A short trip downtown to a meeting this week revealed at least a dozen summer office-wear don’ts.
Here’s why the things on my list below are a problem. Particularly for younger women, these mistakes can undermine the impression they’re trying to make as professionals. Here’s my list of what not to wear to work in the summer.
In no particular order:
Flip-flops. Cute for the summer at the beach, at a barbecue, shopping with friends, going to and from yoga, almost everywhere. Just not work. (The same is true for any shoe that shows more skin than it covers up or that is typically seen by a pool, like Crocs and other pool shoes.)
Slip dress. Just … no. Too much skin, too much slinkiness, and often too much side boob. In fact, there’s nothing about a slip dress that’s right for work. (Maybe with a T-shirt underneath for a casual workplace.)
Wear instead: the near-universally-flattering fit-and-flare silhouette.
Anything strapless. A strapless top or dress on its own, even one that fits snugly, just reveals too much skin and is therefore not appropriate for work. Wear instead: Try covering up your cute strapless top or dress with a cardigan or jacket.
Sheer. Anything sheer, whether it’s linen, silk, or even a cotton T, if your bra is visible underneath, it’s not okay for the office. Make sure to double-check yourself in light that’s bright enough to give you a realistic sense of what you look like. Wear instead: a top with some texture (think: eyelet, pique, or seersucker) with shorter sleeves.
Mules. Too much bare skin, too much tap-tapping when you walk. Wear instead: a slingback in a light color or one with perforation. In some offices, one with a peeptoe might work as well.
Crop tops and halters. Again, too much skin, in particular the risk of side boob. Wear instead: Well, how about a nice short-sleeve shirt?!
Mini skirts. There are mini skirts and there are mini skirts. A lot depends on the office level of formality, the height of its wearer, and the style of the skirt. A pencil skirt needs to be longer than a full or A-line skirt, because it will ride up when you sit down. An inch or two above the knee is fine in almost every situation; more than that, probably not. Wear instead: a midi skirt or pants. 🙂
Graffiti T-shirts and other clothes. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know by now that Melania Trump caused a huge kerfuffle last week when she wore graffiti to work. But she and everyone else should leave the graffiti for after-hours. The same is true for your favorite sports regalia (except in cases of a national championship). Wear instead: A print or stripe T-shirt.
Distressed denim. Full disclosure: I LOVE distressed jeans. I adore my pair from 3×1. I love denim in general. But not for work, never ever ever. Wear instead: all-season wool pants or, in some offices, a very dark-wash denim trouser.
Shorts. No, no, no. Not even the peculiar short suits that you see from time to time. Wear instead a knee-length lightweight cotton skirt, if it’s super-hot, or a pair of khaki or gingham pants.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. What would you add to this list? What’s the thing you see during the summer that you find most inappropriate? Leave a comment and let me know!
(Ketura Persellin is a personal stylist in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs. Please contact her for a complimentary discovery session.)