Dress for Success: The Rules of Casual Office Attire

Photo: Nick Heavican

What seems like the easiest rule to abide by (anything goes!) actually comes with its own set of problems. Very low-cut tops and super-short skirts, for example, are no-no's in any workplace, according to Sharyn Soleimani, a personal shopper at Barneys New York. "By calling attention to what you're wearing rather than what you're doing, you set yourself up for not being taken seriously." That can be especially undesirable if you meet with clients or mentor employees, as Facebook sales exec Rachel Steel Cohn does. "I wear jeans about half the time, but I always team them with a blazer, heels, and jewelry," she says. "It's that balance of looking polished and approachable." No matter how laid-back your office culture, remember that you're still at work, adds Domenica Paradisi, a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman: "You want to maintain a professional mind-set." So how casual is too casual? If you could go to a club, gym, or beach without changing first, you've gone too far. Make HR happy by heeding the guideline of never wearing low-cut, one-shoulder, racerback, strapless, or cropped tops; cutoffs, flip-flops, dirty or torn clothing, fake nails, visible lingerie, or workout wear. As for items like miniskirts, sheer blouses or skirts, and shorts? Proceed with caution.

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