Fitness is definitely far more than just what you do for food and exercise. The whole way you take care of yourself inside and out is essential to defining your health and well-being.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It’s good advice, because whether they mean to or not, your coworkers and managers will judge you by your appearance. How you dress is part of your personal brand. It is also an important pillar of self-confidence and wellness. The better you dress and keep yourself groomed, the more of a message you are sending to others and yourself that you take pride in your work and your executive presence.
It is also a critical time to make a good first impression. According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. employers continued expanding payrolls in August, adding 315,000 positions, a 20 percent job growth. If you are starting a new job, or maybe starting to go to the office more often (for more on that read my post here), you may be wondering, what in the WORLD am I going to wear?
DAOFitLife’s got you – with the top 10 do’s and dont’s of fashion for the fall.
#1 DO a closet purge
Do it now. Get rid of anything that does not fit or does not flatter you. The best way to find out is to try everything on, just as if you were going shopping in your own closet. Whatever you feel meh or below about ditch.
Then organize. Separate your “can wear to work clothes” from your “date night” and weekend trend clothes. Do the same with your jackets. Put your leather jackets in one section, then your puffy coats, then your overcoats you can wear over work clothes.
If you read my post on getting into exercise again, you would do the same with your workout clothes.
You will be really happy you listened to this advice and it can be a great weekend project. In fact, binge watching and organizing clothes is one of my favorite guilty pleasures:)
Here is a great article that can help you decide what to keep and what to ditch.
#2 DO wear solid colors and clean lines
Solid colors are slimming and easy to accessorize. The same goes with basic patterns, like vertical lines. You don’t have to wear solid black or white – especially for fall, warm colors, jewel tones, greys and navy blues are really classy. For flattering shapes, opt for square shouldered blouses, pencil skirts, and the slightly relaxed full/straight leg pants. Ankle boots can be very versatile and worn with skinny jeans (if your office dress code allows). Leather boots with a flat heel are also great with skirts and easy to walk around in.
#3 DO balance black with bright colors
Black goes with everything, of course, but you don’t have to be bland and look like you are mourning the idea of going to work. I enjoy offsetting a black blazer with a brighter color underneath to balance it out. Another idea is to wear a black-based pattern, like with florals or stripes.
#4 DO embrace neutrals
Neutral does not have to mean boring. Taupes, greys, navy blue, and variations of off-white (eggshell, cream and ivory) can all be mixed and matched with jeans, slacks and skirts.
#5 DO take any new outfits for a “test drive” before going to the office.
This includes critical movements like sitting down, crossing your legs, bending over to grab a pen, reaching up, and walking down the street. This can identify an embarrassing problem like your skirt constantly riding up. It’s totally relatable when you see a woman furtively tugging at her hemline in the restroom or at a crosswalk, but you definitely don’t want that hanging over your head (and believe me, people notice.
#6 DO invest in an all-purpose simple tote or elegant backpack
A top handle bag that can hold a laptop like this Perry Triple-Compartment Tote Bag from Tori Burch will look really elegant at a conference or a client meeting. I just nabbed this one from Samsonite which has an elegant look and gold zippers to glam it up.
Avoid a backpack that your child would also wear at school. For more ideas, the New York Times has a great review and collection of tote bags
#7 DO Invest in a small purse you can wear crossbody for going to lunch or around the office
It can be annoying and awkward to take a huge tote bag with you when you are just stepping out to lunch or coffee, so get a smaller bag that you can fit a credit card, work ID and phone in so you can be hands free and undistracted when you roam around the office.
If you want to carry your badge on you, then consider how you are wearing it and if it is in the right (or wrong) place. If it is visible, for your safety and for the sake of fashion, take it off when you leave!
#8 DO get into Transition jackets
Jackets that also function as something you can wear over your outfit to the office, like an oversize boyfriend blazer, peacoat, or even a leather wrap or moto jacket. These also help the weird weather time of year where it could be in the 40s in the morning and in the 70s in the afternoon. You can wear a lighter blouse underneath and just take the jacket off in that case.
