5 Things You Should Never Wear to Work

Nancy Anderson
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Casual work attire is becoming the norm as more millennials overtake the workforce and follow the example of trendy startups. Yet, most businesses still have a conventional environment, and clothing often sets the tone for how people view and interact with others. If you want to come across as a professional, learn to set standards in your personal dress code. Avoid these questionable clothing choices that could harm your reputation.

1. Anything With Holes or Stains

Dress liking a business professional doesn't mean you can't wear denim jeans or casual blouses. Just make sure your work attire is free of holes, tears, stains and anything that makes you look like you don't care about personal hygiene. While you may think your torn, discolored jeans are a work of art, your boss may think you aren't serious about building a career. Even if you're a great worker, managers might have reservations about promoting you or introducing you to influential people if you make careless wardrobe choices.

2. Baggy Clothes

No matter how clean they are, baggy clothes can make you appear sloppy and unprofessional. Your work attire should never be a distraction for you or your co-workers. Whether you're wearing a suit or jeans and a blazer, choose clothing with a neat, tailored appearance. If you hate the idea of getting up earlier in the morning, iron work attire the night before to avoid showing up in wrinkled clothing.

3. Activewear

Comfort is important, but it shouldn't be your first priority when picking work attire. Resist the temptation to don activewear at work, unless it can genuinely pass for business casual clothing. Wearing exercise clothing, such as runner's tights and yoga pants, to work is a relatively new trend, so many employers don't explicitly forbid them in the employee dress code. However, you should examine these types of clothing on a case-by-case basis to make sure they don't contain any semi-transparent materials or expose your body inappropriately.

4. Sweatshirts and Hoodies

Hoodies are like a portable hug you can slip on whenever you want to feel warm and cozy. Unfortunately, a work environment isn't the right place to get comfy and let your guard down. If you tend to get cold throughout the day, wear a sweater over a collared shirt or trade your hoodie for a buttoned blazer. That way, you can add or remove layers as needed. Unless you work at a gym, there are few good reasons to wear sweats at work.

5. Anything That Isn't Meeting-Appropriate

Anytime you're at work, you are representing the company. You never know when you might have to meet with a client or a senior manager, so it's wise to dress for success every day. Only choose work attire that's suitable for interviews and meetings, and pair it with simple accessories that add polish to a casual look.

Clothing designers are allowed to have a broad definition of "style." It's up to you to show good judgement when deciding which options are right for your work environment. Stick to work attire that distinguishes you as a mature, level-headed employee, and managers are more likely to take notice of your talents. What are some other business casual clothing choices you do or don't recommend for work?

Photo courtesy of Mathilda Samuelsson at Flickr.com


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  • Shirley M.
    Shirley M.

    I totally agree with every suggestion you made, especially he part about ironing and looking fresh and neat. I have tried over and over and .....explaining this to my friend. He just doesn't get it at all. I tell him he will never improve on his career if he continues the way he wears his clothes (wrinkled) everyday. He thinks his image (looks) are all he needs. I'm lost, don't. Know own else to wake him up. HELP!!!!!

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