Office Dress Code – Is this Good Advice?

by AustinMom

I have worked in my industry and in my city for all of my professional life. I can say that over the past 30 years office wear has become more casual for both men and women. While some meetings and events still require formal business attire, mostly it is business casual. I came across this infographic. Of course it includes click bait – “style tricks that could earn you a promotion” – that pertains only to women.

I would agree with some of this, but maybe it is due to our warmer climate, but short sleeves (that come half-way between your shoulder and elbow) are not an issue in the work place. However, cap sleeves, sleeveless or spaghetti straps are offlimits unless they are under a jacket for women. I am surprised at how many younger women (35 and younger) try to pull off leggings in the workplace. It struck me last week when I went into the office, the number of leggings and tunic sweaters I saw.

How do people dress in your workplace?

This Infographic Is Your Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Work


197 thoughts on “Office Dress Code – Is this Good Advice?

  1. It says no sports trainers or sneakers for smart casual guys but the guy in the graphic looks to be wearing Vans…

  2. Our immediate group (managers, 4 professionals, secretary). Manager + 2 men wear dress shoes/slacks/shirt/tie; women slacks + jacket with usually some sweater-type blouse; rarely just a shell underneath; secretary a wider variety and somewhat less professional, tighter fitting clothes, a little edgier, slacks or shirts with appropriate tops.

    Others in our suite vary from formal business attire daily to jeans/yoga pants with a big sweater (younger women). One guy, an IT/programming type typically wears jeans, but none of the other guys.

  3. Oy, those styles make even the infographic skinny woman look like she has thunder thighs. I would hate to see those clothes on a real woman. I especially hate pant suits with too-short jackets, as shown there, because they make real women look huge.

  4. And their definition of business casual looks like full on business to me. Business casual to me means polos and khakis on men, not dress shirts.

  5. My office is more casual than the “Smart Casual” infographic. Norms vary by department – in Dev/Production, it can be super, super casual – graphic t shirts, cargo shorts, straight up athletic sneakers and/or flip flops. Creative groups are very hipster-looking. Account dresses up for clients, goes more along the “smart casual” lines when not with clients, but funky jewelry/trendy sneakers/colored jeans are fine. Backoffice goes anywhere from funky business casual to jeans/casual shirts. I tend to wear a lot of sweaters/jeans/mid-heels in the winter and casual dresses with wedge sandals in the summer. Sometimes I wear trendy sneakers if my feet hurt & I don’t feel like wearing heels. I don’t wear ballet flats that often because I don’t think that they are all that comfortable or flattering.

  6. The other tenant in our building is a conservative Big Law firm. It is not hard to tell which elevator bank people are going to head for in the lobby.

  7. We are mostly business casual or smart casual. There are a few groups that lean business professional. I am the only female in a group of guys, so I am a bit more conscious of what I wear.
    Here dressing tends to get much laxer in the summer. Even though people thrown on cardigans or cover ups over dresses necklines plunge and hems rise.

  8. I’m curious if all the different combos of ages, careers and regions on here will yield any consensus.

    I follow a work fashion blog and am frequently surprised at how short the dresses/skirts are. Many of the regulars there are lawyers, so it’s a pretty conservative bunch.

    My theory on tunics + leggings they alleviate the dreary winter cocoon in colder climates, which isn’t a thing in Tampa or Austin.
    Here in Tampa, I have a friend who delights in pulling out her boots for the (very short) winter. She barely gets a chance to wear them. But in colder climates, the season is longer. I got sick of looking like a blob for months on end. Tunics long enough to cover your bottom + leggings alleviate that feeling of being buried all winter, and the shock of seeing your body again when it warms up outside. When I moved to Berlin I was surprised that the shapes of the women’s bodies were visible in winter. My Midwestern approach to winter attire had always been heavy pants + sweater, resulting in a roly-poly bundle. I eventually learned to stay warm without becoming a depressing wad of wool. One trick was to layer two pairs of tights. An office mate told me the price was less troubling if you think of them as pants, and your dress as a top. I wore shorter skirts that way than with bare legs in the summer. That is halfway to the leggings + tunic formula. When I first saw tunics with pants, I called them “dresses”, until someone corrected me. So I’m fine with leggings + long tunics.

    What I see here (albeit not in businesses) are running tights/yoga pants/leggings as pants, with nothing covering them on the butt. Not my favorite look, but my son says it’s common at school, and he’s not complaining.

  9. I wear long underwear under my dress pants to conferences (even in the summer). Those hotels are cold!

  10. Oy, there are other issues with the infographic too – like in the men’s business section, the pants are too short even though the comment says “your trouser break should cover your socks by a couple inches”.

    There is no issue with non-collared shirts for women with a suit. AND there is no issue with wearing flats with your suit rather than heels.

    The business casual section also seems too dressy – I would call that “business informal” rather than business casual. I see a lot of polo shirts and cardigans in the business casual offices here.

    Also, I have no idea where they came up with “avoiding patterns and prints is best”. Not unless you are going to be on TV!

  11. Oh, so at work I normally wear a suit (mostly pants suits) if I am meeting clients, OR I wear pants or a dress with a non-matching blazer. Rarely heels – only for networking events and then I wear my other shoes to the event and change into heels there. In winter I wear my Heattech leggings instead of tights and my warm boots, plus a few layers on top. I always wear a blazer – it is freezing in my office and blazers carry more authority than cardigans.

  12. I am always shocked at the elementary school girls who wear tight leggings and short tight tops. It looks to my eye like they are wearing tights and forgot to put on their skirt. I wouldn’t let my daughter out of the house like that but she wouldn’t dress like that anyhow, and I know many moms who are shocked that I let her dye a blue streak in her hair.

    I also have a problem with teen boys who wear shiny, slimy, baggy athletic gear to school, because it looks like they are going to dribble balls rather than sit in a classroom – but I realize I am totally, utterly in the minority on that one. It just looks so undone to me, just like the tight leggings and exposed rears on the girls.