Unless you work for a tech firm, avoid the “hoodie”. And unless you are a 16 year old boy with acne, don’t use the “hat” of the hoodie feature ever:)
#9 DO wear super comfy shoes or bring a change of shoes
Noticing someone teetering in heels that are too high or shoes that don’t fit right is another cringeworthy moment you want to avoid. It’s a sad world we live in when I have to say this, but especially if you are in city life you need to be in a pair of shoes you can run away in.
That should not stop you from trotting out your Jimmies, but think about trading style for comfort if you know you are going to be traveling or on your feet all day walking and needing to go from one venue to another without having time to go back to a hotel room or otherwise. In this case, a very low, chunky heel, flat boot (except on a plane), or ballet flats would be fit for purpose.
If you do want to kick things up when you are at the office or client site, wear a pair of stylist walking shoes (note; I did NOT say sneakers) in transit. You can check out these Nike Air Rify Breather Shoes which can also function as great shoes to go to a yoga class in after.
Corporette has a great guide to comfortable heels and a great general wardrobe guide in general, which I have downloaded and included at the end of this article.
#10 DO upkeep and take care of your skin, nails and hair.
No amount of makeup or Dyson’s air wrapping will hide brittle, broken hair or dull skin. Exfoliate your skin with a microdermabrasion product twice a week, or a gentle daily exfoliating wash.
If you are traveling, consider exfoliating pads that are liquid-free, like these daily individually wrapped peel pads from Dr. Dennis Gross. A proper vitamin C serum to brighten your skin and protect against pollutants is also important.
You should always have a supply of hair oil from (like Moroccan Oil or Kerastase) to keep your ends looking healthy and treat your hair with a mask at least once a week. Even if you don’t have time to “do” hair and makeup, these basics should be mandatory.
Finally, make sure your nails are clean and if possible polished. Your hands are really noticeable both in person and on video (if you are like me, and gesture with your hands when you talk).
Most of this advice is not for other poeple, it’s to make you feel good about YOU. When you do, your work and your well-being will also benefit.
Let’s bring elegance back. Avoid the following dont’s:
#1 DON’T wear flip flops, sandals, or super casual footwear
Flip flops and Birkenstocks belong nowhere near the office. Especially with socks !! No further explanation needed. Unless you are at the beach or the pool, this is one big fat sack of no.
Peeptoe shoes and fancy sandals are more of a gray area, but as long as you balance it with a longer hemline, in most cases it is acceptable in the spring and summer. This one is definitely depending on the culture of your workplace and how you structure the rest of your outfit.
If you are in a very casual office environment, sneakers may be appropriate, but stick to a darker color and avoid Crocs at all costs.
Any part of your toe you are exposing should be polished in an office-appropriate nude color.
#2 Don’t take the casual dress code too literally
“Casual” still means “office casual” not “backyard barbecue” casual. Jeans may be ok and even part of the culture, but they still need to be well-fitted, clean, and free of holes and tears. Shirts should be tucked in.
Any kind of outfit that you would wear to the gym or on vacation is generally best left for those places. This includes items like leggings, jeggings, and maxi skirts or dresses. Athleisure may have been popularized during the pandemic but even on video calls, think of how you are projecting yourself professionally.
The same goes for business travel – if you are traveling on business, chances are you will run into someone either on the way or right at the destination, so don’t wear yoga pants on the plane.
#3 DON’T wear clothes that don’t fit
These should all have been out the door in your closet purge. This includes clothes that are too tight OR too baggy. Buttons pulling or creases at the hipline are a red flag that the clothes are too tight.
Baggy clothing can be just as unattractive. Men especially when wearing suits they haven’t worn in years can fall into this trap. It’s great that you new health kick during the pandemic made you go down two sizes, but BUY NEW CLOTHES.
#4 Don’t wear jangly jewelry or overaccessorize
Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, take one thing off.” You shouldn’t be heard before you are seen. Bangle bracelets or super flashy chandelier earrings are for date night, not the office (and not yoga class either, for that matter)
#5 DON’T wear overpowering perfume, cologne or aftershave
Women are not the only ones guilty of overpowering smells! At least once a day when I go out I feel like I inhale aftershave and cologne especially when I am in an elevator.
A good practice is to choose light, clean, scents, like D&G Light Blue, Gucci Bamboo, or Aqua di Gio. Avoid heavy, musky scents for the day like Black Opium. Be judicious about how much you spray and go generally for one pulse point, or just spray some in the air and do a walk through.
