When it comes to dressing for the office, you obviously need to change up your wardrobe a little bit — and if you can't afford to fill a second closet with just workwear (LOL), that might involve some easy outfit hacks. Whether you work in a more casual environment or somewhere very professional, you can't go to your job or internship wearing the same thing you would wear to the mall on a Saturday (unless you are just a very well put-together person. Then, congrats!).
Whether you're first starting out or you've been doing this a while, it can sometimes be confusing to figure out what's office-appropriate and what's not. We've all been there! I personally work in an office with a very business-casual approach to dressing. It's great, but it's also kind of confusing sometimes. You'll have people there in suits and ties, and at the same time, someone will walk by in jeans and flats. It's almost easier to be in a place that has a super strict dress code, because at least then there are rules!
I've been working full-time for a few years now, so I feel like I've picked up some helpful tips and tricks on dressing for the office along the way. I've learned that even if you work someone really casual, you should still try to look professional. I've seen people in my office in denim shorts, and it just doesn't seem right. In an effort to keep yourself from blurring the lines, here are nine easy little outfit tweaks you can do to look more professional — no wardrobe overhaul required!
1. Wear jeans with heels instead of flats.
Unless you work in a very professional office, you're probably allowed to wear nice jeans to work. Even if they fit well and it's appropriate to wear them, pairing them with small heels makes them instantly look more professional. Flats are fine, but they definitely give off more of a casual, weekend vibe. You don't need anything crazy — these Target heels have a very small heel — but they automatically give your outfit a little bit more of a working-girl vibe.
2. If you're going to wear flats, make them pointy toe flats instead of loafer-style.
It's totally acceptable to wear flats in the majority of offices. If you're going to do that, I would recommend going for pointy-toe flats instead of a loafer or smoking shoe style like the shoes on the left. The option on the left looks much more casual, even when paired with a blazer. The pointy-toe just looks a little bit more dressed up.
3. Front tuck a long shirt instead of leaving it down.
This small tweak can make all the difference in your outfit. See how baggy and loose my button down shirt looks in the picture on the left? It gives off a much more casual vibe. A simple front tuck makes my whole outfit look instantly more put-together and professional. You can tuck it in all around if you want (and if the shirt is very long, you should), and even add a slim belt.
4. Opt for fitted clothes rather than baggy clothes.
Baggy, loose clothes are comfortable and can look chic when styled correctly, so I totally get the appeal. But they also tend to look a lot more casual. Going for something that fits you correctly will make such a difference in making you look more professional. It's kind of hard to tell here, but my black blazer is smaller and fits me better all around. Also, tucking in a plain tee makes a big difference as opposed to leaving it out.
5. Make sure your pants are hemmed and fit correctly.
It sounds obvious, but I know how hard it can be to remember to fix the length of your pants. It may be hard to see in this image, but on the left, my pants are long and bunched up — that's not really professional. On the right, the pants fit much better and look much better. And this doesn't just go for pants; make sure all of your clothes are fitted and tailored.
6. Carry a structured handbag or tote rather than a small, trendy option.
A small, trendy handbag is cute for when you're hanging out with friends or on the weekend, but it's not that optimal for an office environment. A larger, structured tote or handbag looks more put-together and professional. It will also carry more stuff for you, obviously. I prefer to go for leather for the office, but it's not necessary.
7. Wear solid colors instead of busy patterns.
It's not that you can't wear patterns to work, it's just that in many cases, solid colors look more professional. If you're in a casual office, this tip probably doesn't really apply. But if you're in a more professional office or you just have a big meeting you want to look impressive for, it does. These dresses are basically exactly the same, and the black one on the right looks much more office-appropriate, even with the same accessories.
8. Wear a fitted blazer instead of a loose cardigan.
I know cardigans are comfy and cute, and I'm not saying you can never wear them. But in general, a fitted blazer tends to make you look instantly more professional, like a working woman. Blazers also dress up everything else, like jeans or flats or just a plain tee.
9. Choose simple jewelry over a trendier, cheaper option.
When it comes to jewelry, less is more for the office. Choose pieces that are simple and classic over trendy items that scream "look at me!" This feather necklace looks better for Coachella than it does for working at my desk all day. Statement necklaces are fine when paired with a simple top, but in general, go for a more subdued look.
Images: Jessica Booth