  13. Rhett and others who frequently travel/work in different offices: what do you do about dress codes? I can’t picture packing extra clothes for one stop in a five-day/ three or four destination trip just because you’re going to Garvey’s office and don’t want to stick out.

    How much do people here pay attention to what you & others wear? I remember a conversation in my PhD program when women were discussing what they wore & “power” clothes (it was the era of the red Power Tie). I sheepishly said that I wasn’t sure what they meant, had no clue about fashion or power clothes. One of them shot me down pretty forcefully, pointing at whatever I had on (probably scruffy jeans, but maybe 1 of 2 cotton skirts) and said it was the “true” power thing to wear, that it exuded confidence. Actually, it was the result of believing I had no fashion sense, as my mom & sister had always told me what to put on. Quite the misread, and humorous in hindsight.

  14. “just like the tight leggings and exposed rears on the girls.”

    which I imagine you see a lot of where you work, too. I know I’ve see a lot of that look when on the many college visits I’ve been on over the past ~5 years.

  15. Mooshi, glad you’re back! Hope things are normalizing /feeling better for you all.
    I have no problem with boys wearing gym clothes to school–they’re there to learn, not walk catwalks–but my son absolutely will not do that, even when gym is second period and he could change after it. Whatevs. I’m just glad he doesn’t want to say his pants/shorts.

    L, I noticed that disjuncture between word and text too. Ankle vs crops could be a legit question for women. I took the comment re heels to mean “don’t go to high” as opposed to a min height.

    Kerri, high five! I thought I was the only one who didn’t like collars.

  16. Oh yes, of course I see a lot on campus. But those are college girls and they are clearly flaunting it. On an 8 year old girl though, it just bothers me. It looks like an item of clothing was forgotten

  17. Saac – I find most collared, long sleeve shirts have sleeves that are way too tight for my body type. I have solid arms and legs.

  18. My young elementary girls wear leggings and tshirts all the time. Not because they are body conscious or showing off their legs or rears to anyone. It’s what they choose. Am I supposed to make them wear skirts or dresses over the legging? Or pants that are more difficult to play in?

  19. Yeah, I know they are there to learn, not be fashion plates. And I have no problem with jeans or comfy pants. I am totally against school uniforms. But a boy in slimy shinywear doesn’t look like he is there to learn – he looks like he is there to run laps. And sometimes I have the sneaky suspicion that the kid did run laps in the gymware, and might not smell so nice. But again, I know the look is really popular, and I would never be for a ban on the clothes.

  20. Rhett and others who frequently travel/work in different offices: what do you do about dress codes?

    It’s all the same department in the same industry so it doesn’t vary that much by location. This works just about anywhere:

    I tend to err on being more casual as being too dressy, when you’re a consultant, rubs a lot of people the wrong way.

  21. Sorry Ada, it is just me. And I am not talking about the comfy yoga pants, which look more like pants – I am talking about the thin leggings that look more like tights than pants. I am all for comfort too. My kid usually wears the more pantlike yoga pants or loose baggy jeans. She would never be uncomfortable.

  22. Ada, I’m with you. It’s what the clothes feel like from the inside, not how they look to anyone else. Kids need to run & wiggle.

  23. I totally agree kids need to run and wiggle, which is a big reason why I don’t like school uniforms. I just think a top long enough to cover the visible pantyline is warranted in some of these cases. Again, I am sure many of the moms don’t like my daughter’s blue hair streak either.

  24. Rhett, that looks like my teaching attire, lol.

    I’ve never understood how people see jeans as comfortable. Too close-fitting and a twist could cut off your circulation. Loose means extra fabric to catch on things. In the phases when I’ve worn them, I’ve had literally one or two pairs that fit me well to begin with, and gradually molded more & more to my shape. The opposite of “dressy” or “nice” jeans.

  25. I had a manager who was short. She tended to wear short skirts and more than once I found myself thinking “too short in length”. She had a fantastic personality, we got along great but I do think that at a certain point in her career she will have to consider her wardrobe. On the flip side I think that she has and perhaps that is the only style that suits her.

  26. Saac – Gonna disagree with you there. Jeans are much more comfortable than dress pants (and skirts and dresses), IMO. Maybe because they’re lower waisted? Or the accompanying shoes are more comfy?

  27. Ha! I am 35 and w at the legging and tunic or sweater dress combo with boots all winter. I also wear leggings with my shorter dresses and flats to keep the dresses professional. If I don’t the dresses are too short.

    My office promotes all 3 types but smart casual is the one we wear most often. And we wear patterns. Need some fun in life. We only get up to business professional when we have to present or meet important people.

  28. Mooshi – there is a difference between the Hanna cut of leggings and some other brands. Some of the other brands tend to be figure hugging.

  29. For myself, I like jeans and loose cotton pants. I own a lot of ankle pants which I wear with longish tops and ballet flats or booties when I teach. I find these items very comfy.

  30. Louise, that is my point. When I say leggings, some people might be picturing the Hanna type, which to my eye just look like comfy pants. That isn’t the style I am talking about.

  31. Mooshi, is it the pattern or something about the cut?

    Kerri, we disagree. I like dresses–they have no waist, high or low

  32. Huh, I think I am missing somethng. I posted a photo above of the style of legging that I think needs a longer top. It is the photo of the bright red leggings. They look like tights. The pictures that others are posting don’t bug me because they are more pants than the leggings that look like tights. It has nothing to do with patterns or colors.

  33. “a lot of wooden toys” hahaha! They also signal that you have excess disposable income or are good at finding sales. I guess $$$$ isn’t an issue in Mooshi’s neighborhood.

  34. My girls wear leggings, mostly with dresses, but sometimes with shorter tops (they think that’s super comfortable). My oldest (9) actually told me she’d rather wear leggings and tops than dresses because the other girls don’t wear a lot of dresses. A lot of the other girls seem to wear athletic wear to school which I’m glad DD is not into. My son picks athletic pants almost every day even if I wish I would wear dressier options I think his comfort is probably more important to his paying attention.

