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Adulting: Outfits we wish we could wear at work

We’re not sure who invented the outline of “professional work attire,” but we kind of hate them. Now that we’re grown-ups, we’re playing by those rules. Do you know what they are?

Adulting no-nos Photo credits (clockwise, left to right): Forever 21, Hot Topic, Manic Panic, Bakers

Ahhh, college. Remember the days when you could show up wearing pretty much anything (or close to nothing) and no one said a word? Once you’ve graduated, though, those days are over. Just so we’re clear, let’s try to stay away from these professional fashion faux pas.

PJ pants

We totally showed up to Writing for Professionals in plaid pyjama pants and a tank top. Sadly that super-hot T.A. had lower standards than our stuffy new boss does. You’re going to need to start setting your alarm earlier.

Adulting PJ pants

Photo credit: Old Navy ($8-13)

Last night’s dress from your date

There is not a single instance in which your walk of shame should end at your office. Trust us. It’s better to be an hour late than to show up smelling like booze-ooze and looking like you came straight off a stranger’s couch.

Adulting dresses

Photo credit: LoveCulture ($31) and Charlotte Russe ($33)

Band shirts

In the right office, on a casual Friday, with a cardigan and a skirt or dress pants, a crisp, fitted band shirt might be acceptable from time to time. In general, though, you should probably come to work looking a little more like an adult.

Adulting band shirts

Photo credit: Hot Topic ($18-20)

That skirt (or those see-through pants)

Sure. They’re black, so they seem more “work appropriate” than the floral or tribal print versions. Yes, they’re also a step up from the sheer pants with no liner at all. But rolling into a professional office at 9 a.m. in an outfit that could also work for a hot date in Miami Beach is not smart. Good rule of thumb: No sheer pants ever, and skirts should follow the high school rule of (at least) going past your fingertips. Why? Because you want your boss’s love to come when you do good work, not when you accidentally flash him.

Adulting, pants, skirt

Photo credits: Dillard’s ($107) and Forever 21 ($15)

Those heels

Heels can totally be work appropriate — unless they’re 6 inches high and covered in glitter or spikes. (Glitter or spikes might possibly be appropriate on flats, within reason.) If any part of those heels is made of lucite, then you should not wear them to work under any conditions. Unless, you know, you work someplace with a pole. Then you can do what you want.

Adulting, shoes

Photo credits: Sinful Shoes ($63) and Bakers ($66)


Just no, OK? No. If you’re working in a college town and it’s the Friday before or after a big game, then you could chance it with a nice, well-fitting shirt or polo with your school’s mascot on it. You’ll need to pair it with the right pieces, though. And even then, it would probably be a good idea to call a couple other co-workers to see if they’re doing the same.

Adulting sportswear

Photo credits: Toronto Maple Leafs ($32) and Team Canada ($35)

Any unnatural hair colour

Want blue hair? Then find a job where you can freelance and work from home. No one in an office setting will take you seriously with pink hair. Even if you started with “boring brown” and just want to spice it up for the summer, be prepared for some strange looks. And if you’re in a position where you’re seen by clients or people outside the office, then expect a long conversation with the boss lady.

Adulting hair

Photo credits: Manic Panic ($15)

We know, this all seems so cruel. How can you possibly express yourself and show your co-workers who you really are without having fun with your wardrobe? You could try, you know, chatting during lunch. In general, though, your days of “expressing yourself” are about to come to a drastic halt five days out of the week. Sorry, sister.

More fashion tips

Pyjamas disguised as pants: Where to find them and how to rock them
How to shop your closet like a fashion editor
How to wear graphic prints without looking like a clown

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