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What to wear to work: Your 9 to 5 office dressing cheat sheet

Author: Elle Canada

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What to wear to work: Your 9 to 5 office dressing cheat sheet

Figuring out what to wear to work can often feel like a total chore—and it seems the rules for office dressing are more blurred than ever. We consulted Toronto-based stylist Sansyrae St. Martin for tips on dressing appropriately for both creative and corporate environments.

9-5 cheat sheet: Corporate cool.
Staple piece: A well-cut blazer.

“In most cases, a full suit is no longer necessary for the office,” says St. Martin. “But I love the professional appeal of a classic blazer. If you’re curvy, pair it with an A-line skirt or dress in navy, plum, camel, grey or black with a soft camisole.” For other figures, try a pencil skirt and crisp blouse. “As a general rule, you can unbutton up to two inches below the top of your collar bone,” St. Martin advises. But don’t go any lower: nothing destroys credibility faster than showing major skin at work.

9-5 cheat sheet: Best foot forward
Staple piece: A classic, neutral pump.
“If you’re in a corporate environment, it’s best to wear a classic, neutral pump between two inches and three inches high,” says St. Martin. And according to the stylist, the shape of the toe matters as well. “You want a slightly rounded toe that still comes to a point,” she says. “Think of your index finger and thumb as the hands on a clock. Place your index finger at 12 and your thumb at 2:30—the point of your shoe should fit into the curve of your fingers nicely.” And as much as you may want to break out the 5-inch Louboutins, hold off until the weekend. “Be sure to keep it simple,” says St. Martin.

What should you wear if you work in a creative field? Find out on the next page... MJCL-4-0997-EQ259.jpg9-5 cheat sheet: Get creative
Staple piece: A statement necklace

“When you’re working in a creative field, it’s very important to show your taste level and personality,” says St. Martin. “A lot of the corporate rules still apply—especially in terms of modesty—but it’s important to add colour and detail to your outfit.” Don’t be afraid to experiment with accessories, like cuffs, belts, scarves, or our favourite, a great necklace. Accessories have the ability to elevate an otherwise drab outfit, and if you’re unsure, you can always add or subtract pieces as the day goes on.

9-5 cheat sheet:
Interview dressing do’s and don’ts
Staple piece: Classic earrings (we love pearl studs!)

Interview dressing is a specialty all its own. “Don’t wear open toe shoes, sneakers, boots or heels over 3 inches,” advises St. Martin. “Showing too much skin is risky—anything shorter than mid-thigh is not appropriate, neither is décolletage or bare arms. And never, ever wear shorts to an interview—even if you wear tights underneath, it’s still not a good look!” Do make sure to wear something classic and elegant. “Simple accessories like a pearl necklace, stud earrings or an elegant bracelet are great,” says St. Martin. “And be sure to wear something you are comfortable in—fidgeting will distract your interviewer and make you seem unconfident in your abilities.

Check out more advice from Sansyrae St. Martin (as well as can’t miss job interview outfits) in the April issue of ELLE Canada.

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What to wear to work: Your 9 to 5 office dressing cheat sheet