While the financial services industry is relatively conservative, that doesn’t mean you always need a three-piece suit. In fact, with some careful thought, you can dress casually at the office and still look professional.
A common problem with dressing casually, says Anne Sowden, an image specialist with Here’s Looking at You in Toronto, is that many people go too far, believing they can wear their weekend clothes at the office. That, however, could not be further from the truth.
These tips will help you dress professionally even in a casual office setting:
> For men: dress shirts and pants
You can leave the suit at home, and ties are not necessary in a casual setting. But jeans and a T-shirt are still out.
Wear a long-sleeved, collared shirt, Sowden says, and dress pants. Khaki pants should be worn only on really “casual” Fridays.
> Women: watch those hemlines
While women have more options than men when it comes to office wear, it’s important to pay attention to details to maintain a professional look.
In addition to dresses, Sowden says, women can wear skirts and dress pants that can be paired with different sweaters or cotton shirts.
The important point for women is not to go too casual, she says, and not to wear skirts that are too short. For a professional look, skirts should be about knee length.
> Keep a jacket handy
You can spruce up your look at a moment’s notice if you have a spare jacket on hand at the office.
“If you ever get called into a meeting or a client drops in unexpectedly,” Sowden says, “you can throw a jacket on and it will always look professional.”
For men, a navy blazer goes with practically anything, she says. Women should stick to a simple black jacket.
> Stay professional from head to foot
Save the flip-flops for the beach; wear shoes with some structure at the office.
Men should avoid sandals at the office, says Sowden. Women can wear sandals as long as they are professional looking and are neither flip-flops nor backless.
If you do decide to wear sandals, Sowden recommends, get a pedicure first.
> ‘Tis golf season
It’s acceptable to wear golf clothes to the office, Sowden says, if you are dropping by on your way to or from the golf course. Again, you’ll have that jacket handy in case a client arrives unexpectedly.