    When I worked (in higher ed) I was probably on the more dressy end of things but still business casual. Business casual at DH’s office really just means so suit – they would never wear polo shirts to work.

  35. The other leggings you posted don’t have children in them. It’s hard to find pictures of Hanna leggings without dresses over them (because they would like you to pick up the $68 top that coordinates). However, they are equally revealing as Target leggings.

  36. Mooshi, what is it about those leggings that makes them look like pants, if it’s not the fact they they have patterns and the offensive underwear-looking ones you posted don’t?

  37. I was looking at DD’s friends and they were wearing leggings with short tops. But they are very slim so it suits them. If they were heavier it wouldn’t.

  38. I think clothes are an important signaling device, so when I’m in a situation where communication matters (with clients, attending or speaking at a conference, etc.), I choose my clothes very carefully.

  39. “My son picks athletic pants almost every day even if I wish I would wear dressier options I think his comfort is probably more important to his paying attention.”

    My boys exactly. I bought them dress shoes one year. They wore them once. Going forward I decided to only buy them dressier clothes if the occasion warranted it. Most holidays are very casual in my family, so no need for dressier clothes so far. They do have khaki/tan pants and collared shirts in a pinch, but would probably wear sneakers.

  40. Rhett, how do I get the URL of the pic of heather grey HA leggings with child, not covered by top, that I posted earlier?

  41. Saac,

    I assume you want it to appear like Ada’s did? You can’t with pics from their web site. You’d have to google it and then find a link to an image that ends in .gif or .jpg.

  42. @Rhett – I think DH may be wearing that exact outfit from Nordstrom that you posted today, but with a sweater over the top.

    I stopped buying DS anything but athletic clothes a couple years ago. He doesn’t even own a collared shirt of any kind at this point because he hasn’t needed it. He does have one pair of twill pants and one sweater, but I don’t even know if he has worn it. He hasn’t had dress shoes since he was last a ring bearer in his uncle’s wedding. I think that was over 3 years ago at this point. He usually has to dress up once a year for the Holiday show at school, but this year he wore a costume instead of dress clothes. He looks like a slob and is often mismatched, but I have other battles to fight. How he manages to be mismatched when his drawers only have navy, grey, black and Cubbie Blue is a mystery, but he manages to do it.

  43. “I tend to err on being more casual as being too dressy, when you’re a consultant, rubs a lot of people the wrong way.”

    How so?
    BITD, the standard advice, at least for attorneys in private practice, was that in case of doubt, to err on the side of more dressy rather than more casual.

  44. When our boys were young, I bought their dress shoes at Payless. They needed them for church, band/chorus concerts, and weddings/funerals, and it was less stress to just buy them every year than to run around looking when the need arose. Plus they did get handed down from older to younger.

    On the issue of office dress codes, BITD we didn’t have one at the law firm, but the understanding was clear. The men wore jackets and ties, with conservative shirts, and the women wore suits or severe dresses with man-tailored jackets. Stockings for women, which meant no open-toed shoes. One young friend who works at JP Morgan told me that her firm has a detailed dress code, because each time a young person wears something inappropriate, that item gets added to the code. Do your offices tend to have official, or unofficial dress codes?

  45. I met an old friend this week because she is visiting from LA. We described the “uniform” that our girls wear to school and it’s the same even though they’re 3000 miles apart. Black leggings, chestnut uggs and a black jacket. Tees change to match the climate.

    We agreed that it’s trickier when the weather changes because they all wear the same sneaker. It was easy last year with Adidas all stars, but it looks like Vans might be the choice for the Spring. I don’t like that so many middle and high school girls dress alike, but the black leggings are easy and comfortable vs jeans.

    I still do some minor travel for project work to a regional office, and I wear the same clothes that I would wear in NY. Black pants and some casual/business casual top. No leggings. I sometimes wear a jacket, but I rarely see that look much now in offices. I find that it’s easier in warm weather to just wear a dress in grey, black or navy.

  46. It’s interesting and confusing that business casual for men can mean polo shirts at one place and dress shirt but no tie and no jacket at another. At the NYC offices that I’m familiar with dress shirt no tie is standard.

    And I welcome the look of combo business/sneaker shoes for men. Even with suits they look nice, although obviously not appropriate for every situation. Something like this:

  47. OK, one more photo of what I find jarring on little girls. I think an extra inch or two on her top would have made a lot of difference. And, I realize I am probably just too old for the look. To my eye, these look like what we used to call “footless tights” when I was little – and when I was little, we would have been mortified to have our rears in tights exposed to the world. But times change.

  48. That tight leggings look doesn’t bother me much for little girls but I don’t care for it among pre-teens/teens and women. But whatever. If a woman has a smoking body she sometimes wants to flaunt it. (but not for the office!)

  49. One change I have made this year: I will no longer wear heels, ever. They just kill my feet, and I swear they are the equivalent of foot binding. So I now have my suits hemmed for flats, and on the rare occasion DH and are attending something dressy, I wear dressy flats with my dress. I have been so much happier as a result.

  50. Actually most yoga pants I see fit like MM’s link at 12:33. I still am not used to it, but I find for myself if I buy a larger size I like the fit on me much more.

  51. “I sometimes wear a jacket, but I rarely see that look much now in offices.”
    People don’t wear MM laFluer jardigans or this kind of thing?

    I agree with cheap dress shoes for kids. Mine currently has some that were on sale at Call it Spring for under $30.

    On changing dress codes: there was a BoA guy who took his golden parachute & floated back home to West Texas, where he got his buddy the provost to get him a position as Dean of Ed & Social Sciences. He wore a white dress shirt every day, was constantly trying to get profs to dress up. Completely out of touch with cultures in education & social sciences, but he was the boss. It wasn’t pretty.

  52. Scarlett – I think standards may have relaxed a bit since your kids were young – in general and definitely at Payless. Payless shoes last only a few weeks of regular wear in our house. Their quality has really done down.

