‘Geek Chic’ Glasses and the Office

2013 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - ArrivalsCan you wear hipster/geek chic eyeglasses to the office — especially if you’re young?

I’m hoping for your input on a quandary I’m having. I’m starting my first real job this summer so trying to build an adult wardrobe now. I am nearsighted and strongly prefer glasses to contacts for everyday wear. I love my (only) current pair; they’re big and plastic and perfect for me. But can I pull off “geek chic” in a professional (though not very conservative) environment, especially as a 21 year-old intern?

As a fellow glasses wearer, I’m curious to hear what the readers say here.  I think that ‘geek chic’ glasses can be great — I’ve even recommended them to a reader who was wondering how to to make her look edgier.  However, there is a sliding scale with these things.  The wackier the glasses are, the more that people will remember (and form opinions about you) based on your glasses, at least at first.  In other words: if a particular boss thinks you look like a bit odd/hipster/weird/[insert negative word here], you are probably not going to get a lot of work with that person.  You may say, “fine, I wouldn’t want to work with someone that stodgy anyway!,” and an outward statement about your personality can be a great way to whittle down who you work with.  (Glasses are in a different ballpark than heavily tattooed arms, but you may want to check out that discussion as well.)    That said… you don’t want to be so limited that only a few people in the office want to work with you — so if your office is filled with more “stodgy” types than not, you need to exercise caution.  (And just in terms of style, I personally prefer not to have a certain pair of glasses be my trademark, but that’s just my $.02.)  (Pictured above: I was sort of surprised to see Jenna Lyons wear what I would classify as geek-chic eyeglasses to an Oscars party, but if they become your trademark look then I suppose it’s weirder not to wear them.)

So here would be my approach:  wear multiple pairs of glasses.  [Read more…]

Business Casual — Without Being Overdressed

someecards.com - Are sleeping bags business casual? How do younger women do “business casual” in a male-dominated environment — without ending up looking like the mom (or younger sister) of the group?  Reader S asks:

I have a question about work attire: is it possible to be “over-dressed” for work? Without getting in to too much detail, I work for a medium sized engineering firm as an engineer. I am the only female engineer in my group so it’s really hard for me to gauge what would be deemed appropriate work attire for my office. Most of the men dress business casual (as in jeans, or khakis at best, and a polo shirt- even on client meeting days) during the weekdays, with casual Fridays being jeans and a t-shirt. I usually wear dress pants, and an appropriate top; Fridays I wear jeans and an appropriate top. Am I overdressed? The only other person who wears dress pants is the group manager. I should mention I’m only 3 years in to my career.

I can totally see this being a problem. The guys are wearing jeans and polos and look like regular workers — meanwhile, if you wear jeans and a t-shirt you end up looking like their scrappy younger sister, and if you wear trousers and a nice top you look like the mom of the group.  We’ve covered whether you can dress “too nice” for work, and also how to transition to business casual from a more conservative environment, but I don’t think we’ve really talked about this exact question.

For my two cents, here are a few tips — I’m really curious to hear what the readers have to say on this one, though. [Read more…]

What “Business Casual” Means for Students Who Are Networking

Shirred Side Cowlneck SweaterA lot of companies and networking groups have parties for students over the holidays — I can remember attending more than a few in my younger years.  The perennial question, as Reader N wonders:  what do you wear when it says “business casual attire”? Perhaps more importantly, what things shouldn’t you wear for winter networking events?

I’m a college student who is interested in finance, and go to a lot of information sessions for banks. The dress code is usually business casual or business attire. Other than just wearing a suit, what can be appropriate in these situations? A dress like this Metallic T-Shaped Tunic Sweater from Express (picture) or this Merona Sleeveless Empire Dress (picture) with tights and a jacket? Black slacks and a nice sweater?

This is a great question, and I want to start by saying, again, that when you’re networking — at least for a conservative job — the goal is is for your clothes to be muted enough that people remember your brains (or your words or your resume), NOT your outfit.  A few basic rules, just responding to your question: [Read more…]

Poll: Ankle-Length Pants and the Office

So here’s the tricky thing about office style:  it changes from time to time.  We’ve talked before on this blog about how I’m a big fan of bootcut trousers because I think they’re the most flattering look — and how I think “shorter” pants (capris, floodies, pedal pushers, whatever you want to call them) are unacceptable for the office.  (Ain’t No Mom Jeans — totally unrelated to office style! — had a highly amusing post on them recently.)  But.  But!  There are a ton of gorgeous ankle-length pants out there right now, and I’m seeing them more and more often with suits — from both conservative brands and not so conservative brands.  Take, for example, this gorgeous Elizabeth and James suit (which was very nearly yesterday’s Suit of the Week).  One of my guest posters last year even said she thought the J.Crew Minnie was a wardrobe staple! (Is it just me or is J.Crew showing the Minnie pant ridiculously tight on the models this year?)  So ladies, I thought it was time for a poll:  do you think ankle-length pants are acceptable for a conservative office, where (on any given day) 50% or more of the people may be in a full-on suit?  Do you think they’re great for a more casual (pants and blouse) look, but hate them with suits?  Do tell.

[Read more…]

Maxi Dresses and the Office

maxi for work.indexedCan you wear maxi dresses at the office? I’m hoping Reader J is joking:

Are maxie dresses appropiate at the office in the Summer? I’ve seen two ladies, one younger in her 20’s perhaps, the other older, 40’s maybe, wearing maxie dresses in the summer. The younger girl wore one once that was bright orange and strapless like the one in the link with nothing over it. The other lady has worn halter top and spaghetti strap maxie dress and will ususally wear a sweater or wrap with it. Either way, is a maxie dress ever okay for the office in the summer? Thanks.

You’re pranking me, right? My only thought is: NONONONONONONONONONONONONONO. No. N. O. I mean, look at the model — do you think “oh, how competent,” or “I think I’d like her on my team”?  Not really, right?  And bear in mind this is a static image; in real life she’d probably be itchy from the smocking and obsessively yanking that neckline up.  (For the record, I’m also against halter tops or spaghetti straps of any kind in the office.)

Let me take a deep breath and step away from the strapless, smocked monstrosity above, and say that I actually have thought about talking about “how to wear maxi dresses” to the office on here a few times because, many moons ago, I saw a column in Lucky Magazine where Jean Godfrey-June styled a brown maxi skirt with a white shrunken blazer and I actually thought, oh, how cute, that might be appropriate for the office. Sort of similar to the below: [Read more…]

The Hunt: Work-Appropriate T-Shirts

best t-shirts for work 4.indexedSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Ever since I found The Limited’s highly-rated t-shirt, I’ve been thinking about that perennial summer question: which are the best t-shirts for layering under suits and otherwise wearing to work? In my mind, the perfect work t-shirt:

  • is opaque
  • is thick enough to not see the outline of your bra
  • keeps its shape throughout the day (and after several washes)
  • retains color evenly after numerous washes
  • looks like a perfect basic — not too memorable or trendy

I’ve rounded up some of my favorites below — but readers, which are your favorites?  (Psssst: check out The Corporette Guide to the Best Tops Under Suits if you haven’t already!)

[Read more…]