What NOT To Wear To The Office This Summer

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There are tech startups that allow employees to come to the office in pajamas and do their work while sitting in massage chairs and drinking from a complimentary keg. But most other employers -- including virtually most of the Fortune 500 -- are fighting this attitude, especially when it comes to work wear.

As soon as Generation Y began to enter the workplace, the old guard gritted its teeth. A senior partner at one law firm wasn't quite sure how to reply, when a summer hire texted: "Are bras required as part of the dress code?"

A Tennessee judge was even moved to write a memo earlier this month reminding female attorneys to dress court-appropriate.

And this isn't just happening in the states. Prestigious companies in Australia came under fire last year for holding what-to-wear workshops for their young, female employees. Many of these youthful high-achievers didn't enjoy being told to wear skirts instead of pants, and how best to apply eye shadow. "I think it's a little degrading and women usually know what to do," said one young lawyer.

These tensions will only rise as this part of the planet heats up over the coming months, and sleeves and hemlines shorten. So as you pick out your summer office wardrobe, here are 10 clothing styles to probably avoid. If you're reading this while at work, however, and you're sitting in a massage chair drinking from a complimentary keg, feel free to ignore this advice.


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What Not To Wear At Work This Summer
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What NOT To Wear To The Office This Summer

You can buy some pretty boutique flip-flops these days (like this pair for $18,000, which helps save the rainforest). But most flip-flops are as basic as the thong footwear of our most ancient ancestors, and as inappropriate for the office as the loincloth they were often paired with. Well, definitely not as inappropriate as a loincloth, but same idea. 

You bought it with your buddies on a beach vacation you hazily remember, and still think it's hilarious. "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor," "FBI Female Body Inspector," "If You See Da Police, Warn A Brother." Who comes up with that stuff? Let's hope they're paid gobs. And while the T-shirt's witty slogan might make you feel like a boss as you stroll down the sidewalk, your actual boss will think you look like a silly man. 

There might be some occasions where a giant glittery D&G is appropriate, but there's no need to copyedit a report in a sweater that screams, "I cost $1,200."

Of course, certain heritage logos in certain places are completely fine; few people are scandalized by a Chanel quilted bag.

Knickerbockers were classic clothing through the 19th and early 20th century -- for little boys. And shorts have never totally shaken that stigma. While Tom Ford may still contend that shorts are only for the beach or the tennis court, men can now feel the breeze against their calves in most places without getting strange looks. The office, however, is the final frontier. 

You're a busy man/woman, and don't have time to dry every strand of hair before hustling out the door. And the "wet look" is a thing, right? Unfortunately, wet hair can also give the impression that you just tumbled out of bed, and don't give an enough of a doodle about your day job to groom to completion. Best to stay safe and dry.

Policing cleavage makes sense; it's the edge of an erogenous zone. Policing thigh exposure makes sense; it's inching very close to a very serious erogenous zone. But the taboo around stomach display is a little less logical. Perhaps it's because decolletage and the above-the-knee area have been on-show, to various degrees, for centuries. Seeing a lady's stomach, on the other hand, was something usually reserved for intimate encounters.

Society hasn't fully adapted yet to a hint of stomach outside of the beach, athletic contests, and night clubs. And despite the gleaming on-display abs of the 1990s, midriff-baring clothes haven't yet made it as appropriate workplace wear. 

It peeks out from the side of your dress strap, a titillating clue to what lies beneath, a glimmer of your more intimate, sensual undergarment-wearing self. That is what a visible bra strap signals, and that is not a signal that you want to project in the workplace. And you know an interesting thing about "nude" bra straps? Humans can still see them. Nude is not, in fact, a color with a light-reflecting frequency outside the visible spectrum. 

From the front, you are an all-professional woman, well-groomed and put-together, conservative, perhaps even severe. And then you turn around and BAM! That's a girl ready for a night on the town! You can see at least 28 of your 33 vertebrae! Backs are not sexualized terrain like cleavage, or thighs, or even stomachs. But still, a plunging neckline on either side of your person is probably best saved for after-hours.

"Barefoot" shoes have a lot of disciples, who claim the thin souls and toe-divisions leverage the body's natural biomechanics, reduce the risk of running injuries, and improve posture, balance  and agility. But the barefoot revolution hasn't hit the office yet. And it's probably wise to avoid any piece of clothing that 50 percent of the population finds creepy-looking. 

Rips and tears have strutted plenty of catwalks, with their "screw society," anti-authority chic.  But most workplaces want you to like society and authority. So rips and tears, even carefully crafted by Parisian designers, are best left for your weekends of sticking it to the man.
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