    Luckily we have neighbors with a son older than my guys. We’ve inherited a lot of really nice clothes, boots and shoes from him.

    Back in my youth, I remember The Gap, The Limited and Benetton as being the fancy, cool stores. I wouldn’t not say the same these days about The Gap. No idea about the others.

  53. One last comment – if I had one piece of advice for women who work in my industry, it would be to be more deliberate in their dress. Business casual and casual have their place, especially at conferences, but there is so often such a sloppiness to it. It really does scream “I have better things to do” instead of “I’m here to work/learn/be present.” Men have it easier, for sure, but so many women seem to just give up.

  54. Lark – be careful with flats if you walk a lot. They don’t have a lot of support. I ended up with plantar fasciitis wearing them.

  55. My daughter definitely wore the sort of thing you just posted in elementary, MM, and she was motivated mainly by comfort and ease of movement (running around at recess, etc).

  56. CoC, I agree – it doesn’t bother me as much on little girls. I do draw the line at WHITE leggings, though – I make my girls wear dresses over those bc otherwise you can see the Disney-print underpants, and not just the VPL. I have found the Hanna and Primary leggings to be more pants-like.

    Scarlett – we have no formal dress code AFAIK. I am one of the more formally dressed attorneys – the divorce lawyers tend to wear skirts that are shorter than I deem OK for the office, and no blazers. We also have one partner that wears K Swiss sneakers every day unless he has a meeting. My secretary wears leggings about half the time, but she is the best secretary in the world so no one would ever comment on it.

  57. We’re allegedly business casual at work, and that’s how I dress there. Many people wear jeans and running shoes (or the equivalent) though, and no one cares. I sometimes go more casual, but I have so much business casual in my closet that I figure I might as well get use out of it.

    The sudden switch to 3 days at home left me quite unprepared, sartorially. I’ve just ratcheted up my household wardrobe again, to keep up with my snappy DH, who is smart casual 7 days/week and mostly works from home. I’ve dumped my leggings for skinny pants that look like pants but are as comfy as leggings. And thanks to DH, I’m now onto sneakers–think Common Projects, not running shoes. I can’t believe how much nicer it is to go about my day with this kind of cozy footwear on. I may have to bust these out at the office sometime.

  58. @ Kerri – yes – 90% of my waking hours are actually spent in running shoes. Flat are just when I’m client facing & in a suit or at a conference (or going out in the evening).

  59. MM, what is the point of footless tights? I don’t get it. How are they not just long johns?

    CoC, I wanted my kid to get something like that for school shoes for years, or Vans slip-ons, which I think look like boat shoes, not running shoes. He didn’t/doesn’t want to go near them. These days he’s wearing high top Chucks. He says he doesn’t understand why we used to play basketball in them. I wanted to give him my old leather high top Converse that I got for BB next time we were at my parents’ but his feet are now 2.5 sizes bigger than mine.

  60. I am actually in the market for low-profile sneakers – something less bulky than running shoes, that can be worn with a skort (think Titlenine, not the skorts our mother used to wear) or hiking pants (again, think Titlenine). Any recommendations? This type of outfit is my summer uniform, but as Kerri notes sandels all the time isn’t comfortable, and running shoes too bulky. (will see if image works)

  61. Sacnmama, I have no idea, They were popular in the late 60’s, in an era when footed tights were REALLY uncomfortable, and reappeared in the 80’s as part of the Flashdance look – but in that time, one would always wear a tunic top over it. And now they are back. Footless tights, long johns, tight leggings – it is all the same to me.

  62. “It really does scream “I have better things to do” instead of “I’m here to work/learn/be present.””

    Huh. To me it’s just the opposite. I think a perfect look says “This stuff is boring. Maybe if I give them something nice to look at, they won’t pay so much attention to my work” or “I’d rather do fashion than my job”. And I really don’t see how one can learn or focus in clothing that isn’t comfortable.

  63. It is kind of funny that schools don’t have uniforms because parents want to allow their students to express themselves sartorially, and then the kids end up wearing a uniform. The girls on our campus are virtually indistinguishable in their black North Face down coats and Ugg boots. (You can always tell the girls from warm climates because they are wearing those boots as soon as the temperature goes below 70.)

    It would have been very nice to have had the freedom to wear business casual at the office, but then again the dreadful suits at least required very little thought. Business casual seems like a potential minefield of “what not to wear,” plus with more clothing options, there are so many more decisions to make.

  64. I can’t focus on work if I am uncomfortable, and I find most uber-business clothing to be tight and uncomfortable. I end up spending my whole day scratching, and yanking the tight item back into position, and thinking about how I want to go home.

  65. Lark – Athleta has some. I recently got a pair of very low profile Sauconys made for Athleta and I love them. I have them on right now, with some nice pants that feel like tights, and the shoes really make the pants look great. Also, Common Projects — shown in many Lululemon ads. Or a more affordable knock off of Common Projects is at I also found a few other pairs in a search at Macy’s online. Put in “sneakers” and low for low cut or low profile or low something.

    My DH owns pretty much the entire Vivo Barefoot men’s line — very low profile and some are super sharp. I haven’t had luck finding cute women’s shoes there but haven’t looked in a while.

  66. “I may have to bust these out at the office sometime.”

    Do it! Nice sneakers have become something of an obsession with me, and at my age I can get away with wearing them almost everywhere. But I do think they can look nice on with lots of outfits, even with dresses. These metallic Pumas are the latest ones I’m breaking in.

  67. MM, I agree with your last sentence. A few years ago, I asked my Cleveland sister for fleece tights for Christmas. She got me a few pairs (generous), some of them footless (huh?) I wear socks over my tights, am mystified over the point of cozy, cuddly fleece + leaving toes to freeze.

  68. My son’s wardrobe is made up almost exclusively of hand me downs from two friends (and the one set I think he’s the fourth kid to wear them) so he actually has quite a bit of dress clothes. The dress clothes are almost like new because I think the other boys rarely wore the stuff and I plan to pass them on to my new nephew who will probably also wear each dressier item approximately twice.

