May 3, 2011

Today's Everyday Fashion: Office Dress Codes






































Every time I post an office look I wonder what you guys wear to work. Dress codes vary so widely between offices, it's difficult to generalize what outfits might work for you. If you job is at an ad agency or magazine, it's likely that your dress code is very lax and today's look is too formal. If you work at a bank or attorney's office, then it's likely that today's outfit is a bit too risque. I've come up with a few guidelines that I think are universal for office jobs (sort of the "bare minimum" of what everyone should be doing). Feel free to weigh in on guidelines that you follow in the comment section, I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

J's office guidelines:
- Don't go strapless. I think that no matter how casual your office, if you work in an actual office building, it's not acceptable to wear a strapless dress or top. Go sleeveless - but the smallest I would go is a thick strap like in today's shirt.
- Don't go short. No matter how casual things are, I think it's best to keep things 2-3 inches above your knees, at the most. Shorts may be in style, but I wouldn't wear them to work unless they follow this rule, so most likely you'll need to go with a bermuda-style short.
- Pass on sleepwear. When it comes to sweatpants and hoodies - leave 'em at home. I think a v-neck t-shirt can be great for work, but I would tuck it into a pencil skirt, or dress it up with a statement necklace. I also think you can incorporate a sweater with a hood into your outfit, but again it should be dressed up with a collared shirt or another appropriate work piece. Overall, don't go so casual that you might be mistaken for 1. not caring about your job, or 2. that you are sleeping on the job!
- Get creative. Today's look is an example of how you can stay within these "modesty" guidelines, but still have fun! If you work in a creative environment, you can wear jeans, and fun details like a leopard shirt or spiked shoes. Don't feel like you have to give up on style and flare altogether. You should feel free to show plenty of personality, just keep it classy! ;-)

Inspiration photo: Who What Wear
Shirt: Express, $35
Belt: Forever 21, $5
Skirt: Express, really old
Shoes: Steve Madden/Ross, $20
Watch: Michael Kors, family gift
Bracelets: Forever 21, $8
Earrings: c/o Mikel Maia

62 comments:

  1. Love the blog! You've provided me with lots of inspiration outfits. Would you agree that strapless dresses may be office appropriate if worn with a blazer or cardigan? I've worn that look to work and received lots of compliments.

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  2. I work for a youth services department and in schools... some days I'm actually required to wear jeans and tshirts! But most days, jeans, flats, and sweaters are perfect. Sometimes I miss getting more dressed up for work!

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  3. I agree with just about everything except for the sleeveless thing. I don't think bare armpits are acceptable at work, but it also probably depends on what part of the country you live.

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  4. I work in locked mental health which means pants, no heels, no sleeveless, no big necklaces, earrings or scarves. I love my job and I've been there for years, but I'm so envious of those who get to have a work style. I'm jeans, flats/ boots and cardigans most days!

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  5. I love the work tips! Such a good idea. thanks for sharing!
    http://work-it-blog.blogspot.com/

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  6. Love your advice. I should print it out for some of the interns in my office.

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  7. Thanks for the advice! I'll be working in the finance industry - banking - so it will be relatively conservative. Although the clothes you wear are too risque for my industry, I like coming here to get inspiration and ideas!

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  8. I work in a corporate environment but it seems that anything goes. It's often cold in my office so I don't do much sleeveless, nor do I see anyone else doing it either!

    The bigger issue I have that people's style is "how" they wear their clothes. So many guys around here wear polos and khakis, but their pants are wrinkled and their shirts are untucked. Women wear pants that are too short and stretched out sweaters. I wish people would just wear clothes that fit properly and learn how to use an iron!

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  9. Yes! I agree with all of your bullets. I work in a very large workplace that is surprisingly casual and it disheartens me to see people dressed in sweat pants, flip flops, hoochie skirts/dresses, and spaghetti straps. I was taught that you should dress like you want to be treated! Clearly, these people were not :)

    I love today's outfit! I would probably pair it with a red/black cardigan (only because it's about 65 degrees in my office) but it is definitely in line with how I dress at work.

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  10. I love this outfit. Appropriate for work althought I would wear a black cardi to tone down the animal print (and look more office appropriate than dressed for happy hour! )

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  11. LOVE this look! I need some serious help on things to wear for work...Come be my stylist!! I am not allowed to wear sleeveless tops. Which I have TONS of shirts w/o sleeves so I end up having to bring a cardigan. I am also...kind of lazy! Oh and the men in my office creep me out so I refuse to wear skirts....I would love to wear them and dresses but I find it so hard to find modest/attractive clothing.

