Even if you work in an office so casual (or creative) that there isn’t an actual dress code, these eight items will get you noticed—and not in a good way.

By Rebecca Daly
Updated April 25, 2016
Pink Flip Flops
Credit: Subjug/Getty Images


Especially in artsy industries, a lot of fancy footwear flies—from sky-high heels to borrowed-from-the-boys brogues—but flip-flops look overly-casual and sloppy no matter where you work. Even if you’re not into heels, ditch the thongs and opt for chic ballet flats instead.

Chipped Nail Polish

A tiny flaw in a manicure is almost inevitable (and not actually that noticeable). But if you’re the type to paint your nails and let the polish flake away until there’s not a trace left, the message you’re sending is that you don’t care about your appearance. Consider a neutral shade that won’t show chips as obviously, or try going clean and natural.

Short Shorts

Distressed cut-offs are (hopefully) an obvious no-no for work, but be mindful of the inseam on dressier silk or embellished pairs, too. While a shorts-and-blazer combo can look polished and pulled together, it’s better suited for after-hours rather than office hours.

Aggressive Perfume

Just because you love your new perfume doesn’t mean your coworkers do. To ensure your cube-mates don’t resent your scent, go fragrance-free or opt for an ultra-light misting on work mornings.

Anything Cleavage-Baring

Ultra low-cut tops and dresses are strictly for after five. You want your colleagues and your boss to focus on how well you’re doing your job, not your other, ah, assets.

Wet Hair

Nothing says, “I woke up late,” (or worse: “I have poor time-management skills.”) quite like showing up with wet hair. Need a little motivation? Try one of these super easy styles.

Sheer Fabrics

Yes, sheer styles are (still) all over the runways, but the office isn’t a good place to test drive this trend. A sheer sleeve—on an otherwise opaque blouse, of course—is acceptable, but leave any other sartorial exploration to your off-duty hours.

The Just-Finished-a-Workout Look

Unless you actually squeeze your cardio in by running to and from work, leave the sneakers—and the backpack—at home. A cute pair of flats works just as well, and won’t result in an embarrassing “commuter outfit.”