    Scarlett – My oldest wore her Uggs today because it was only going to be in the 60s (which clearly calls for winter boots).

  69. “I can’t focus on work if I am uncomfortable, and I find most uber-business clothing to be tight and uncomfortable. I end up spending my whole day scratching, and yanking the tight item back into position, and thinking about how I want to go home.”


    This is why I spend the $ on Eileen Fisher. Looks professional (well, business casual anyway) and feels like PJs. So worth it. Also, all her colors go with the others, so it’s like Geranimals for grown-ups.

    My requirement for any clothing now is that I could be stuck on a delayed flight for 18 hours in the outfit and not be driven batty with discomfort. If I try it on and it doesn’t feel like it would fit that bill, I don’t get it. Just about 100% of EF’s stuff fits, so my work wardrobe–and much of my at-home wardrobe–has become just about 100% EF.

  70. But I do think they can look nice on with lots of outfits, even with dresses.

    Ah, CoC, you know this may be a sign that you’re metamorphosing into the proverbial little old lady in tennis shoes! But very gradually, I’m sure ;-)

  71. OK, this is how my DD prefers to dress these days. She is entering the age where it is best just to let her make her choices. Can we say emo? When she wears her Pikachu emo hat, it is actually really cute.

  72. (You can always tell the girls from warm climates because they are wearing those boots as soon as the temperature goes below 70.)

    That is us. Our boots are pristine.
    DD has ditched her tan Uggs because it has been so warm here.

  73. MM – I’ve tried on JJ stuff. To me, it feels so much less comfortable than EF that I find the EF price completely worth it. I honestly could curl up on the couch and take a nap in any EF outfit.

    There’s something about the fabric they use — holds up, drapes well and feels amazing. I’ve found no other brand that comes close. (Granted, I don’t like shopping, and once I found EF, I just started ordering it online and didn’t keep searching).

    I may be more sensitive about the feel of clothing than you are, though. I don’t want to be distracted by it for even a split second.

  74. This winter I have found that I almost need 2 sizes of work clothes – winter ones that can take the heattech leggings underneath (so bigger) and then smaller ones for summer. I mostly take my blazer off for commuting – not comfortable – and wear a fleece over my work top in the car if I am cold.

  75. eeek, the JCC where I swim just got a bomb threat. Now I am afraid to go swim, not because I am afraid of a bomb but because I am afraid of having to stand outside in my wet swimsuit

  76. “Business casual seems like a potential minefield of “what not to wear,” plus with more clothing options, there are so many more decisions to make.”

    Figure out the options that work for you, make your purchases (preferably Geranimals-style), and you’re set. What I don’t get are those articles proclaiming that your capsule wardrobe of 8 pieces can produce 400,320 outfits. That’s too much effort.

  77. MM – the JCC here had a bomb threat today, too. My DD is a nanny for 3 kids who go to the Hebrew Day School in town, and it’s housed at the JCC. They were evacuated for the morning, but are back to school now. I wonder if we’ll start hearing similar reports from other places — maybe a concerted effort at work?

  78. FYI: I am at work, wearing a tunic dress over footless leggings today.

    I refuse to wear scrubs. They look terrible on non-potbellied people.

  79. S&M – footless tights are easier to make, particularly if they are fleece tights. You would need to make shaped feet with the fleece material and it is not stretchy enough to work well and fit all different sizes of feet.

  80. How so?

    Some consultants get into trouble because they think they’ve been hired to be the new manager. Customers hate that, especially the actual manager. If you dress more like the staff and less like management, the staff doesn’t think of you as a second boss and the manager doesn’t view you as a threat.

  81. There is a regular here who likes to say that there aren’t really Jews in NOVA–they’re all in Maryland. No matter how many times I reply that actually, yes, there are, she still repeats it next chance she gets, as if wishing would make it so. Unfortunately, the news is out. There are Jews, a JCC, and a Jewish dayschool in Fairfax county. That’a where ‘saac went to preschool.

  82. Saacnmama, I have a good friend who is Jewish and who lives in Fairfax. She is part of a thriving community of Jewish people there.

  83. Risley,

    A friend my age and I agree that our goal with clothes is to feel as though we aren’t wearing any.

    Would Eileen Fisher meet that goal?

  84. saac, I think your 2:32 comment is out of line. It is both passive aggressive and hostile to another poster. Please don’t write like that.

  85. Did you find one?

    Not really – I’ve been trying to get into gen y finance guy but I’m not really feeling it.

    Milo had a great one called bad money advice but the guy got a new job and stopped blogging.

  86. I find these articles and discussions about how to dress for work to be interesting from an anthropological standpoint, but I’ve never seen one that applies to where I’ve worked.

  87. Scarlett – imho, absolutely. You forget you’re wearing EF clothes–I think that’s what you’re getting at. At the same time, the fabric is so good that the draping is amazing, so while you feel as comfortable as you might in a loose sleeping bag, you don’t look like you’re wearing a sack.

    My goal, along with the 18-hour airplane test, is to be as comfortable at work as I am at home. I don’t want to spend the day wishing I were in comfy clothes–I want to be in them, all the time. For me, EF meets that goal. No other brand I’ve tried comes close.

  88. “Milo had a great one called bad money advice but the guy got a new job and stopped blogging.”

    Yeah, I liked that guys’ blog. I don’t really like Gen Y Finance guy much for whatever reason.

    I have tried to get into Eileen Fisher a few times, but I feel like I am too young and chubby to go that “drapey” without adding years to my age. They have some great colors sometimes too – really rich reds that I love.

  89. sorry for responding to 2:32. I misread and it was referring to the opinion of someone outside the group. Shouldn’t read so fast

  90. I probably should have put the JCC post on the political thread. I was just picturing standing outside shivering in my swimsuit!

