for a polished vibe. Crisply tucked or half-tucked shirts look way better than an totally messy, billowing top. Save that for post-work drinks!
Thrift stores and fast fashion spots can help you score inexpensive pieces to build up your work wardrobe without blowing your budget. Invest in versatile essentials like blazers, classic heels and button-downs you can mix and match to create different looks.
Accessories are an easy way to show your personal flair. Fun earrings, a printed scarf or a colorful bag can make simple outfits pop.
Don’t be scared to take some fashion risks once you get a feel for the dress code. But dressing super casual may come across as unprofessional or sloppy to the boss. Like it or not, how we dress affects how coworkers see our competence. Your safest bet is to dress similar to people a level or two above your role.
Every office is different, but these tips can help you walk that line between stylish and professional:
- See what the long-timers wear and note any differences among departments. Accounting peeps may dress way different than engineers or designers.
- Unless explicitly allowed, avoid clothes with rips, logos or crazy prints. Stick to solids and simple styles.
- Nix the sneakers and open-toed shoes. Go for oxfords, loafers, flats or low heels instead. Leather sneakers can maybe work at some casual offices.
- Be careful with sleeveless tops, some offices ban tank tops or anything too revealing. Add a blazer or cardi to cover up bare shoulders just in case.
- Don’t wear leggings or yoga pants unless you pair them with a long top or tunic. You’ll probably need to trade the spandex leggings for real pants.
- Quality fabrics like tailored material always looks crisper than t-shirts or sweatshirts. Iron or steam shirts to keep things looking crisp.
- Graphic tees, hoodies, distracting slogans can look immature. Think twice before rocking them to the office.
With a smart capsule wardrobe and feel for the vibe, you can totally bring your own style to the office in a way that still shows you’re a professional boss babe.
Hope this gives you a good starting point for figuring out your work style! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.