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  12. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Katie, I think this fits nicely under point #3. People wearing wrinkled and/or clothes that don't fit properly look like 1. they don't care about their jobs, 2. they are sleeping on the job! :-)

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  13. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Interesting... I've never thought about it terms of armpits! It definitely depends on the region you live in for that point though - it's way too hot in FL most of the time for anything but armpits. :-)

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  14. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Michelle, I actually like that strategy. I would buy sleeveless tops for work and then wear them with cardigans. But then you have a bunch of fun sleeveless tops to wear on the weekend too! (whereas if you bought a long-sleeve blouse, you might not wear it for "fun" occasions)

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  15. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Cath, that's kind of the point of today's post. In some offices, this would be the perfect outfit, but in others it wouldn't be appropriate at all. I don't see this outfit working for happy hour though, at least not for someone in their 20's (it's way too corporate).

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  16. Such a perfect look, you can always throw a cardi over it since it's ALWAYS cold in the office! You absolutely nailed it with your tips. I couldn't agree more. I think it's always better to OVERdress than to UNDERdress. You won't get sent home for wearing a suit to work, but you will for wearing a miniskirt and tube top!
    xoxo
    Lia

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  17. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    That's a great tip Lia - err on the side of dressing too nice! :-)

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  18. These are great rules! My work is dressy casual. I can wear khakis and chinos but no jeans! However, they are not so conservative that I can't have fun! I recently bought a bright yellow pencil skirt and everyone loved it. But now I'm having a problem pairing it with more than just a black shirt...haha!

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  19. Love your tips. I was always told when I was just getting started that you "dress for the job you want." Wish I could pass that tidbit to my spaghetti-strapped, flip-flopped, cleavage-baring coworkers. :) Though I guess it really only applies to office jobs, since other kinds of jobs have uniforms or restrictions based on comfort or safety. My office does have a business casual dress code, but I have never seen it enforced, and on Fridays it becomes way more "sloppy casual," than "business casual."

    I live and work in DC, which is notorious for its buttoned-up and bland fashion, so I think today's look would totally rock a happy hour here. :)

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  20. This is too attention-grabbing for me in the office. The red belt and platform pumps really accentuate the look. The only thing corporate-looking to me is the black skirt. I totally agree with the idea that you should look like you are trying to make a good presentation. We don't always agree with each other's choices but if my coworkers put some thought into their outfit, it usually works for me.

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  21. My mom thinks it's a faux pas to wear jeans to work - even if other people do and you work in a more casual environment. I disagree, although you want to be stylish and appropriate, you will want to fit into the corporate culture. What do you think?

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  22. SmartWomanAtlantaMay 3, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    You nailed it with this outfit! I love it!
    The pop of red (belt) really sets this outfit off.
    I think it is totally appropriate for an office setting. I totally agree with you about wearing tops with thick straps into the office. Back in the day, I thought wearing sleeveless tops was totally inappropriate, but I learned to loosen up a little and finally started wearing thick-strap tops. It's all about how you carry yourself, too. Act like a lady and you'll be treated like one.

    I'm loving the animal print top and see nothing wrong with wearing it to the office. The black skirt really tones it down. I usually stay away from anything animal print, but I'm now putting it on my list of must haves in the form of a top, belt, purse, scarf and jewelry pieces. Thanks for the inspiration, J!

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  23. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Jeans are the norm now, so I think it's perfectly acceptable. Especially if you wear a dark wash with a blazer, collared shirt and heels - you can really hardly tell the difference between jeans and dress pants if you think about it. (I mean what's the difference - a little poly blended with the cotton?)

    I think you make an excellent point about fitting in with the corporate culture though. You never want to draw so much attention to yourself that your boss starts to wonder about you. So if the boss is always in jeans, and you are in a suit... he's going to wonder about you. I suggest flying a little lower under the radar than that!

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  24. Vollertsen JosephineMay 3, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Great guidelines! I work in a pretty casual work environment, business casual that is. Usually I am one of the few dressed up people. How do you feel about if you are wearing leggings to work? How short can what goes on top be? I've gone with the if it covers your booty rule but wearing that to work doesn't seem appropriate to me for so e reason.

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  25. Maybe that's my age (mid-30's) or my origins (I am French), but I would totally wear this (without a cardi) for happy hour !! What would you wear for happy hour? That's a post idea... !

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  26. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I think I might be confusing what "happy hour" is - are you talking about going to a bar straight from work? Or just going to a bar? If I'm just going to a bar, this is way too corporate. If I'm going somewhere after work, I would just wear whatever I had on at work. :-)

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  27. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Someone recently asked about leggings at work on Facebook and this was my tip: I think it totally depends on your work's dress code, but leggings can be great for work. I would just make sure your dress/top isn't more than 5 inches above your knee. They are great to add extra coverage to a dress that's just an inch too short, or when it's chilly. Just don't use them as pants (!!) and you should be fine. :-)

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  28. I love your outfit!!

    I am pretty conservative in my opinion about work attire. I would say no sleeveless. Also I think (even if you have great legs!) a woman should ALWAYS wear pantyhose with a skirt or dress!! (Unless it is a casual sundress.) And a slip underneath. And no flip flops or toes showing at work.
    :)

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  29. I have that same top from Express! You look great! :)

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  30. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Thanks Hollie! The point of today's post is that it's tough to make generalizations about what's acceptable b/c it's really more about YOUR own office and what the "norm" is there. Your norm may be no sleeveless, and that's fine, but it's also a companies' decision if they want their employees in jeans and t-shirts. (and some offices do!)

    I have to disagree with you about pantyhose though. No one should be wearing pantyhose, ever!! They shouldn't even be selling it anymore!! Even Tim Gunn agrees that it's bad. Tights are great and can achieve the same coverage, but please say no to pantyhose. :-)

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  31. My mom taught me the same thing. "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."

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  32. Could you wear it with a light blue shirt? Bright blue? Coral? Brown?

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  33. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    I love all of Michelle's suggestions! I have a yellow and magenta look coming up tomorrow, you could pretty much do any shade of green, pink or blue with your yellow skirt!

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  34. THANK YOU for this post! There is another blogger out there - no need to call her out by name - who does mostly healthy living/lifestyle but has recently started posting her outfits. A number of her "work" outfits have included short shorts, off the shoulder tops, tube tops, and leggings with just a tank. Granted she has explained numerous times that her office is super casual but everytime I see one of those posts I just want to scream "I GET THAT YOUR OFFICE IS CASUAL, but WHAT ARE YOUR OFFICE RULES". Just because you can wear something, doesn't mean you should.

    I love the outfit you put together here.

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  35. I love this outfit! I think its very professional yet super trendy and sophisticated.

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  36. I disagree, J. As a young lawyer in Chicago I despise wearing nylons, but you look really out of place if you're not wearing them at the office and they're a must in court. Someone needs to tell the corporate and legal industries that nylons just aren't fashionable!

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  37. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    That was Tim Gunn's issue - he was blasting companies for still requiring them. So outdated, sorry you have to go through that! :-(

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  38. I just wanted to follow up on this and say that said blogger is great - clearly this is a personal pet peeve of mine and no judgment to her. If I was MAJORLY bothered I wouldn't be following her! (Just my disclaimer)

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  39. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Eliza, just wrote you an email. I know what you are referring to and I couldn't agree more. On both points. :-)

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  40. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Love it Leah - use it for inspiration, then adjust to your industry. Makes sense!

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  41. Thanks so much for this post! It's very helpful. I just switched jobs. My old job -- journalism -- was super casual. Now I'm in the wine industry where we've had casual Friday once in the six months I've been here. So needless to say I'm getting used to dressing up more. It's great though, because I'm now actually really caring about how I look. Before ... not so much. Keep these types of tips coming!

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  42. Hi J! I'm a follower who never comments, but felt compelled to comment on this post. I think you have great style, and I think you're SO right in saying that every office is different in its style culture. I think it's really important to take style cues from the best dressed of those around you at work (funny how a lot of time those are the hardest working people, too!) :)

    My office is split about 50/50 between men and women, and I'm about the youngest at age 27. We are business casual (not banking or law, but not a totally creative field, either). I err on the side of more formal, because I do think I feel I have to prove myself still, being young for my office. I have to say that initially I found this outfit a bit of a confusing/surprising example for an office dress code post.

    I don't know...at some point do we, as young women, earn the right to dress in a more flashy way? (And I know flashy is relative- leopard print/sleeveless/platforms are flashy for me, corporate for you!) Is there some inherent outdated sexism in that sentiment? I'm NOT criticizing your outfit for your own work environment, but it's hard seeing outside what may be my stuffy old lady-ish prism :)

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  43. You are on it! I love when you post outfits that I can put together with pieces I already own. I will definitely recreate this one. Thanks!

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  44. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Hi! Welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting! :-) I purposely used this "loud" outfit to get the convo going today. I totally respect that this look isn't appropriate for every office and that was my intent in posting. As for your question, I don't necessarily think you earn the right to dress more flashy unless that's a personal journey that you are on and feel led to do so. I think the biggest factor here is just work environment. Take cues from your boss - if they wear loud prints, skinny jeans and huge platforms (as mine did for 4 years!) then by all means you should feel free to experiment and wear animal prints too. :-)

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  45. I love, love, love this! I don't know how you wear those platforms! I have such a hard time in heels that I tend to lean towards flats. I would love to rock some heels at work though! Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any that fit! They are either too big or too small. (Too big by flipping off my heel and too small by cramping my foot) Any suggestions? I love your blog! It's my daily inspiration :) I would wear this outfit with a cardigan primarily because I'm always cold! Oh, and regular heels... If I can get up the courage!

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  46. Great advice!! I love your leopard and red - very sassy!

    http://sweetandsassy-sherry.blogspot.com/

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  47. jseverydayfashionMay 3, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Lindsay, it's true that pumps need to fit well for them to be comfy. Too small or too big makes for not a fun day! A slightly too big shoe you can add inserts to, but too small I wouldn't buy. I'm planning to do a post on how to find comfy heels soon so stay tuned! :-)

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  48. Hey There Carole!May 3, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Thankfully my organization allows us to wear basically what we want within reason. I can wear open toed shoes... my friend's office doesn't allow her through the door without nylons and closed toe shoes. Way to stringent for me.

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  49. As a young lawyer in Portland, OR (I admit a much more casual place than Chicago, I am happy to say I rarely see a woman wearing nylons though tights are very popular.

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  50. Thank you for all the suggestions! I know this is going to sound ridiculous but I have to stay away from blue...because blue and yellow are GA Tech colors and I'm a UGA girl! But I'm dying to find some coral...that's a great idea!

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  51. Oh, definitely- I know there are some offices that allow jeans and t's, if I worked there I would wear them, too!
    I don't think i'll get over the pantyhose thing, though. LOL. It bothers me when I see someone in a professional outfit, work, church, whatever, with naked legs. Just says not professional (just to me!- I know it is not necessary anymore in today's society, and many women look great without 'em.) I am sure my mom would be happy knowing this was drilled into me-haha.

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  52. I think yellow goes perfect with gray! That is one of my favorite combination. Also try it with darker shade of olive green. Browns will be good too.

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  53. I used to work in an office (finance dept. of a large healthcare facility) with a very strict dress code - no open-toe shoes, no sleeveless shirts/dresses, always pantyhose with all skirts or socks with pants, no perfume.. With all my love for dressing up it was horrible! I couldn't wear most of my nice shoes to work.. So when I decided to switch jobs, one of my very important points was my future dress code. If it was anything like my old one, I wouldn't consider this job... That's how fed up I was with my old boring-looking environment! ))) So when I came to my new office (finance dept of a large corporation), I was so happy! People seemed much happier there either. They were more concentrated on their work rather than thinking whether their sleeves are too short that day.. I think for the first couple of months I was dressing up like I am still going to the interviews (hopefully nobody was thinking I am getting paid way too much)))

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  54. jseverydayfashionMay 5, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    Lena, totally hear ya! I would definitely turn down a job with a strict dress code. That might be crazy to some people, but it's not worth my daily comfort/happiness to work in an environment like that! I need to be able to flex my creative muscle a 'lil bit. :-)

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  55. That's what I do! I have cute sleeveless top with ruffles etc on the front that look really cute under a cardigan and then i wear them with jeans when I'm not at the office! double your wardrobe!

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  56. Oh, I forgot to comment on your outfit! )) I love it! It also looks great on you since you have some tan. I like that you don't overdo the leopard thing (you know how some girls like to put a few "matching" things at once, which doesn't work with animal prints..). After this look I thought right away about another combination with red/leopard/black + white.. I think it was on the cover of the book "InStyle The new secrets of style". If you google this, you will see what I mean - white shirt, black skirt, red belt, leopard shoes. Looks chic as well ))

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  57. I work for a state agency with a reasonable dress code: no jeans (no denim), spaghetti straps, or shorts. But we can wear open-toed shoes, capris, sleeveless shirts, etc. I sometimes will wear spaghettis straps or a strapless dress with a cardigan, blazer, or cropped jacket/ sweater to keep the look more professional (and its always cold in my office). After work, I can just take off the jacket (if its warm out ) and the dress and sandals is casual enough for running around in. I like the outfit you posted!

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  58. Well who needs tight black leggings with killer legs like yours! Nice!

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  59. Hi J, I found your blog a couple days ago and honestly I couldn't go away from it, it is just amazing. I need some help about what to wear in my new job.  I am a physical therapist and I work with children with disabilities which means that I need to wear very comfortable clothes since I will be most of the time on a mat.  The dress code is simple, no open shoes, socks all the time since I will be on socks on the mat, no cleavage.  I can wear jeans but they are not very comfortable in this job so I prefer scrub pants or cargo pants.  I really want to look stylish but it is kind of difficult....any suggestions???

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  60. Hi Kathy, welcome to the blog! :-) I want to recommend this article, it is for anyone starting out fresh, and especially for finding a new work wardrobe. http://www.jseverydayfashion.com/2011/07/four-easy-office-style-secrets.html Also, specific to your situation I would recommend fun color combos and prints (since bold jewelry is going to be tough), and you could also try belts (around your waist or through your belt loops) or wearing cardigans as another layer and adding another color to your outfit. Hope this helps!

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