  91. When I worked in SV, it was not typical where I worked for anyone outside of top management or marketing to wear suits regularly, and none of my engineer friends at other companies wore suits daily. I’ve never worked in an office with a dress code, although back in HS I worked in a fast food place that had a dress code (covered shoes, dark blue or black pants or skirts, white button front shirts or blouses, with a company-issued apron or smock over that).

    Where I worked in SV, for male working level engineers the typical dress ranged from jeans, collared t-shirts, and athletic shoes to what the link in the OP describes as business casual. A lot of the female engineers also wore jeans, collared t-shirts, and athletic shoes. Managers (and wannabes) tended more toward the business casual look (e.g., khakis rather than jeans, Rockports rather than Nikes, button front shirts rather than golf shirts).

    We also had a lot of unofficial dress down Fridays, especially during the summers. For the marketing folks, they were official and they could wear business casual.

  92. I’m not too young for Eileen Fisher, but I’m definitely too fat. All that fabric just makes me look like a black silk sack of potatoes.

  93. The male business professional coat, with the different color sleeves, pockets, and pocket flaps, doesn’t strike me as all that professional looking.

  94. “If you dress more like the staff and less like management, the staff doesn’t think of you as a second boss and the manager doesn’t view you as a threat.”

    Is part of the goal to *look* as though you are part of the staff to the point that everyone forgets that you’re a consultant? Or is that impossible?

  95. Oh wait – is the EF stuff for OLD PEOPLE????? Drat!

    I find it drapey and lovely and it all makes me look taller than I am, and occasionally leaner than I am. For this, I will love EF forever.

    Yeah, sorry for responding about the JCC bit, though I suspect the reminders are not about my post or MM’s.

  96. “A friend my age and I agree that our goal with clothes is to feel as though we aren’t wearing any.”

    But, but, but… that would be COLD. I like to be warm.

  97. Eileen Fisher doesn’t have tall sizes either. Their pants are too short for me – the ankle pants would look like capris.

  98. Thanks Mooshi! I get really tired of the round and round with this other person setting herself up as the expert in a way that makes a huge part of my kid’s life just not exist. It is really hurtful, as she already knows.

  99. Risley,

    I just took a look at the EF site, and those clothes are not for old people! They look like clothes for tall willowy models. But they also look like clothes that you can’t toss into the washing machine. Can you?

  100. Louise, where did you find the EF top? No store around here sells them so I’m guessing they would require a trip to the big city or online shopping.

  101. “A friend my age and I agree that our goal with clothes is to feel as though we aren’t wearing any.”

    But, but, but… that would be COLD. I like to be warm.

    You are too funny! Besides not liking to have my clothes make themselves noticeable to me, I think professional attire should also not be memorable for other people. You want to be remembered for your work, not your clothes.

  102. Risley, the people griping about the JCC thing are pissed that I’m upset that there are bomb threats against my kid’s first preschool, which we loved, and that I’ve gotten tired of hearing that the community that meant so much to us simply doesn’t exist. You are very good at putting a good spin on things. I guess it’s good that they didn’t actually blow the place up. Can you think of anything else?

  103. Lark, your note to me is very clear. Would you please also explain to this other person that repeatedly claiming that a group of people does not exist, no matter how many times I point out that it does, is really mean?

  104. “the ankle pants would look like capris”

    Reminds me of a pair of jeans DD loved. First they were full-length jeans, then capris, then shorts.

  105. Scarlett – Lord & Taylor online. Had never bought from them online. They had some good choices and I added them to my mental list of stores.

  106. MM – I think those might be the pants I have–the ones that feel as comfy as leggings but look like pants. I only took a quick look though. Mine have a button and zipper and front and back pockets, as well as seams — all the normal pant features.

    Louise/L – I wear petite in pants, but I can wear regular small in tops, depending on the top. I find EF pants are narrow and quite flattering–lengthening and slimming. L must be right about the length, because I do have some EF pants that are just small, not petite/small, and they fit. So a taller person would certainly have an issue. Not a problem I have.

    Scarlett – I buy the stuff online at Nordstrom and Macy’s. For some reason, the Macy’s in our city has the largest EF collection of any store in any city in our state. But Nordie’s sometimes has things that Macy’s doesn’t have, so I always check both. Just last week, I ordered a few things from each place, as they each had things the others didn’t.

  107. saac, could you please stop the nasty comments today? Many of us have read posts from regulars that we don’t agree with once in a while, but can you please stop the mean comments? I understand that the real news of the day is important, but this is a blog post about clothes. I am sure that there are a lot of other places on the internet where you can discuss why you are so upset about the threats against JCCs.

  108. “For some reason, the Macy’s in our city has the largest EF collection of any store in any city in our state.”

    Perhaps because a devoted customer lives there?

  109. Oh, and Scarlett – I dry clean mine. Which is to say I put them in DH’s dry cleaning bag and he takes them with his stuff, then picks them up. If I had to actually do this errand myself, I might feel differently about EF. :)

  110. Maybe this is the difference between consultants looking like managers or employees: IT consultants and consultant lawyers are expected to be smart in different ways. IT is hired to support the project someone else is doing (even if that means setting up a whole structure the client knows nothing about–it just has to work), whereas lawyers are expected to represent the client to others in ways that look and feel smart, so looking like a boss/leader is a positive.

  111. I have a few pieces from EF and I can generally find many of her items on sale because so many of the departments stores carry her stuff. She is still based in this area, and she is a big supporter of local women/business. If you are really a groupie, you can to take a brief train ride from midtown to visit her lab store and headquarters. It is next to one of the metro north stations, and there are some great restaurants in the same area.

  112. Lauren – that’s cool. What does one do at a lab store? Buy things that others haven’t seen yet? Does EF ever make an appearance there? Could I hug her? Or would that be totally *not NYC* and cause me to be booted from the premises immediately? :)

  113. I went to that EF lab store with a EF “groupie” relative visiting from out of town. Plus they have a “green” store nearby where they sell used and other items at lower prices. But I have to say that for me EF is too drapey/voluminous and makes me feel shorter. I don’t go for many of her looks, but I do have a few cotton casual tops that I love. The pants I’ve tried on make me feel old for some reason. I prefer pants that hold me in more, and usually not with elastic waists.

