Let’s face it: Men have it easy when it comes to dressing for work. Just about any blue blazer, any dark pair of jeans, and any collared shirt will do. For women it’s not always so simple. In fact, it’s so complicated that I can’t even begin to tell you what you should be wearing to work. (After all, that changes from industry to industry, and season to season.) But what I can tell you is what you’re not going to wear.
That’s right: no matter your field, your age, or your personal fashion sense, we’ve isolated the 40 things that no grown woman should ever wear to work. (Trust us.) So read on, and take heed! And if this inspires you to go shopping, don’t miss our expert guide to snagging a rock-bottom price at any store.
Anything with Too Many Ruffles
Ruffles are definitely in style this season—and when worn in small doses, they can add a fashionable edge to an otherwise simple professional outfit. But ruffles everywhere? Save that for the weekend—it’ll feel a bit juvenile at the weekly sales call. Those ruffles might have been cool in the ’90s, but these tips on buying stylish secondhand looks will have you looking the right kind of retro.
Canvas Tote Bags
With so many affordable and adorable graphic-print options, these under-$5 bags make are great for dirty gym clothes, as “green” grocery bags (though don’t use the same bag for both), and the like. However, toting everything to the office this way feels a little bit sloppy. Opt for a more structured satchel or tote made out of a leather (or vegan leather, if you prefer) instead.
Intense Nail Art
Subtle nail art, such as a thin metallic stripe, can look elegant on nails, especially in a more creative work environment. But going all out with the colors, add-ons, and patterns is far too much for a quarterly review with your boss. Skip the decals, neons, and gems for weekend-wear or when you’ve got, I don’t know, a theme party or something to attend.
Cutesy Animal Patterns
A little bit of leopard print can go a long way. But head-to-toe animalistic vibes are no good. Neither are those cutesy prints of #PugLife or the #GangstaKitty. While they may make everyone chuckle, that’s not exactly what your work wardrobe is supposed to provide. Stick to one accessory—think a blouse, scarf, or shoe—with a furry-friend pattern, and keep the rest of your outfit neutral in hue and with clean lines.
Oversized Statement Necklaces
Nothing says “Look at me!” the way the statement necklace does. It’s more than just a bold fashion statement: because of all the intricate detailing, these items have an expensive-yet-boho vibe, too. Not ideal for the office. Stick to delicate chains, small stones, and minimal sparkle—after all, you want everyone listening to you, not looking at you.
An airy tunic or caftan is so great for vacation—toss the semi-sheer, often-tassled one-piece over your head and you’re happy hour-ready. However, that kind of look doesn’t equate to office happy hour, or especially the office in the first place. Keep anything casual—and with a litany of pompoms—stashed for beach days only.
Glistening combs and pins look divine in a chignon for a holiday party, but they’re a bit much when you’re just heading in for the 9-to-5. If you must wear some kind of hair accessory, skip the glittery stuff and spring for sleek metal headbands and basic black ponytail ties. For more tips on revitalizing your hair in classy ways, take a look at these 20 Multitasking Beauty Products.
Anything Covered in Sequins
Again, when in doubt, skip full-on shine: You’ll look far more ready for New Years’ Eve than you will for that on-boarding meeting on a Monday morning, even if you do style it smartly (and more casually) with a chambray top or tee.
Charm bracelets are adorable and often can have a personal meaning to the wearer. But just because it’s a symbol of something important to you (or multiple symbols) doesn’t mean you should be jingling all the way to work and back—no woman should really ever wear a charm bracelet to work. Besides, you’ll never get any work done with all that noise.
While you may want to wear those 100mm black Louboutins with your sleek new pantsuit, odds are you’ll be hobbling within the first hour of wear, turning your chic new look into something more silly. If you really want to make your legs look fantastic, try these 14 Ready-For-Fall Beauty Products for Legs.
The practically ubiquitous trend of 2017 may be the perfect excuse to leave the office for an early workout (because duh, you’re so wearing a crop top this weekend), but there’s never an excuse to wear a belly-baring shirt to work. Not because your belly isn’t cute, though.
When you’re at the office, you want everyone’s eyes paying attention to, well, your eyes.
Love a good pair of ripped jeans? Same. Does that mean you slip on your torn-up skinnies for Casual Friday? Definitely not.
As the name would suggest, sheer equates to see-through—and as with cleavage- and tummy-baring tops, anything made of a sheer or semi-sheer fabric will leave you overexposed.
Your legs look great, true, but showing them off at the office in a super-short skirt is a bit too much. Besides, if you want to be comfortable, odds are you won’t wanna hang out with your legs wide open in a micro mini.
While yoga pants are amazingly comfortable, they’re meant for what they’re named for: yoga. (And hanging out at home, but I digress.) Keep them that way. Besides, does everyone need to know how dedicated to Vinyasa you are? Your body shows that off anyway!
