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The Ladders : How women who dress business casual are perceived in the office

Women often feel stifled or judged at the office, and that includes how they dress. Stress around dress is usually on the confusing category of business casual. While the rules of work attire and dressing up overall have relaxed in the last century (we once dressed formally to shop at the grocery store), women likely face challenges. SimplyHired said less than half of American workplaces have a dress code, so business casual is here to stay. But how are women looked upon for dressing down? Should women hoodie up like Zuckerberg, put on a fitted pantsuit like Clinton, or navigate something in-between?

First, women are doing well at work. They outearn their spouses, they read on how to strategize their career and they lead in the office despite the many challenges they face. Should a fashion choice influence how all those other qualities are perceived by coworkers or interviewers?

No, but it does. Here is how women are perceived for their dress:

Dressing is branding

Your style of dress is a tool in your branding kit. “My clients have said, ‘When I’ve had a wardrobe designed, I felt better with all men at the boardroom table’ and that’s what a wardrobe should achieve, a sense of ease,” said Mary Lou Andre, Founder of Dressing Well, “If you don’t manage your brand, your brand manages you.”

Repurpose clothing as a tool to achieve goals. Get rid of the 50 to 80 percent of your wardrobe that causes you to second guess perception of how you’ll look for a new client meeting, or even just putting yourself together, and dress simply and sharp, to achieve a great brand and yourself feel on top of goals.

Women are bucking norms without as much consequence

Some women now go braless at work and choose to wear clothing that doesn’t cover tattoos. The rules of dress and work have changed, without hits to pay or hours for the most part.

However, that can backfire and make women appear less professional, especially in professional environments. “Know your audience,” Samantha Brown, a New York City celebrity stylist who serves close to fifty clients a month, told The Ladders.

“If you’re in a higher-up position you can set the tone. Consider who you’re interacting with and your goals for the day. If you need to be relatable you can wear something a little more casual,” maybe with a nice pair of shoes or a watch to set off the look. “If you need to command the room, it helps to dress up a little more,” said Brown, who helps design the signature looks for the boardroom to the bar.

Women who dress well are paid well

A 2016 study found a correlation between women dressing well and being paid better at work. A survey by PayScale found the same as well for both men and women, with those who dress in business attire making nearly $20,000 more in salary than those who wear uniforms. It might just be that those higher-paying workplaces, perhaps a law firm or government office, require a skirt or a suit, but it might also influence state of mind.

“Are you trying to get promoted? It’s important to look like you’re there to work. There are things that are always off-limits, even for business casual, like flip-flops, athleisure, and athletic wear. It’s important to stay within the parameters of a professional appearance,” Brown said.

People who dress well are stronger thinkers

Another study found people who put on business attire, like a suit or skirt and blouse, processed information differently as they felt the power to link abstract concepts more easily. It said, “The findings demonstrate that the nature of every day and ecologically valid experience, the clothing worn, influences cognition broadly, impacting the processing style that changes how objects, people, and events are construed.” So dressing smart makes you feel smart.

Business casual usually looks fine for women in more relaxed offices

Business casual has very broad strokes. It depends on office expectations and if you’re new around the place. If you are interviewing for a position, including dressing up as part of your checklist to prepare. You can always scale it down if you notice tee shirts populating cubicles.

“As a new hire pay close attention to your colleagues and how you’re being perceived. I say this over and over because it’s important for perception: You have to dress like you are ready to be there to do your job. I always encourage my clients to elevate a little more and have a finger on the pulse of what’s professional while keeping it trendy,” Brown reiterated.

The expectations on women and how they dress are unfortunately different. “Even showing a shorter hemline or neckline can be perceived as flirtatious or sexy, or simply unprofessional. Women have to be more careful. Look like you’re there to do your job so no one questions your authority to do it,” Brown said.

Following the leader is always a good look

“Look to your leaders,” said Brown. “What’s the tone your higher-ups are setting? You should always take your cues. If your CEO is in a hoodie, scale down within reason, maybe ditch the sport coat. But don’t let it backfire by thinking you can get away with any look. When in doubt, keep it a little more conservative.”

“You can never get in trouble dressing well. You can find yourself in trouble or being questioned by authorities at work when dressing down,” said Brown.

Stylist Edith Head once said, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it” so go get your promotion and your flats.

Via The Ladders : What exactly is business attire?

Understanding what business attire is and how to incorporate it into your day-to-day work might be confusing, especially since the term has dated itself in recent years.