  114. “sure that there are a lot of other places on the internet where you can discuss…JCC”. But this is where people have brought it up. Sorry if it’s upsetting you.

    I recently ordered things from Lord & Taylor, Patagonia, Land’s End, and Nordstroms. Everything was shipped to me at home, and I took it elsewhere. I decided to mail in the returns from there. Land’s End & Nordstroms were the easiest to return things to by mail. Lord and Taylor was the most difficult. I don’t think that they paid return postage (not sure about that). The other places were all fine using their records of the purchase to look up the amount to refund. Lord and Taylor insisted I include the receipt that came in the box with the clothes, so I had to schlepp that stuff back home to send in with the correct paperwork. Otherwise they would have given me a refund that was about 30% of what I’d paid in a rare (for me) full-price order. It isn’t like they couldn’t figure out what I’d paid–it was right there in the order confirmation email i offered to print out and send in. There are plenty of other places to order from, so I won’t use them again

  115. “I prefer pants that hold me in more” Hmm, that may be the opposite of clothes that “feel as though we aren’t wearing any”.

  116. CoC, I used to hate elastic waistbands. As my waist got more squishy, I started to see how they could be comfortable. What do you think of “control panels” a la Miricle Suit? They give me a tummy ache!

  117. Would you please also explain to this other person that repeatedly claiming that a group of people does not exist, no matter how many times I point out that it does, is really mean?


  118. CofC – yeah, I’m veering more to real pants, though for a different reason. I think the more structured look–pockets, seams, fly–is just sharper. But EF has lots of those now….

  119. I’m also quite happy if none of you buys anything from EF, of course! Don’t want to sound like I’m trying to sell something here. Doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

  120. CoC,
    White House Black Market has nice slim ankle ponte pants that have some stretch but don’t bag out after a single wearing. I wore the black ones four days in a row in Paris last December. Can be tossed in the washer and dryer and they are “real pants” with the pockets, fly, etc. They don’t *quite* meet the naked test, but pretty close! And the price is right.

  121. I don’t know, Risley – next you might be telling us about how your Cozi has made your life so much more organized!! ;)

  122. Risley, you got me to go look at EF :) I love that the booties are available in three heights, with no apparent prejudice. The clothes look drapery and comfortable, but maybe too much fabric for me. Also, i don’t do very well with wool. This is an outfit (not as professional, I know, but I still feel “put together” in it) that I find super-super, sleepable comfortable. Austin missed her post, but if she comes around later, I’m curious if this is the kind of leggings/tunic pairings she was talking about in the original post.

  123. If I ever win Powerball I’m going to buy every clothing item in the Pendleton catalog. Someone else can have the blankets; I don’t care for them.

  124. “Someone else can have the blankets; I don’t care for them.”
    I’ve got mine–a beaver tail blanket from when Mom was growing up in Minnesota. So much lanolin! I’m usually itchy around wool, but this just feels soft and nice. I like the weight too.

  125. “But I have to say that for me EF is too drapey/voluminous and makes me feel shorter. ”

    Yeah – that’s what I meant. It makes me look/feel dumpy, which is aging I think. Plus, some of the very drapey looks in expensive fabrics make me think of female creative executives of a certain age. With jewelry from the MOMA store and funky reading glasses. It’s a very stylish look that I just can’t pull off. And I don’t need reading glasses yet. :)

  126. ha-ha, the EF dress you love would make me look like dumpy, whereas the one you can’t pull off would totaly work on me (though I avoid white because I get splotches everywhere)

  127. I always assumed that mmlafleur was a scam because it leaves ad droppings all over my FB feed

  128. Risley – I did have a beautiful Eileen Fisher outfit that was a dark bluish/green – with a shell, a longish, straight skirt and then a short jacket. It was lightweight but since the color was darker (and it was a knit) I could wear it for a lot of the year. I loved it but it finally wore out. I hadn’t thought about that outfit in years, so thank you for reminding me. Now I want to look at the website!

  129. I wish i had seen this topic earlier! I wear a dress or a skirt and top to work every day along with flats. I will wear black leggings under the dress when it’s cold.

    I will say we tend to be more casual on the West coast but I am not a fan of the leggings and t-shirt look for work. A lot of coordinators wear it and i find it quite unprofessional.

    Also, not a fan of lularoe leggings for work.

  130. The countdown to Season 5 of The Americans begins.
    I have to watch the finale of season 4 in order to remember the plot though….

  131. Ivy, I think both of those are just too straight for my tastes. Maybe you’ve got more curves in the right places than I do (my butt these days has lost its perk & fits the description Meryl Streep gave of hers–a sack of soggy pancakes) but on me both dresses would either just hang straight down in an uninspired way, or even worse, my tummy would stick out. The model in the silk one has curved her back into a “c” to give the silk one some shape. Amazing how everybody’s body & tastes are so different. And good thing none of us is trying to pick bridesmaid dresses for ten of our closest friends, lol!

  132. I used to have a pair of EF silk pants. They were lightweight and comfy, as I recall. I must have worn them out and decommissioned them a while ago, I guess.

    I like Laundry by Shelli Segal, at least the work-appropriate end of the line — I’m not buying the halter-neck pantsuits and cocktail dresses so much. I think that’s an LA-based brand, and probably not an East Coast sensibility. Here’s a dress I have and like:

  133. I have a Laundry dress I got at the Saks Off 5th at the nearby outlet mall. I really like the quality.

    I am too cheap for EF. The dress style for professional women in my office ranges from dressy jeans to dresses/suits. I interact with someone in Houston for work-related stuff maybe once a quarter. Some days, I say nothing more than hi to people in the office all day, so I don’t feel a lot of pressure to dress up. I do care about looking pulled together and professional, so wouldn’t wear jeans and t-shirt. I typically wear ankle pants with a blouse or cardigan, or a knit skirt and sweater with tights and boots. I always wear flats or boots because I try to squeeze a walk or stairs in when I can. I try to dress up my outfits with cute jewelry or scarves, and I wear makeup, which I don’t bother with at home.

