Workplace fashion is a hotly debated topic. What is acceptable? What is taboo? In Part 1 of this two-part series, “Workplace Fashion: What to Avoid,” we discussed several office no-nos when it comes to what to wear at work. This week, we are going to explore this topic in more detail and discuss how your appearance could affect how your coworkers, clients, and superiors view you.
Common Workplace Fashion Mistakes And How to Avoid Them
- Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery: If your office does not have a clearly defined dress code, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is and is not appropriate. A good rule of thumb is to imitate your colleagues. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as they say. It is also a great way to gauge the level of professionalism in your office. Are your co-workers showing up to work in jeans and a polo or are they wearing suits and ties? It is best for you to follow the same dress pattern.
- Less is More: Wearing neutral colors can become dull and boring, negatively affecting your morale. As future NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders once famously said, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” However, there is a fine line when it comes to wearing colors in the workplace. As the old saying goes, less is more. Wearing bright colors from head to toe can become a distraction in the office and can make you look unprofessional. Instead, choose colorful accent pieces, such as a tie, a pair of shoes, or a scarf, to give you that added brightness you desire.
- Keep Makeup Professional: Elaborate makeup, especially around the eyes – bold eyeliner, and bright eye shadow – are very much trending nowadays. However, there is a time and a place for such fashion. The workplace is neither the time nor the place. Office makeup should be clean and professional. Period.
- Accessories: With accessories, we once again come back to that old adage – less is more. To keep your look professional and mature, avoid bulky earrings and large, dangling bracelets. Keep it simple and try to stick to one or two pieces of jewelry.
How Workplace Fashion – What You Wear – Affects Performance
According to Dr. Karen Pine, fashion psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, dressing too casual at work can diminish focus, hurt productivity, and also affect the way your co-workers and superiors view both you and your performance. “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment,” says Dr. Pine. “A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
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