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DRESSING FOR THE OFFICE: DOS AND DON’TS

01.02.16

Ever heard that advice that you should dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have? Oh, if only things were that simple. On first reading this guidance makes some sense, but with a little more thought the sentiment soon begins to unravel. What does dressing for the job you want entail? Wearing the most uptight suit you can muster? Aping Mark Zuckerberg by adopting a uniform of a T-shirt, jeans and trainers? The truth is there are a whole variety of ways to get it right and to get it wrong. From mastering casual Fridays to perfecting your accessorising, follow our tips for avoiding a dreaded workplace fashion faux pas.

DO: TRY A GRANDAD COLLAR

Don’t be misled by its name, a grandad collar shirt might be just the thing to breathe new life into your working wardrobe. After all, what’s not to like about a design than does away with the need for a necktie and collar altogether while offering a suitably smart alternative to traditional workwear.

Adding the design to your existing working wardrobe is satisfying simple too – just wear in place of a shirt and tie. Suddenly summer’s looking a lot less sweaty.

DO: SAVE YOUR SHOES

Scuffed shoes the scourge of your working day? The solution is surprisingly simple. Only wear your shoes in the office, so when you’re meeting people who matter, your footwear won’t tell the story of a perilous commute. The added bonus? Less wear = less wear and tear, so your work footwear will stay pristine for far longer.

What do you wear in their place on your journey in? Trainers. No not the casual sportswear kind but the contemporary sports-inspired kind.

DON'T: OVERDO PATTERN OR COLOUR

We’re the staunchest advocates of individualism in the office – who wants to live among a sea of indistinguishable suits? However, having recognisable personal style shouldn’t come at a cost to your ability to be taken seriously.

So, leave novelty ties at home (or better yet burn them), avoid loud print and make sure the colours you wear stay within the realm of the reserved.

Be seriously smart by instead opting for muted prints (micro polka dots, chalk stripes, micro houndstooth, faded checks) and incorporate tonal colour variations (shades of grey or navy) into your outfit to add quiet interest. Always remember, unless you work in fashion, it’s not a fashion show.

DON’T: SWEAT IT OUT

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls that constantly feels hot and find yourself on the losing side of the battle over the air conditioning, don’t suffer in (sweat-soaked) silence.

The problem may be what you’re wearing. We’re firm believers that the four-season suit is a myth. Just as you wouldn’t wear thick knitwear in summer, certain tailoring fabrics are too heavy-handed on days when the weather is warm.

Instead invest in some linen, which isn’t best worn aboard some yacht on the Riviera it turns out. From pure linen tailoring to suits that contain just a percentage of this lightweight fabric, there are many ways to wear at work.

It’s a smart move for those who don’t want their comfort in the workplace dictated by the whims of their workmates.

DON'T: OVERDO CASUAL FRIDAY

What constitutes as acceptable and unacceptable for casual Friday largely depends on your working environment – use whether or not you’re causing raised eyebrows as your yardstick. It’s helpful here too to stick to the adage that ‘it’s better to overdress than underdress’. Once you've walked into the office in some wildly inappropriate outfit, there’s no going back.

The best casual Friday outfits should acknowledge that yes, you’re aware that this is a chance to loosen up, but you also grasp that you’re in a workplace and will dress –semi – accordingly.

So, what should you actually wear? Stick with your suit (if you wear one) but grab a T-shirt or polo shirt instead of your usual suit and tie combo and - if you can - slip on a pair of minimal trainers instead of your usual formal shoes.  Easy. And no unintentional offence caused.