Image consultants and stylists are asked all kinds of fashion questions in the never-ending quest to feel confident about the way we look. Without a doubt, knowing you are “doing it right” and looking good increases your confidence. Here are the five most frequently-asked questions.
(1) Should my socks match my shoes or my trousers?
The established “rule” is that they should match your shoes. This comes about because most men wear black dress shoes with their dark suits, so they wear black socks with their navy blue, black and grey suits. However, the question arises with brown suits. Let’s assume you are wearing tan trousers and brown shoes. If your look is more professional, wear brown socks to match your shoes. However, if you’re wearing khakis and a polo, you might be wearing Dockers, so you can opt to wear socks that simply blend in between the shoe and trouser color.
(2) It is okay to wear open-toe shoes to the office?
It depends upon where you live and your profession, plus the established formality of your office. If you are in a sector where formality is the norm, the answer is a firm No. This includes law firms and those involved in financial services, such as banks and mortgage lenders.
(3) What is the rule for wearing stockings/hose to the office?
As with the above question, it depends upon the city in which you live, your profession, as well as the established formality of your office. However, throughout the country, more and more women are going bare-legged to the office these days. My rule of thumb is this: if your legs look like you are wearing stockings, then go bare legged. However, if your “imperfections” are prominent – bulging veins, discolorations, broken capillaries at high arches, spider veins, etc. – then you would be wise to wear very sheer stockings to prevent them from being a distraction.
(4) Can you describe Business Casual attire for men?
The term “business casual” is actually contradictory, because you’re either dressed for business or for casual activities. Offices that permit casual attire actually risk hurting their credibility, because their employees send the message “my comfort is more important than impressing you.” A “dressed down” look for the office would be dark trousers, a crisp French blue shirt (white is formal, so it is meant to be worn with a suit) and a great tie. You needn’t wear a jacket, and you can loosen your collar until the moment you meet with a client. In studies over 20 years, large corporate audiences have voted (when shown a slide with two photos of the same man) that the man in the shirt and tie looks more credible and dynamic than the one in the navy blazer, dress shirt and no tie. You’ll dramatically lower your credibility with khakis and polo shirt.
(5) Can you describe Business Casual attire for women?
It can’t be said enough that “business casual” attire is an oxymoron, because “business” and “casual” imply two entirely different activities and states of mind. Furthermore, university studies have proven that employees who dress casually are less productive and less ethical, so dressing down can hurt your career. A proper “dressed down” look for the office would be a pantsuit that looks less formal, comfortable low heels or flats, and smaller earrings and other accessories. An alternative is low heels worn with a skirt and blouse; but give it a professional look by adding accessories like a leather belt and chunky hoops or other great earrings. Club attire or anything that looks suggestive must be avoided, as gender bias experts say it will destroy any chances of getting ahead, because you’ll be labeled a bimbo.