With the workforce adapting to modern time and allowing workers to ditch the stiff suits and ironed skirts for more comfortable styles, it’s important to know where and when it’s necessary to dust off the old suit jacket or slip into something more versatile (and comfortable) like the handy sweater vest often seen strapped on business-types today.

In a recent study on office clothing policies, a whopping 71% of 2,000 participants said being able to wear casual clothing allows them to “feel more accomplished throughout the day” because by being able to wear more comfortable clothing, they think less about how often they are uncomfortable in clothes that wouldn’t support them. Employees are even willing to pass up raises in order to dress down at the office. A third of employees said they’d prefer an informal dress code to an extra $5,000 in their salary, according to a Randstad US survey exploring American employees’ attitudes regarding workplace fashion.

“The nature of work — where, when and how it gets done — has changed dramatically over the past several years, and many of those changes (open offices, remote work) have ultimately contributed to a less formal workplace,” said Randstad US CEO Traci Fiatte in a press release. “It’s great to empower your employees to dress for their day, as well as show their personality, but it is equally important for employers to set some clear guidelines to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.”

What you wear to work can also have an impact on how professionalism is perceived. A study that looked at how male and female dentists and lawyers dressed at work found that people preferred lawyers and dentists who wore professional and formal clothing because people believed they were friendlier and better at their job by how they dressed. Formal clothing also allowed people to feel more forward and trusting to distill personal information to both professionals.

With more and more companies leaning toward “The Midtown Uniform” as the standard everyday work uniform, it’s an interesting time to finally figure out what exactly can you wear to work?

What is business attire?

There are many different forms of business attire today in the office. Traditional business attire or business professional consist of wearing items you’d expect to see in an office. For men, that’s a suit or sport coat, adorned with a crisp dress shirt, slacks, ties, and leather shoes. Traditional business attire for women consists of skirt suits or pantsuits along with blouses or shirts, along with stockings and heeled, toe-closed shoes.

But business attire has changed throughout the years and it’s tricky depending on what you do and where you work, Stitch Fix stylist Layne Cross explained to Ladders.

“The term ‘business attire’ has taken on a broader meaning over the years, and what’s appropriate workwear for one industry might not be for others,” Cross said recently. “It’s important to take the time to do your research about the culture and dress code of your company to establish a rotation of work-appropriate outfits.”

Cross said a classic suit and tie or “A-line” dress and pumps might be more suitable in traditional office environments like law firms and banks, but more companies are encouraging a laid back business casual look, which is considered less formal than traditional business wear but still gives off an impression that you are working in a professional environment.

What is business casual?

Cross said it’s often acceptable to push your workwear boundaries past the boring slacks and button-up combo. For men, she suggests investing in the 5-pocket chino or double cloth button-down and for women, look toward the midi skirt or boyfriend cut blazer.

“These choices allow you to invest in new styles that can refresh your wardrobe at work and beyond while still looking polished and professional,” she said.

Depending on where you work, dress codes can mean many different things. Startups famously were the first to push for a better work-life balance, which included letting employees wear anything from shorts to jeans in the office.

While typical business casual doesn’t include jeans, there are ways to pull it off if you’re trying to avoid chinos. Esquire suggested looking for darker washes because they look more sophisticated than lighter jeans. They also said pair your jeans with good looking shoes (not sneakers) such as loafer or dress shoes, and most importantly, tuck in your collared shirt.

What to wear in the office in 2020

Cross noticed that trends typically on the covers of fashion magazines and plastered on style-first websites are being translated into the office.

She suggested women can incorporate a flowy top in trending prints such as snakeskin or floral, which can be versatile when paired with a dark wash jean that can take you from your desk to dinner in a matter of moments. As for men, classic flannel is making an appearance in the office today, which can be paired with a chukka boot as well as double for your weekend wardrobe.

No matter how casual the work environment, how you present yourself can communicate a lot,” Cross said. “That’s why it’s always important to wear properly fitting, wrinkle-free outfits to convey dedication to your role and communicate professionalism, which never goes out of style.”

For offices that like to pump the AC during the winter, Cross said women could have a denim jacket or cropped cargo jacket in colors like red or sage green to keep them stylish and warm, while men can reach for a knit blazer or logo-free hoodie that adds a modern look to a casual office.

Via Inventiva : How your clothing habits can boost your productivity at work?