    I don’t care much what people wear, but there are some young women that wear very short and tight clothes suitable for the club, paired with very high heels. I have told the younger women I know (daughter’s friends) not to wear that look in the office, and frequently think these girls really need a mentor to help them with their look.

  134. Timely post, since I spent last weekend cleaning out my closet. I think I could use some shopping advice from L!

    I need to replace most of my work wardrobe. For the days where I need suits, I like Theory pantsuits (I’m tall), but I have no idea where to get decent-looking business casual work clothes anymore. And new jeans. I’m only about 5 pounds heavier than before kids, but those extra 5 went straight to the stomach. Any suggestions for jeans that have at least a 35″ inseam AND are forgiving of a little extra stomach?

  135. Ivy, I have that same EF dress! Sometimes I like it and sometimes it feels too bulky. And I do wear it with sneakers. :)

  136. All those EF outfits get shown with the world’s ugliest, clunkiest shoes. Y’all must have legs like a Barbie doll to pull that off. CoC, slim tennies would look much better. Do you wear little Peds with them?

  137. I wear no-show socks. One of my favorite sneakers, both for comfort and for looks, are Reeboks skyscape, like these.

  138. Fred, is this a topic of conversation around your shop?

    Inside Harvard’s Radical Plan to Reverse a Decade of Poor Returns:
    Harvard will use a generalist approach where staffers look across the entire portfolio to make investment decisions

  139. Early on Jan. 25, staffers at Harvard University’s endowment streamed into the boardroom on the 14th floor of its offices in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s building. In back-to-back sessions, endowment executives told them big changes were coming to Harvard’s investment strategy, and that half the firm’s 230-person staff would be laid off.

  140. GreenEyes – I also like Theory. You might try J Crew for tall pants – their talls are too long for me (I am medium tall, not extra tall), or the places on this list.

    For dresses, Boden often has nice (business casual) dresses in talls with lengths approx. 39″ or 40″ – they post all their garment measurements so you can really tell how they would fit. HOWEVER Boden does not do talls for their blouses or jackets, which is too bad since their sleeves are often too short. J Crew and Banana also have tall dresses (in fewer styles IIRC).

  141. The Laundry dress posted by honolulu is the shining example of the dress I should never ever wear. Completely wrong for my body. The button up top would gap crazily because I am too flat chested, and the whole thing would ride up because I have a long torso. I learned years ago that belted dresses and long torsos don’t mix.

  142. “ha-ha, the EF dress you love would make me look like dumpy, whereas the one you can’t pull off would totaly work on me (though I avoid white because I get splotches everywhere)”

    Funny! I am on the shorter side but busty can carry weight in my belly. I constantly worry that I look pregnant.

    COC – I have worn that dress with Supergas on weekends (or flip flops), but I wear it to the office with a nice necklace and wedge heel sandals. (Those Reeboks look more comfortable than the Supergas which are all canvas so they can give blisters even with no show socks.)

    I love Boden – it fits me well, and I love the patterns/colors. HM – that dress looks like something that I would wear to the office in the summer.

  143. I wear dresses most days, with tights in the winter or bare legs in the summer. I have a difficult time finding pants that fit (I only have two dressy pairs that I can wear to work) and I find that dresses can better accommodate weight swings. The dresses are comfortable, flattering and machine washable. My go-to labels right now are Ralph Lauren and Nik and Zoe. I also like Boden. On dress-down Fridays I wear skinny jeans or leggings with a long (butt covering) cardigan and short boots. I love the pictures of the sneakers that COC and Louise posted.

    My company recently transition to business casual but I still wear a lot of business clothes because that’s what I have.

  144. CoC – I have been looking for sneakers like but in all one color – no white sole or laces. Really hard to find. I’m wearing a low cut, all black pair of Skechers right now. It feels like wearing slippers. They don’t have enough support to wear for really long walks, but get me to the kids’ school, subway and office OK. I often forget to switch into work shoes and (I think I) get away with these.

  145. Suggestions for brands of tights that don’t run instantly and actually kind of fit? My particular problem is that they sag on my little corgi legs and the crotch rides down around mid-thigh.

  146. “Suggestions for brands of tights that don’t run instantly and actually kind of fit? ”

    Yes please!

  147. RMS – I have Spanx tights that are great. According to the ladies at corporette, the quality has gone down in the last couple of years, but I haven’t noticed that. I go a size up from what the size chart says I should be since my height is in my legs, and there is no sagging/falling down. :)

  148. I am going to have to try Spanx bras because I do like their tights and find the quality well worth the price. We are full on business here with a super casual jeans Friday. I attended a conference in New York on a Friday and brought a skirt and pants and blazer with dressy business top. Also had jeans for the plane ride home -almost put the jeans on thinking maybe it was more casual since it is Friday but so glad I went with the pants. Everyone was wearing a full suit! Dallas is more dressy generally. My last job was business casual and was more of the dockers and button down (which I do not wear). I wear a lot of dresses and feel like pants is dressing down. I recently updated all of my business wardrobe and used a personal shopper and had everything tailored. It was a good experience. I prefer to wear dresses mostly because it involves one less decision in the morning (versus separates).

  149. I think Hue tights are pretty good – sold at Nordstrom and much lower price point than Spanx or Wolford. I recently bought Wolford tights and I did not care for them.

  150. GreenEyes – Not My Daughters Jeans are engineered pretty well to cover stomachs. I really like Hugo Boss for work wear but I am short and not petite in build.

  151. I like Ralph Lauren tights but my local Lord & Taylor stopped carrying them. Hue is pretty good, too, and I get those at Marshall’s. I live in my NYDJ leggings at home. They are thick, warm, well made and don’t show underwear lines.

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