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What Not to Wear to Work

My Image Expert’s image consultants help many individuals develop practical and stylish clothing solutions that are suitable for the office or a job interview.  A professional image should consist of clean, polished, stylish and comfortable clothing that will successfully express your professionalism and career goals.  Your image should represent the job you want not the job you have and successfully integrate the identity of the company in the process.  When selecting career clothing it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the office dress code.  Many people assume what is acceptable to wear to work and overlook the basic rules of a professional wardrobe.  Every office has at least one person who breaks the rules with little regards to the corporate dress code established for employees.  Our image consultants have the inside tips on “What not to Wear to Work” to minimize wardrobe malfunctions in the office.  Whether you are interviewing for a new job, applying for a promotion or have just been promoted; follow these simple rules to ensure your professional image is helping - not hurting your career goals.

Head Gear and Commuter Accessories:  Before you step into the office be sure to remove all of your headgear including hats and sunglasses. Wearing a hat indoors is considered impolite and instantly draws negative attention. Removing your head accessories inside an office or home is considered to be sign of respect and good manners.  To be politically correct, one should also remove hats anytime you're in a place of worship, restaurant, cafe or elevator.  In a professional environment one should avoid wearing a baseball cap on their way to work because once it is removed, you will have hat head.  Your hair should be cleaned and properly groomed when you step into the office.  It is important to allow your co-workers and employer an unobstructed view of your face to ensure effective communication and eye contact. Hats make it impossible to see your face and turning the brim sideways is  unacceptable, not mention; no one will take you seriously! 

Other things to avoid are commuter accessories like sunglasses, head phones and blue tooth devices.  Take your sunglasses off your face and head when you walk in to the lobby.  Place them into a protective case and tuck them away in your briefcase or lab-top bag.  Be sure to remove your headphones from your ears and around your neck before you step into the office.  Some companies will allow their employers to wear headphones while working.  If you work in a creative industry like graphic design or CAD design, the majority of work is computer related with minimal person to person contact and you may have headphones on all day while listening to music.  While this may help time pass; it is  considered disrespectful and may annoy other employees.  If your goals are to grow within a company then avoid headphones at all costs!

Back Packs or Fanny packs:  Leave the backpacks at home or trade it in for a professional briefcase or lab-top bag.  The only time you should wear a back pack is if you’re a college student, camping or hiking up the mountains.  There’s nothing worse than seeing a middle aged man or young professional wearing a suit and backpack.  Not only does it look ridiculous but rest assured that you will not be taken seriously by your co-workers.  If you find it necessary to take a bag to work with you for a lab-top or after work gym session, than invest in a professional carrying bag.  Try to find a dark brown or black leather bag that is simple and basic.  Avoid cheap materials, logos, graphics and duffle bags.  Our image consultants recommend a leather bag from Mat & Nat or any of the following:

  •  Zegari Barcelona Bag
  • Acme Slim Cargo Bag
  • Tumi Alpha Limited Edition T-Pass Bag

A stylish lab-top or leather carrying bag is hard to come by for men.  If you need help finding a great bag for work than you may want to contact one of our personal shoppers or image consultants who have unlimited brand recommendations to give you.  Whatever you do, avoid the backpack and fanny pack entirely.  

Annoying Ties:  Avoid wearing ties that are distracting colors and patterns.  Never use your ties to spread holiday cheer through the office or to amuse a co-worker with silly graphics and prints.  Your ties should match your suit and shirt and compliment the color contrasts between the two.  Wearing fabrics other then silk is never a good idea and will make your suit look cheap.  Try to find silk ties that have a dark base color like Navy, Burgundy or Black with subtle printed or pattern designs.  Keep your mistletoe ties for holiday parties amongst friends (if you dare) and maintain a specific level of professional and good taste when selecting hidden conversation ties.

Jewelry:  Men should avoid wearing jewelry other than a watch and wedding band.  This includes silver/gold hardware or brand name hardware that can be found on certain designer shoes.  D&G is notorious for branding their mens dress shoes with silver hardware or buckles.  Keep it simple and clean without dangling distractions.

Leather Bomber Jackets:  If your job requires business professional or business casual attire then avoid wearing leather jackets, specifically bomber jackets.  When wearing dress slacks, suits and blazers, one should invest a dress coat that is long in length like trench coat.  A nice cashmere or wool coat usually will do the trick.  Leather coats are considered a casual and relaxed style and should not be mixed with career type clothing.  Keep your leather coats for social events or gatherings where jeans and sweaters are acceptable.

Worn-out Shoes:  Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes.  When your shoes are clean and polished it illustrates your attention to fine details.  Scuffed up shoes paired with a crisp suit looks sloppy and dirty.  When taking the extra step to present a clean and polished image in the work place, many forget to include footwear.  Try to find a black leather lace-up shoe for suits; lace-ups tend to hold up longer then slip on styles.  They also look  professional and have a pointed toe that makes the foot appear longer and leaner instead of wide and heavy.

Be sure to include these “What not to Wear” tips into your office wardrobe to ensure a professional image.  Keep your headphones and hats for the commute home and remember to maintain a professional image at all times.  Plan out your work wardrobe in advance to ensure your garments are clean and pressed.  For more information or help regarding a professional image please contact one of our image consultants who can assist your further.  You can also read our men's makeover article for more "what not to Wear" tips!

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