The employees often get to hear certain encouraging phrases from their office department head. The most commonly used phrase is “there’s room for improvement”, “ work harder to achieve your goals” and etc. But, taking into consideration the number of hours you’ve to grind your head in the office, making the most of your time at the workplace can be critical.

Certain research shows that the clothes you wear can help you to put across a better performance. Being productive at your workplace would add growth to your career graph. In fact, at times we do watch actors rehearsing with certain clothing pieces which give them to feel more like their character. Similarly, business professionals don attire which speaks volumes about their professionalism.

Now, you may hold a different opinion, but your clothes and fashion statement leave a tinge of an impression on the other people whom you may come across. Nonetheless, the question may crop up in your mind about the significance of apparels on your personality. So, the answer lies in every detailing which your fashion choice communicates unconsciously or intentionally to others.

Even the kind of glasses you wear would take no time to become your style statement at your workplace. It is advisable to devote some precious time to choose your attire wisely before heading towards your workplace.

How does clothing impact your productivity?
Every detail about your presentation communicates something. When you’re grooming or dressing, try to wear outfits which considerably voice your stand or put across a line of a message which you want to communicate. Browse down to check out a few tips to enhance your significance in the workplace.

Types of business attires:


A casual dress code can always save time, however, wearing one at the workplace can increase focus. It would help you to feel less anxious and you wouldn’t have to invest much to don casual items to work. However, you should avoid wearing casual wear with clients and in interviews.

Smart casuals

It is another casual business attire with a stylish twist. It can be worn for informal office settings. Smart casuals will show your professional look that communicates that you do maintain tidiness and care about your looks.

Business casual

Though many classic business staples are used in business casual wear, there are certainly picked apparel like khakis. It would be appropriate to wear them when you’re unsure about the meeting setting. It will help to reflect your open-mindedness and would help boost your confidence. Check out amazon sale offers today to get a variety of business casuals at a discounted price.

Business professional

Professional attire is a traditional wear for the workplace. It creates a social distance. In a socially distant setting, people often address them with a certain title which would show respect for them and would help to boost confidence. For instance, people donning professional attire are addressed with Sir or Ma’am rather than calling them by their first name.

Why clothing habits are required in the workplace?
We often process visual details instantly through a method called thin-slicing. Our brain takes a millisecond to make judgements based on the new stimulus. The first impression is a part of the fast-paced mental process of thin-slicing. Hence, we often end up judging a book by its cover.

You must have seen that your seniors and people in the higher position follow a dress code. They dress more formally which helps them to earn respect from the other dealing party or juniors. You may choose your dress wisely to enhance your productivity in the workplace.

The most important aspect of choosing your dress code wisely before heading to your workplace is that people would be willing to listen to you. If you take intentional command of how to dress and present, the road would lead to empowerment and would help in accomplishing your goals.

Via Quartz At Work : There’s a very simple hack for your work wardrobe

We go to work often. We wear clothes every day. Deciding how to dress for the office shouldn’t be hard.

So how come mornings often start with a long, time-wasting moment of indecision and outfit changes before we finally manage to decide what to wear? And many times only to find, by 11am, that the chosen outfit feels wrong anyway: Tight or revealing in all the wrong places, scratchy, sweaty, unflattering.

One answer to the question of what makes dressing for work hard is, perhaps ironically, the culture of fast fashion. It means we have more clothes than most people owned generations before us. Clothing analysts have started to suggest that we’re now beyond “peak clothes,” the zenith that saw the average American consume nearly 70 garments per year in the early 2000s. In October 2019 a research note from Morgan Stanley suggested that clothing as an industry was entering a state of structural decline: prices were continuing to fall but consumption was not rising. This indicates that clothes-buying may have hit a ceiling. Morgan Stanley’s analysts also wondered whether increasing environmental awareness was making people buy less—a prospect that has certainly rattled the CEO of H&M, one of the big retailers feeling the pain of declining growth.

Whether or not you have separate “work” and “home” clothes, dress carefully or casually, it’s likely that most people will have more pieces than their predecessors. The manifold inputs complicate what should be a simple equation, and can lead to indecision, sometimes to the point of dressing paralysis.

In a recent (and rare) session of home organization, I hit on a hack that now seems obvious, but has solved that morning issue to a surprising degree. I went through all my clothes, checking that none needed mending and that they were all appropriate to the weather in the coming season. But when I put them away, I reordered them. Marie Kondo’s advice to store things of the same category together has influenced my home organization to at least some degree. But in this case, instead of putting like with like (sweaters in one drawer, all skirts hung together), I realised there was a different designation to be made: clothes I sometimes or often wear to work vs those I never do. I put all the work clothes together in a separate place.

