The 10 Commandments Of Women’s Workplace Fashion

As a young 20-something with a business degree, I am fully aware that I know virtually nothing. I have no real tangible skills, no noteworthy experience, no professional certifications, nothing. However, a year of walking busy uptown streets, waiting in line at Starbucks, and sitting in on meetings has taught me one thing: how to dress. Women of Corporate America are collectively making some thoroughly atrocious choices before showing up to work every morning, and quite frankly my eyeballs hurt from continually falling out of my head. So let’s get a few things straight here, once and for all. Imagine that these rules have been carved into two slabs of stone that are being delivered to you, except instead of coming down from a mountaintop, they’re being delivered from the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.

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1. You shall not put a few extra minutes of sleep above basic hair care. I know, you wake up early every morning and it gets old – so do the rest of us, lady. And if you’re rolling in here with wet hair, the rest of us can tell that you can’t handle it. So do yourself a favor and blow-dry that piece. Same goes for that thing that girls with curly hair do when it looks crunchy and hard. I don’t know what kind of industrial-strength adhesive you’re using to “prevent flyaways,” but ain’t nothin’ movin’ outta there, honey, much less flying. Hair is not crunchy. Quit it.

2. You shall not walk into work wearing rubber monstrosities on your feet. This includes, but is not limited to, flip flops, sneakers, rain boots, and – I am choking back spit up – Crocs. I get it, walking to work is cool, and it sucks doing it in heels. It really does, I know. But good grief, get yourself a pair of plain black (or brown, see Commandment #8) flats from Target and light your Crocs on fire. If you’re an hour early and you run into your boss or your boss’s boss’s boss on the way in, he won’t remember that you’re early; he’ll remember that your footwear made him dry heave.

3. You shall not make for yourself an image of a slut. This includes covering up of the standard cleavage, midriff, upper thing, special bathing suit places, etc. This also includes your delicate underthings and their straps, lines, shapes, and patterns. If I can tell exactly what style and fabric your undies are, they are wrong. Take a little 360 in the morning and make sure that your unmentionables are also unseeable. While we’re at it, keep your heels under 3” and your skirts longer than 2” above your knee. Think I’m wrong? It’s your strip show we’re talking about here, hussy, not mine.

4. You shall honor your cubemates by not making them smell you. I mean any smell whatsoever: B.O., perfume, sweat, feet, smelly hand sanitizer, fragrance sticks (or whatever the fuck), anything. Some people actually do have allergic reactions to that stuff, but the rest of us have nose hairs and we’d all prefer them to not burn out of our noses in a fiery explosion. Just do us all a favor and take a whiff when you’re alone in the elevator. Note any exceptions and escalate accordingly.

5. You shall not steal from your mother’s wardrobe. However old you are, and however old your mom is, don’t wear her clothes. The year is 2013 and it’s about damn time we dress like it. Don’t touch the boxy blazers, nude tights, polyester blends, scrunchies, banana clips, weird patterns, whatever. Leave the magenta lipstick and blue eyeliner for different (and separate, good grief) occasions. When in doubt, ask your mom. If she likes it, throw it in the trash.

6. You shall not allow me to see your toes whilst you’re wearing a suit. Ladies, this is IMPORTANT. If you’re decked out in your power blazer and your power pants and it’s power o’clock, the easiest way to lose wardrobe credibility is letting loose your ugly troll feet in some strappy heels. Wearing a suit is about conveying dignity, self-respect, and professional aptitude. Strappy heels are about half-priced martinis at the hotel bar. If you’re wearing a suit and I can’t see your shoulders, elbows, knees, or calves, what the hell makes you think I want to see your toes? Knock it off.

7. You shall not sound like a drawer full of change whilst you walk through the office. I’m talking accessories here, ladies. Accessorizing is encourage and your pieces should be dainty, sweet, and of perceptually high quality. You’ll notice that those adjectives do not include “noisy,” “clangy,” “annoying,” “jangly,” or any other onomatopoeic reference. You should float silently through the office with the only exception being the click of power heels on a lobby floor. Keep your armful of bangles from Claire’s in the bottom of some drawer at home. Or better yet, in a hole in the ground.

8. Honor my digestive tract by matching your shoes to your belt. Please. Seriously. It’s so simple. Black with black, brown with brown, grey with grey, there is a pattern here, I hope you see it. If you think you can put black with brown (I had to close my eyes while I typed that) just do me a favor and put it on and look in the mirror and tell me if you think you’re ready for work. If the answer is yes, then no, you are not. No. Try again. NO.

9. You shall not murder Casual Friday. The Corporate Powers that Be have bestowed unto us the gift of dressing down at the end of the week. This is a gift that you should not punch in the face. Casual Friday code does not allow for you to wear any of the following: tank tops, t shirts, sports jerseys, sundresses, shorts, frayed/ripped jeans, overalls, scuba gear, a burlap sack, a nightgown, stripper heels (see Commandment #3) hoop skirts, or anything fucking “bedazzled.” A casual day at the office is still a day at the office, so don’t use it as an opportunity to let everyone know you’re actually a slob/floozy/Mets fan under all that business casual. Just keep it classy, girls.

10. You shall keep the closet wholly by revisiting it at least once a year. Go through and think about every piece that you own: If you had the chance to buy this again today, would you? Does it still fit? Is it still appropriate for the job role that you currently employ? Is it fucking “bedazzled”? One year gives you a whole set of seasons, holidays, fat days, skinny days, dressy days, and lazy days; if you haven’t worn it in that year, chances are it’s nothing but a placeholder for another great addition to your wardrobe. Take a step back once a year and look at what your clothes are saying about you. Do you wish they were saying something else? Why not make today the day to change that message for the better? After all, it’s really all about giving yourself the confidence to be your best and take the corporate world by storm. As long as you’re doing that, you’re okay.

Oh, and ladies… a little mascara never hurt anyone. TC mark

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