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How to Dress for the Office

Every girl stresses over what she should wear to the workplace. Some places have stricter guidelines than others and it can be hard to determine what is acceptable. With internships and interviews around the corner, it can be hard not to worry about what you’re going to wear. But if you’ve ever had these fears, here’s a basic break down on what’s acceptable for each occasion.


Each workplace’s dress code will be different. But work casual does not mean your every day ripped jeans and hoodie (try to avoid the leggings as well). Instead, swap out these pieces for a clean-cut pair of khakis, or a pair of dark wash jeans if they’re allowed.  Opt for a stylish top, but stay away from anything with slogans on it. Trade out the heels for a comfy pair of boots or flats.

Business Casual

This outfit does not require a suit, but is much more sophisticated than jeans. This is the look that will most likely be what you wear on a day-to-day basis. This may be something you will also wear for an interview. You should always be neat and put together.  Look for slacks that fit straight and don’t cling to the body. Skirts should not be skintight; they should not come more than an inch or two above the knee. Avoid t-shirt materials; instead get detailed blouses with interesting prints.  Layer with structured blazers or a nice cardigan.

Business Attire

This is the most conservative of the looks. Each item should be the appropriate length and the fit should be perfect. The girl’s should always be covered. Stick to suits in neutral colors, but keep it from looking boring by finding one made with interesting textures. Pumps are acceptable, except anything above 3 ½ inches is too high for the workplace. Dresses are ok too. Just pay attention to the hemline and nothing strapless.

Semi-Formal Event

This is not the time to whip out your favorite club dress. You don’t need a dress as glamorous as the Oscars either. Your outfit should still be appropriate for the time and place. Stick to cocktail dress with simple shapes like a sheath dress. Find one that has special details like lace panels or pleating. Dress it up with accessories.


If you are ever worried about what to wear to work, it is always better to overdress than under. Your employer would rather see an employee that takes pride in looking professional. It only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, so make it a good one by taking the initiative to wear the proper attire.

Olivia is a Professional Communications in Emerging Media student at the University of Wisconsin - Stout. Currently the Campus Correspondent for Stout's chapter, she hopes to find a career in journalism. Originally from Milwaukee, Olivia has put her city life on hold to follow her dreams. You can follow her at her Instagram or blog, Olivia Marie.
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