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11 Things You Should Never Wear to the Office (Like Ever)

what not to wear to work
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In a world where crop tops are seen as chic and Kim Kardashian’s skin-tight spandex outfits make up the majority of our fashion boards on Pinterest, the line between trendy and trashy is more blurred than ever. So just in case you’re as confused as the rest of us twentysomethings struggling to be taken seriously in the professional world, here is what not to wear to work– under any circumstance.

1. Crop Tops

I have my own personal feelings (aka hatred) toward crop tops, so I might be a bit biased, but I personally believe you should never even so much as look at a crop top when planning your work outfits. If you’re going to a music festival or a rock concert, great. Rock your crop top and high-waisted short-shorts. You do you. But when you step into the office, you should exude professionalism – and exposing your bare midriff to your co-workers is closer to sexual harassment than it is to being professional.

2. Rompers

Okay, I know I said this was a list of what not to wear to work, but in the case of rompers, there are a few exceptions. Here’s what you need to know about wearing rompers to work:

  • If it doesn’t have straps: Don’t wear it.
  • If it shows cleavage: Don’t wear it.
  • If your ass cheeks are hanging out: Don’t wear it.
  • If (you think) it covers your ass cheeks: Snap a picture, send it to a trustworthy friend, and if she approves, wear the romper.

Basically, proceed with caution when it comes to rompers. And always, always, always pair them with a blazer.

3. Flip-Flops

Let’s all let out a big “UGH” on this one. We all know that one girl in the office who thinks it’s perfectly fine to wear basic white flip-flops to work. You do not want to be this girl. Wearing flip-flops to the office is not only lazy; it’s ugly. You can’t rock a blazer with flip-flops. You just can’t. If you truly don’t feel like wearing heels or flats, pick out a cute pair of sandals. Sandals, as long as they’re gladiator or they’ve got a little bling, are always an acceptable choice during the spring and summer (depending on how your particular office feels about open-toe shoes).

4. Sheer Blouse

If you can see your bra through your shirt – even just the outline – either put a tank under it or change clothes. I know sheer blouses are the new thing in the fashion world, but in the professional world, this is still considered inappropriate. The same rule applies to your underwear. Yes, we all know it’s there, so these what not to wear to work rules may seem ridiculous. But in order for your co-workers and bosses to take you seriously, you have to take yourself seriously. You should want people to listen to your ideas, and that gets difficult when they’re distracted by the hot pink bra under your white blouse.

5. Holey Jeans

The same rules I laid out for crop tops also apply to holey jeans. Holey jeans at rock concerts? Awesome. Holey jeans in a business meeting? Inappropriate.

6. Mini Skirts and Short-Shorts

Pencil skirts are an office essential, but just like with rompers, everything should be covered at all times. If you’re on the fence about your skirt, try it on and bend over. If everything’s in place and covered, go to work. If you’re giving your mirror a show, change clothes. The same goes for shorts. Shorts are becoming increasingly common in the workplace, but you need to make sure your shorts are an appropriate length. And never, under any circumstance, wear denim shorts. Ever.

7. Anything Wrinkled

If you don’t have time to iron your blouse before work, don’t wear it. The only thing worse than showing up to work with wet hair is showing up with a wrinkled blouse. It just exudes pure laziness. If you’re not into ironing, stay away from fabrics that wrinkle easily, like rayon and polyester.

8. Leggings as Pants

No matter what the fashion world tries to tell you, never forget the famous words of Queen Blair Waldorf: “Leggings are not pants.” This especially applies to your office wardrobe. In college, leggings and huge sweaters were pretty much a way of life – and that was fine. But now you’re a big girl in the real world, and it’s time to start dressing like it. So put on your big girl pants and go shopping.

Disclaimer: If you wear thick leggings to work and your top covers all the junk in your trunk (front and back), your wardrobe choice is fine (I guess) and I’m not talking to you.

9. Yoga Pants or Sweatpants

I don’t care if you’ve got those new yoga pants that look like business slacks. Anything that could be confused as sweatpants are what not to wear to work. Ever.

10. Strapless Bra

If your outfit requires a strapless bra, it’s probably a safe bet to put this on your what not to wear to work list. If you must wear it, at least pair it with a blazer or an office-appropriate cardigan to keep your shoulders and cleavage covered.

11. Hats

Whether it’s a regular baseball cap, a comfy beanie, or a fancy fedora, it doesn’t belong at work. You may think you’re being fashionable, but the older and more traditional higher-ups might think differently. If you’re truly having a bad hair day, spray in some dry shampoo and throw your hair into a messy bun.

Follow Elise on Twitter: @elisewillrikard | Instagram: @elisewillrikard

Last modified on May 26th, 2023

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