So comfy; so not okay for work. For starters, they’re tough to commute in (not to mention gross if you’re using public transportation), but they’re also noisy and will leave feet dirty, too. They’re far too casual to pair with office attire. Leave these beach shoes for the beach and choose a comfy AF, flat slide instead.
Graphic Graphic Tees
While concert merch is a fantastic trend (think about all the old tees you can pull out and rewear!), leave the more graphic options for weekends or hanging out at home. A sailor’s mouth may be acceptable to some, but it can totally offend others, even when you entirely didn’t mean to—and that’s not a good way to kick off any client meeting.
Too Much Perfume
As someone who revels in olfactory delights, I understand the love of—and desire to—wear a signature scent regularly. But with each individual having his or her own taste in fragrances (or even worse, allergies to), it’s important to remember not everyone is obsessed with that same new scent as you are.
Cold shoulders have been around for a few seasons now, but that’s no reason to rock the bare-shouldered trend to work. Case in point: If anyone sees you from the decolletage up, you kinda look naked—generally not the desired effect for 9-to-5 dress.
Dresses With Cut-Outs
Just like off-the-shoulder numbers are in style, so are dresses with strategically placed cutouts. Think: under the breast, along the obliques, and generally the entire back. But these definitely aren’t meant for work. Ever.
Rompers are great for summer—an easy one-piece to toss over a bathing suit, for instance. But that’s no reason to throw one on before your big Power Point presentation. In fact, you’ll look way more juvenile.
While hygge season is around the corner and hoodies are indeed fully appropriate loungewear, the cozy sweatshirt is not meant for office life. Get the same vibe without the sloppy look by choosing an of-the-moment, oversized chenille sweater that has both fashion and comfort appeal.
Again, great for hygge season, bad for the office. Save these luxe lambswool bad boys for when you want to treat your feet to something cozy and comfy, along the lines of bedroom slippers. (You wouldn’t bring those to the office, now, would you?)
This really needs no explanation.
Yeah, they may trend from time to time in the high-fashion world, but fanny packs are not the way to tote the essentials to the office. Aside from the fact that probably can’t even fit your Kindle, let alone a full iPad or Surface Book Pro inside, it looks like you’re ready for a concert or a hike—and definitely not a day in the conference room.
Patent Leather Pants
Leather pants barely pass the office test, and that’s if you work in a creative environment. But patent leather is far too, well, far, for any office. The shiny, slick material is really only okay on a pair of otherwise neutral shoes at work, and that’s it.
Even though Vetements brought their own iteration of the Juicy tracksuit to the Parisian runway, this velour throwback should generally remain in the back of your closet for nostalgic purposes—unless, of course, you’re dressing as Paris Hilton for Halloween. But still, not at work.
The Same Outfit as Yesterday
Trust me: People will notice.
Arguably the ultimate distraction, any oversized hoops, chandeliers, and other earrings of the like will detract from whatever you’re saying and distract whomever you’re saying it to. So, if you’ve got a minute with the CEO, you’re not going to want him or her to be focused on the noise your jewelry is making rather than what you’re actually proposing or offering.
It doesn’t matter if your team won the Super Bowl or the World Series—leave the fan gear at home. After all, there’s arguably nothing worse than showing off your pride to your boss, if they happen to be a fan of the losing, opposing team. Especially if you didn’t know beforehand.
Remember Von Dutch? If you don’t, good. If you do, try to forget. Trucker hats may be a fun homage to the early aughts, but they’re no way to cover up a bad hair day. Instead, use a jelly-based pomade to slick strands back into a tight bun.
A Super-Long Manicure
Talon nails are seriously problematic for typing, and even more annoying if you’re tapping them on a table. They also happen to be dirt magnets, which is just gross, TBH.
If you’re gonna wear a chain wallet, you may also well pair it with your JNCOs, too. But you’re not going to wear either—besides, you don’t want anyone to have access to your ID, credit cards, and the like just by swiping at your waistline.
Just like sequins, glitter is a no-no. Scroll up and see why.
In case you missed the memo, hot pants are nothing but teensy, tiny shorts—so short, in fact, they’re pretty much only worn by models in photo shoots and by some in the confines of their own home. And if your job isn’t the same as, say, Chrissy Teigen’s, rethink the micro-sized bottoms for something far more forgiving.
Large Cocktail Rings
Glamorous, yes. Gaudy, definitely. While cocktail rings may be the perfect accessory for a black-tie affair, a giant emerald or similar stone looks entirely inappropriate for your 3:oo p.m. coffee meeting.
This hairstyle stops being cute around college. Which means it’s a big styling mistake for work. It’s doubtful looking like Pippi Longstocking was the goal of your outfit’s vibes.
If you have an Instagram account, you understand: There are a slew of women who layer on copious amounts of makeup, using endless coats of foundation, luminizers, and bronzers to sculpt and contour, along with lots of lipstick and eyeshadow, too—which is just entirely too much effort for work, TBH.
Obscene Amounts of Diamonds
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. That’s a fact. But they’re not your BFF at work—in fact, they’re just a legitimate liability.