Wear This, Not That: Rules for Appropriate Office Wear

I think one of the things I miss the most about coaching full time is the wardrobe. The kids are great and all, but let’s be real – the ability to wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY to my job was probably coaching’s biggest perk. Appropriate pool attire includes everything from business casual to athletic-ware to a bathing suit so it’s not too difficult to decide if your outfit is acceptable. The main rule is if you’re showing more skin than you do in your bathing suit, put something over it.

Needless to say, my wardrobe needed a little boost when I entered the fulltime world of finance this fall. Our office might be business casual, but my stockpile of Lululemon leggings and UNH Swimming T-Shirts definitely doesn’t make the cut any more.

In a modern workplace it can be really hard to toe the line between “cute and fashionable but still professional” and “go home to change ASAP!” You don’t want to completely lose your personal style but you also want to appear pulled-together. Here’s a few tips for getting a work wardrobe started:

  1. Buy a few business staples like a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, or nice button-down. You don’t have to have enough “work-only” clothes to wear a new outfit every day for a month. Get a few, quality, well-fitting pieces that you can pair with other things you already have in your closet.
  2. Divide your closet into 3 sections: “Work” for clothes that are business appropriate, “Weekend” for clothes to wear only outside of the office, and “Halloween” for clothes that should only be worn as part of a costume (or possibly should just be donated to Goodwill). Keeping your clothes physically separated in your closet will make early morning decisions on what to wear a lot less stressful.
  3. No boobs, no butts, no bellies. It’s a rule to live by. If any of those things are hanging out, you should change ASAP.

If you have on an outfit and you’re still not sure if it’s okay, here’s a “Wear This, Not This” list to help you decide. If it falls under the “Wear This” category you are all set to walk out the door, if it falls under “Not This” you may want to reconsider.

 Wear This . . . Opaque tights or leggings in black, gray, or tan.  NOT That . . . Fishnet, colored, or designed stockings.


Wear This . . . Dresses that go approximately to knee length and cover most of your chest. NOT That . . . Dresses that you might wear to a club or party, have cutouts or slips, have a short hemline.

Wear This . . . Necklines that are approximately in line with your armpits. NOT That . . . Deep, plunging neck lines that show cleavage (or close to it).

Wear This . . . Leggings with a shirt or dress that completely covers your front and back, hem should reach the bottom of your finger tips. NOT That . . . Leggings with a short top that exposes your front or bum.

What to Wear With Leggings

Wear This . . . Dress sandals with straps. NOT That . . . Flip flops, crocs, or sandals without a back.

Wear This . . . Dress shoes with a kitten heel or heel 3 inches or less. NOT That . . . Fancy shoes you would wear to the club, lots of glitter or sparkle, heels 4 inches or more. Also don’t wear Uggs to the office. Just NO.

High Heels

Wear This . . .  Nice, fitted clothing that makes your natural shape stand out, makes you have clean, smooth lines, is comfortable to wear. NOT That . . . Clothes that are too tight or clingy, clothes that are uncomfortable and produce bulges.

Wear This . . . Undergarments that are comfortable and are unnoticeable under your clothing (that’s why they call them UNDER-wear). NOT That . . . Undergarments that are brightly colored, too tight, or are plainly visible underneath clothing.

Tank Tops

Wear This . . . Comfortable sweaters, athletic wear that has company logo. NOT That . . . Sweatshirts, sweatpants, pajamas, athletic wear that supports a certain team.

Wear This . . . T-shirts with generic designs like flowers or paisley on them . NOT That . . . T-shirts with large graphic designs or sayings (it’s great that you’re the “World’s Biggest Belieber!” but let’s keep Justin out of the office).

Wear This . . . anything you’d wear it to church or visiting Grandma. NOT That . . .  Anything that was part of a Halloween costume.

I hope these tips help you dress to impress!


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