A good rule of thumb is if you can smell your own perfume or cologne, you probably overdid it.
#6 DON’T go to work with wet or unkempt hair
According to Capitol Hill Style, coming to the office with sopping wet hair is never ok, and I agree – it makes you look harried and like you have bad time management. In limited examples with curly hair or an updo, damp may be OK, but build in the extra time to dry your hair or wash the night before. If you are working from home, your hair is also working so don’t let bedhead undermine your professional presence. If you do not have time to shower, consider my list of dry shampoos.
Alternatively you could conisder a twisted updo or braid style but try to at least make sure your hair is over 50 percent dry by the time you leave the house.
Also, be sure to grab a hand mirror and look at the back of your head before you head out the door. You may have brushed and styled it perfectly in the front but there could be a gnarly knots and messy tufts in the back, and especially IRL, your look is 360 degrees.
#6 DON’T wear too much makeup or none at all
Putting makeup on for work shows that you care about your appearance and are detail oriented. It is a personal choice and should be respected no matter what, but consider the extra few minutes spent on some concealer or a light sweep of bronzer can make you feel more confident and put together.
Glamour magazine has a good article about dos and dont’s for office makeup, but generally you want a clean and fresh look. So avoid smoky eyes and a lot of liner, because throughout the day you may get in the zone and only realize you have raccoon eye after talking to your boss. Similarly, some lip color is ok, but save the uber shiny gloss for going out. It’s kind of hard to take someone seriously about debt ratios who literally sparkles.
If you do decide to go for an enhanced eye look, then keep the rest of the face relatively light and the lip color nude. Similarly, a bolder lip can look classy if you keep the eyes and cheeks neutral.
Using a bronzer can also make you look more awake and alive. It can also double as a contouring powder for cheekbones and the jawline. One tip about contouring is to make sure you don’t apply the powder too far below the bone – apply it directly on the bottom of the jawbone and cheekbone otherwise your features will be dragged down. This video has great tips on contouring dos and dont’s:
The key takeaway about makeup is to pick the signature part of your face, upper or lower, that you want to enhance and make that stand out – otherwise, it’s just going to look like a whole lot of heavy makeup.
Regardless of how pressed for time you are, you at least should even out your skin tone with a good BB or CC tinted moisturizer that protects your skin from sun damage – some good ones are from Glo, IT Cosmetics or Laura Mercier. The more effort you put into your appearanc,e the better you will feel, the more productive you will be!
#7 DON’T be caught not wearing a watch or wearing the wrong watch
Remember, you wnat to project the image that you are on top of things, including time.
It sounds old school, but being asked for the time and flipping your wrist is a lot classier than taking out your phone. Also smart watches are definitely the norm but keep the band classy with neutral colors and some nice surrounding jewelery to class it up.
#8 DON’T Wear clothing or accessories with a visible logo
If you work for a professional services firm, you could risk offending a competitor client, and it generally screams cheap to have super visible logos. It generally won’t benefit you to broadcast to your office exactly how much money you are spending on your wardrobe (and you may be giving the impression that you are being paid too much!).
Keep labels on the inside!
#9 DON’T be caught with visible undergarments
I was debating whether to bring this up, but sometimes this is a complete avoidable accident.”VPL” can happen to anyone. If you get dressed while it’s still dark outside, you may not notice until later that you have a problem. And the worst is, no one will usually tell you!
Boxers, bra straps and undershirts can creep out if you aren’t careful and do a good look in the mirror beforehand. What is also critical is looking at your outfit in natural light, or if it is still dark, the brightest indoor light possible. Hence another reason to have a hand mirror to look at yourself from the back.
#10 DON’T Wear anything super trendy
Camilla Cabello may be rocking the Puffy Shirt on her Voice debut, but you want to be remembered for your competence, not uber bold fashion statements. Steer clear of passing trends like animal prints, leather pants, or neon green anything (even if it is the trending color of 2022).
- 10 office fashion don’ts (Forbes)
- Work it: Top Workplace Dont’s (Visual Therapy)
- 10 Ways Men Are Dressing Bad At the Office (Llegance)
- 40 Horrendous Style Mistakes Men Can’t Stop Making (Best Life Online)
- Corporette Wardrobe Checklist