You probably have your everyday work wardrobe sorted, whether office-appropriate for you means jeans and a T-shirt, a uniform, or a classic suit. Then, your boss decides to throw a spanner in the works by announcing a team outing. Suddenly, your wardrobe is completely empty and nothing fits. To save you from panicking, here are some helpful tips on dressing for your work event, answering questions a variety of questions, from those of definition (what does ‘casual attire’ really mean?) to logistics (how often should you wash a bra, anyway?).
Keep It Conservative
This is a fine line to tread, but whether you’re attending a summery barbeque, away day or office party, work events aren’t really the time to wear your most fashion-forward items, however much you love them. Keep to simple styles in block colours or classic prints like stripes and florals. When it comes to your hair, keep some of it off your face so that you can easily make eye contact and won’t be tempted to fiddle with it if you unexpectedly find yourself in conversation with the CEO.
As long as you stick those rules, don’t stress too much, and feel free to show off some of your personality outside the office – there are plenty of ways to bring your own style to even the most classic outfits. If you think it’s appropriate, add in some bold shoes or eyeliner to liven up your ensemble. And if you need to bring a gift for the host, think of something fun and memorable, whether they’re into slush machines or circus tricks.
Dress for the Occasion
Every work event is different, and clues about what you should wear are sometimes easy to miss. Here are some key words you might see on the invitation or hear bandied about, which will help you know what’s best to wear:
- Casual: you might think this is the easiest option, but remember to go slightly smarter than you would while meeting friends: think sleek black skinnies rather than boyfriend jeans.
- Formal: this probably doesn’t mean full red carpet, but you do need to up your game. Materials really make a formal dress stand out: go for something in stiff brocade, taffeta, silk or with touches of lace, while avoiding cotton or obviously synthetic fabrics. Feel free to wear a tailored version of a man’s smart suit if that helps you feel more comfortable.
- Office attire: you can just keep the same outfit you’ve been wearing all day to this one, right? Well, with a few modifications. Keep some statement earrings or a bracelet on hand to change up your outfit slightly. You may also want to add subtle smoky eyes or a darker lip colour to make the transition from day to night.
Whatever outfit you end up choosing, it’s important to plan what you’re wearing underneath in advance. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect LBD only to realise on the night that all your black bras are in the wash! But how often should you wash a bra? Ideally, aim for after every two to three wears, although of course the answer to the question “how often should you wash a bra” varies with the seasons.
Above all, remember to have fun: who knows, you might make some great, lasting connections while you’re ostensibly working!