If you're a regular Who What Wear reader, we hope you know we celebrate sartorial experimentation and embracing the journey that comes with discovering and honing your own personal style. As such, we don't love making "rules"—we view our service more as guidelines and thought starters—but if there is one area that we tend to see as a little more black and white, it's dressing for a corporate office.
Unfortunately, that is one time and place that's not generally conducive to taking huge fashion risks—anything that might compromise your professional standing is better suited for myriad other occasions (like brunch, a night out, a casual park day… the list is really endless).
Here we're zeroing in on the 10 wardrobe items that tend to skew a little iffy if not in a creative or otherwise laid-back environment and the swaps that are more generally office-friendly.
The sheer trend might be having a moment, but its revealing nature is hard to pull off at the office. Play it safe and keep the "naked" trend for less conservative occasions. A top with light embellishment (like cool pearl appliques) has the same amount of cool factor without reading risqué.
Available in sizes XS to L.
Denim shorts are wonderful in many ways, but they can feel too casual (and are often too short, by some standards) for a professional setting. Wide-leg cropped pants and culottes sit comfortably through the hip and are a cool, casual alternative.
Available in sizes 00 to 14.
Crop tops and matching sets are way cute for summer, but exposing your midsection at work is generally a no-no. A jumpsuit is an easier way to wear a head-to-toe color or print—add a blazer on top to amp up the workwear vibes.
Available in sizes 0 to 12.
We've all been there—sitting in skirt at your desk for eight miserable hours not realizing how short it really was until that first fateful moment you stand up. Midis and maxis are safer (and more comfortable) bets.
Available in sizes XS to 4X.
Hear us out: We love a deep V-neck, but anything that shows a lot of cleavage is probably better worn on the weekends and after-hours. A more office-appropriate statement around the décolleté is an eye-catching necklace worn with your favorite blouse.
Those super-shredded jeans you love? Your boss might not feel the same way. A little distressing can be okay, but save the heavy-duty stuff for when you're off the clock. Try trousers with cool detailing at the hems, such as fringe or ruffles, instead.
Available in sizes P to M.
The wardrobe malfunction potential of a tube dress is probably a bit too high for that important meeting you're about to run. A classic shirtdress always looks good for professional engagements and more casual occasions alike.
Available in sizes 14W to 22W.
Yes to cute lingerie! But make sure it's truly underwear for your 9-to-5. Get your fill of dainty fabrics with a lace top—just make sure you're wearing a cami underneath so it doesn't violate our first no-no on this list.
Available in sizes XS to XL.
The continued rise of athleisure has made more comfort-first, casual pieces acceptable in certain situations. Baseball hats, however, could still be perceived as unprofessional in an office setting. If you're hiding a bad hair day, try a silk scarf as a headband to conceal greasy roots.
Even if they intentionally look lived in (and cost a pretty penny), dirty sneakers could cause some head-scratching around a corporate office. Flat mules have a similar comfort factor but look more elevated while on the clock.
Available in sizes 6 to 10.
Opening Image: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images