This has been quietly transformative. When I get dressed for work, I open one drawer, and look at one short stretch of hanging space. The difference is this: It cuts out the time I used to spend looking at all my clothes—including all those I would never wear to the office—and wondering why there seemed to be so much choice, and yet nothing to wear.

It’s also shown me where the gaps are: I have enough work skirts (three) and probably enough trousers (4 pairs; I’d like one more for winter.) I have enough socks and sweaters. When it comes to work tops, I rely on a few generic dark singlets that in summer I wear on their own, and in winter cover with a warm layer.

Men’s clothing allows for fewer variations perhaps, and for a long time male “workwear” was fairly simple: A suit, shirt, and a tie. But with the relaxation of many workplace dress codes, that’s changed, and largely for the better, since men are increasingly able to express their personalities and preferences through dressing for work. (Of course, the new, almost-anything-goes code might mean that men are experiencing more of those “wish-I-hadn’t-worn-this-shirt” moments, though most will still be spared the misery of ill-fitting tights.)

Other factors can complicate the simple technique. If I’m cycling an hour to work, I need to wear sports clothes and separately assemble an outfit to put on at the office (my classic mistake is to forget footwear). But that is still made easier by having all my work clothes in one place. The flipside of the reorganization, meanwhile, is that because my “free time” clothes are separate, I wear the flamboyant pieces more often.

Via The Ladders : 4 quick tips to put together an outfit for the office in a hurry

Life gets hectic and it can feel like there’s not enough time to look put together and professional, but that is simply not the case. I promise that if you put in some prep work, you can absolutely look polished and professional even when you’re rushing out of the house in the morning. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and swapping out a few items in your wardrobe will make a huge difference in how you look and feel. Instantly amp up your style while still getting dressing quickly! Here are four quick tips to help you put together an outfit for the office in a hurry.

When time is of the essence, opt for one piece outfits

When you’re trying to put together an outfit for the office in a hurry, there’s nothing better than a one-piece outfit. A shirt dress is a perfect one-piece outfit that can be worn in almost any office environment. To keep things a little more modern, try out a midi dress like the one I’m wearing. As the seasons change, sweater dresses and jumpsuits are also great options that save on time. Any time you can reduce the number of items you have to style together, you’ll likely be able to get ready more quickly.

Swap out your cotton shirt for a blouse or a nice sweater

While cotton is comfortable and easy to throw on, it can often appear extremely casual and a bit frumpy. Swapping out your cotton top for something a little more polished but just as comfortable will instantly make you appear more put together while still effortlessly chic.

There are so many blouse options out there that look great and don’t break the bank. Opting for a top in a silk or chiffon material will create a more dressed up appearance while still giving you the ease of throwing on a cotton top.

A nice sweater is also a great option, especially as the weather cools off! Try a bell sleeve sweater for a trendy take on a classic garment.

Invest in a great pair of shoes

Investing in great shoes that you can wear with various outfits will help you put together an outfit for the office in a hurry.

If you’re looking for comfortable flats that look great as well, I’m a firm believer that Cole Haan flats are the absolute best. They sell a variety of flats made with Nike air technology, and they’re all super comfortable. I tend to invest in a good pair of Cole Haan’s every few years, and they have become pretty much the only brand of flats I wear. I love how comfortable they are, and they are made really well, which means that they last.

If you’re into boots, chestnut brown boots work well because you can pair them with pretty much any color including black.

Swapping out your flip flops or casual sneakers for a comfortable pair of flats or boots will make you appear more polished and less like you’re a school kid. Something about sneakers always makes me think of being on the playground as a child, and that’s not the impression I want my style to give off.

Swap out your blue jeans for colored denim

While I’m a huge fan of blue jeans, swapping out your basic blue denim for colored denim can make your look a bit more formal and less casual. Dark jeans can definitely be dressed up, however, a pair of black skinny jeans appear more chic and professional. I always love black, but if you like color, mix things up! So many brands offer a wide range of color options that instantly bump up the style of your outfit.

Colored denim is a great option for something a little more formal than traditional blue jeans, but still more casual than a pair of slacks. Colored denim is especially great for business casual offices where you want to look a bit more professional, but still, want the ease of throwing on your favorite jeans in the morning.