<em>This week, we start our</em> <strong>7 Deadly Sins series</strong>, <em>where we cover top mistakes, blunders and snafus of the office, from fashion to communication to management. Follow our series to ensure you don't make the same mistakes, and find ways to correct yourself if you have.</em>
Office ethics and fashion choices can be tricky topics on their own. Put them together and it can easily create a major problem. Dressing for the office doesn’t have to be all work and no play. The key is finding that balance, and making sure that you’re sending the right message. “Overall, one should really be concerned with how they present themselves and how they represent the brand, meaning whoever you work for,” says Shawn Outler, a Macy’s vice president.
<strong>BlackEnterprise.com</strong> spoke further with Outler to get insight on the top office attire vices and how not to commit professional style offenses. <em>—Dominique Hobdy</em>
<strong>LUST: Thou shall not wear overtly sexy attire.</strong> There is nothing worse than wearing an outfit to work that could easily be mistaken for Saturday night clubbing attire. “There’s a way to do looks that you can recreate that are appropriate and don't detract from your work and your messaging,” Outler says. So, if you’ve worn it out to a party, or have been planning to, keep it for that occasion and refrain from making your coworkers and more importantly, your boss, uncomfortable.
<strong>GLUTTONY: Thou shall not embrace sloppiness by wearing ill-fitting clothing. </strong>Closely related to the first deadly sin, make sure that your clothing fits properly. Outler advises against showing midriff areas, chest or simply too much skin or wearing clothes that fall off, or are too baggy. Making a trip to a tailor or going one size up will oftentimes do the trick for a polished, comfortable look.
<strong>GREED: Thou shall not overindulge in the accessories department. </strong>The workplace is not the setting for anything that is distracting and that takes the attention off of the task at hand. Too much jingle will do just that. “It takes the focus away from what your communicating with your mouth vs. the noise that you're making on your body,” says Outler. Keep accessories at a minimum and keep it classy.
<strong>SLOTH: Thou shall not be lazy with maintaining your clothing and overall look. </strong>It can be expensive to keep up with fashion trends, and in this economy it may be the last thing on your mind. But whether we like it or not, the clothes that we wear speak for us before we say anything. You want your work attire to scream, “Professional, Clean, and Well Put-Together,” not "Wrinkled, Unorganized, and Trashy." Be cognizant of how you look, whatever your sense of style is, and keep in mind that discount and department stores including Target, H&M, and Macy's offer plenty of inexpensive options to freshen up a work wardrobe. Planning ahead might be a great idea too because you won't get caught rushing or without your power look if you laundry, dry clean and plan outfits ahead of time.
<strong>WRATH: Thou shall not overcompensate or rebel with overly expressive attire. </strong>Self-expression is an essential and important part of life. Even in the workplace, it can be great to express yourself and your fashion sense— to a certain extent. Outler warns against wearing items like 7-inch platform heels, sequin dresses and your favorite wide-brimmed flower embellished hat in offices where the workplace culture doesn't welcome it. “You might want to dress like Beyoncé, but she's not [typically] going to an office.” When thinking of what fashion icons to channel for the office, go with less of Lady Gaga (unless that's your purpose or career aspiration) and more of First Lady Michelle Obama.
<strong>ENVY: Thou shall not let your scent overshadow your presence. </strong>Good hygiene, especially in the workplace, is essential, and having a signature scent is a nice touch. But, being recognizable by an overwhelming perfume or cologne before and after you enter a room is not so good. Two sprays and a wrist dabble should be enough, Outler says. Try not to overdo it.
<strong>PRIDE: Thou shall not wear excessive labels and logos.</strong> Buying designer bags, shoes, or clothing is always a good feeling, especially when you’ve worked hard to be able to do so. Oftentimes, designer items are quality pieces that can remain part of wardrobe staples for years. However, broadcasting to the office that you’ve finally made it by sporting a Gucci-monogram purse, belt, hat, umbrella <em>and </em>key chain may be a bit much. Stacking on loads of logos and labels can not only be tacky, but is often not in line with to many office dress codes. Outler suggests professionals take it one day at a time, spreading designer pieces out throughout the week or month. Keep it simple.