Thursday, February 14, 2008

What to Wear to the Casual Office

Hi She She! First of all, I adore your newsletter! It is so witty and funny and I soooooo look forward to my morning break on Friday so I can hunker down with a Diet Pepsi and read alll about the fun and fabulous antics of She She Me, Shop Girl, Girly and Pretty Mama! I feel like you are all my own very best friends, and we all know that twirty girls always watch out for eachother.

That said, I need a bit of advice! I just started a new job in upper management in the software industry (a big move from my former job in banking!) and I am at a bit of a loss as to how to dress at the office. When I went in for my interviews, I wore the requisite dress, blazer and heels, and I was definitely overdressed compared to everyone else there. The employees are very low key, dressing mostly in khakis and polo shirts, and even the occasional denim, but I don't think I can pull that look off. I am in my (late) twirties and don't feel comfortable dressing like a college student. Help! Stumped in San Jose

Dearest Girl! You are not the first twirty girl to face this dilemma, especially when moving to a completely different industry. Banking is a much more staid and traditional atmosphere, whereas the software industry has a reputation for bike shorts and Birkenstocks. Since you are in management, however, it would be a mistake to go the über-casual route. However, this does not mean that you need to be all prim and buttoned-up. Adjust and adapt dearest girl!

Ditch the suits. Instead, dressy-casual trousers paired with a silky blouse and topped with a cropped jacket or cardigan will still project a professional appearance while blending in well with the more casual atmosphere. A great pair of oxfords and a leather bag to complete the look.
Another option would be a more casual type skirt, perhaps a twill, gabardine or khaki. Add a crisp white blouse or a figure skimming sweater and cinch with a wide leather belt. A great chunky necklace to accessorize and finish with leather pumps and a sleek tote. The look is sophisticated yet approachable.

Just keep in mind that as upper management it is up to you to set the "style" mood in the office. You may find that others will begin to lose the collegiate casual look and bump it up a notch!


She She Me said...

I also work in a casual office and this advice is spot on! The guys all seem to show up in board shorts and tees, and some of them can get away with it, but the girls need to bump it up a notch to be taken seriously!

Desirée Ha. said...

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE those shirts this those blouses with those ginormous bows which spells class, sexy, mature but have the cute-girl thing with it as well!

I've uploaded an image of an example for my blog here: