Infographic – No leggings please. And more women's workplace attire tips

Industry News & Insights Management Newlook_2

You know they say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. It’s why I tend to dress a little like an early-era Stevie Nicks. And why this photo caption is funny.

What they mean, though, is that you should emulate the higher ups in your company – or at other companies – in whose footsteps you would like to follow.

That’s one of the tips in this infographic from New Look on women’s business attire for the workplace and job interview.

These days, in many industries, you can deviate from some of the more staid fashion norms we’ve seen in offices up until recent years. Now we see sleeveless dresses, tank tops, flip flops, skinny jeans, and tattoos in offices. But you should still always be well groomed and well covered. Regardless, the advice here is still sound (though I do feel the need to say that I did notice the grammatical error in the header – just so you don’t think I missed it).

More tips include: don’t wear anything ripped, and no leggings or yoga pants. Yes, please let’s pass on the word that leggings are not pants, and that they make a poor substitute. Not everyone seems to have gotten this memo. Keep the cleavage under wraps, groom your feet if you’re going to show them, and ixnay on the three inch platform pumps.

It’s suggested that you keep your nails manicured with a light, neutral polish. I flout this rule regularly with flashy nail art. But that doesn’t mean you have to.

Some good research on dressing for success was recently conducted by the Harvard Business School. Authors of a paper titled The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity found that those who deliberately flout conventional norms of style and appearance, can actually appear to have a higher level of power than those who don’t.

Note, however, that key to making this work is being clear that your nonconformity is intentional: a confident expression of individuality and creativity. If it seems like you are simply unaware of how you’re supposed to dress, then you risk people thinking you’re just clueless.

Note also that you should usually err on the conservative side for the interview. You can let your freak flag fly later.

Here are New Look’s tips for dressing for the workplace.

New Look infographic

  • Rosario

    We can wear leggings at our township office where I work providing we wear them with nice dress shoes.

    • Guest

      Interesting. I have to say I disapprove!

      • Anne Donnelly

        This wouldn’t be so bad if the butt is covered. A longer dress shirt or flowy top covering the butt is way more appropriate. Think of what you would be showing if you have to bend over in front of a male co-worker or customer? Seriously!! If a man were to wear a tight dress pant that revealed the shape of his “package” is that appropriate?

        • Rosario

          Bending over in a short skirt has a more revealing effect but yes if the leggings are some what see through the longer shirt is a good idea. I haven’t see tight dress pants for men but guys do wear leggings and if their package is showing, well I can’t say if that is appropriate or not. I guess I wouldn’t think any thing of it.

    • Dissident Aggressor

      I approve of that look 110%!!!

      • Rosario

        Thank you I am so glad you approve. 🙂

    • coolchick

      I don’t think the short shirt is appropriate. But everyone has their own taste.
      I would go with the fashion ‘intention’ at this time and a heel would be paired with a nice tunic or blouse that came past the bum.
      There is no designer that would put heels, leggings and a t-shirt together. It looks unprofessional.

      • Rosario

        Why do you say heels and leggings look unprofessional?? I think I pull off leggings and heels just fine.

    • Taylor

      Rosario – I think you’re getting defensive and should seriously rethink
      the free advice you’re getting over and over again here. No one is
      telling you what to wear at home or when you go out. I’m not even saying
      that leggings are never appropriate, but the leggings and heels looks
      like a 5 year old trying on Mom’s shoes, or an employee who changed at
      work and forgot the bottom half of her outfit.

      Leggings are way
      too tight to wear without your butt covered by a nice shirt or dress
      (and I think the top should be something professional and classy to
      balance the leggings, not a tight tee or casual sweater). Adding the heels makes it look even less
      professional, not more so. No offense, but with that outfit you’re
      giving the impression that you don’t have the confidence in yourself to
      get by on your abilities, so you’re falling back on your body instead…

      • Rosario

        Taylor – Sorry if it sounds like I am being defensive, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way. I know the general feeling is that one should wear a top that covers their rear when wearing leggings and sometimes I do. Where I live everyone wears leggings as pants, meaning their butts are not covered and it’s not even an issue here. Leggings are pants and I do feel confident when I wear them that way so do the majority of people I know. Thanks for the advice but I have over 50 pairs of really comfortable leggings and I hope to be still wearing them when I am 80.

  • Guest

    I approve of that look 110%!!

  • Linda B

    I do believe your butt should be covered. I wear mine at the office with flats and mid thigh top or dress. Totally appropiate!

    • Rosario

      I cover my butt if the leggings are see through. I couldn’t wear a dress over leggings… it looks like something how my Mom dressed me in grade school. At least this is still another vote for wearing leggings to the office. I am so glad those days are gone when we had to wear pantyhose as part of office dress code. They were the most horrible article of clothing and you had to adjust them 50 times a day.

  • Anna Smith

    Sorry Rosario, but I strongly believe that leggings are not pants and, together with yoga pants, should never be worn anywhere but home or gym, no matter how comfortable they are. Leggings paired with heels look ridiculous, pretty much as a fur coat worn with sneakers (!?). I am not conservative as far as fashion is concerned, but I think there are timeless rules, and just because you see someone wearing certain clothes does not automatically make it appropriate.
    Wish everyone a nice fashion sense! 🙂

  • coolchick

    Leggings and
    tight jeans (jeggings) are a huge fashion component at this time.
    I think they can be part of a classy outfit, and the rear end should definitely be covered.
    As always, it depends on where you work.
    In the software and IT world, leggings is a step up from some of the jeans I see people wearing.
    Leggings with a fashionable long top and a nice shoe or bootie can have a very professional look.

  • Sam

    Leggings are completely fine if they are used in the same way as tights (under a dress or something like that). If they are worn as pants they are a definite no-no.

    I don’t think makeup is needed at all for an interview. You can take pride in your appearance without makeup. I also think it’s silly to insist on wearing your hair up. Those of us with curly hair would look more unkempt if we had it pulled back, as opposed to letting it flow.

  • Sari Boudreau

    Leggings are great as a substitute for pantyhose. Love them in the winter…keeps my legs warmer when I wear skirts. That being said…some glad I work for myself, because I have a real problem with dress codes. Most adults know how to dress for whatever situations they are in. As long as they look neat and presentable, they don’t need to be told what they can and can’t wear.

    • Erin

      You’d think but I regularly have to have conversations with both men and women about their inappropriate attire at work. The see-through shirt with no bra, leggings, more leggings, guys in tank tops with the sides cut out and nothing on underneath, even more leggings, holes in the groin area of jeans. I work in a fairly opened minded profession – TV production – but inappropriate is inappropriate regardless of the setting.

  • Dana

    I have to say no to leggings at work too! I don’t care what type of shoes you wear you butt should not be the focal point at the workplace which it is. Just ask a man when he sees a woman in leggings……one man stated a woman looked almost naked in leggings.

  • Erin

    No leggings at work, period. Set aside the fact that most are see-through (trust me ladies, you may think they aren’t, but they so very are), they don’t need to be see through for me to have far more information regarding your anatomy than I should for someone who hasn’t seen you naked. Doesn’t matter how confident you feel in them, your colleagues don’t respect you as much as they would if you’d keep your privates properly covered.

    • Ygritte Snow

      I disagree. If I’m sitting at a desk for 8 hours, god forbid I wear pants without give in the waist. Leggings – nice, thick ones, like the ones made out of ponte fabric, or thinner cotton ones with a long tunic/sweater/cardigan or short dress keep me appropriately covered and comfortable so I don’t end up with bruises on my waist line.

      And god forbid you see the shape of my thighs. *gasp* oh, the horror!