What You Can (and Can't) Wear to Work
At a corporate office: It depends. “Don’t go without hosiery until you see someone senior doing it,” recommends Kat Griffin, the New York City–based founder of Corporette.com, a fashion and lifestyle blog for lawyers, bankers, M.B.A.’s, and consultants.
At a business-casual office: Sure, but opt for shoes with more coverage instead of sandals. “In our workplace, hosiery is encouraged, but we do make exceptions for the summer,” says Lauren Mathisen, a recruiter for Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm headquartered in Chicago.
At a creative office: Absolutely—nude hose can actually make you look stodgy. (No offense, Duchess.) Still, don’t go there with a miniskirt.
RS readers who said yes: 75%*
*According to a Facebook poll of 2,560 Real Simple readers.
See what the experts say your work clothes reveal about you in How to Dress for Success.
At a corporate office: Doubtful. Slingbacks can be OK. “I’ve known judges who have worn peep-toes, and red ones at that,” says Griffin.
At a business-casual office: Yes, but the more covered up, the better. Also, avoid backless footwear that makes flapping noises when you walk.
At a creative office: Go ahead—straps and all. But keep the flip-flops (especially if they’re rubber) on the beach.
RS readers who said yes: 69%
At a corporate office: Not a chance.
At a business-casual office: If and when denim is allowed (most likely on Fridays), polished, dark trouser jeans are the way to go.
At a creative office: Skip the weird washes, but colored denim gets a thumbs-up. Always dress jeans up with a nice top or blazer.
RS readers who said yes: 65%
At a corporate office: A pair made of suiting fabric that hits near the ankles may be doable on laid-back days.
At a business-casual office: Go for it, but follow the same criteria as a corporate office setting.
At a creative office: Yup. Just stay away from weekend cargo pants and dumpy wide-leg styles.
RS readers who said yes: 53%
At a corporate office: No.
At a business-casual office: Still no.
At a creative office: Proceed with caution. Only wear them dressed up and as a layering piece (that is, with a long jacket or a tunic that covers your derriere).
RS readers who said yes: 26%
At a corporate office: Never.
At a business-casual office: Probably not (even on a summer Friday).
At a creative office: Rock on, but stick to a tailored knee-length pair with a silky top and a jacket. Anything shorter should be paired with tights.
RS readers who said yes: 12%
Strappy Tops and Dresses
At a corporate office: Sleeveless dresses and those with thick straps might be fine—just keep a cardigan or a jacket handy for meetings.
At a business-casual office: See the advice for the corporate office. Flutter or cap sleeves are OK, too, says Michelle T. Sterling, founder of Global Image Group, an image-consulting business headquartered in New York City.
At a creative office: “Never wear straps so thin that you need a strapless bra,” advises Jennifer Baumgartner, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist, author of You Are What You Wear ($16, amazon.com), and the owner of InsideOut, a wardrobe-consulting business based in Washington, D.C.
RS readers who said yes: 12%