Every office has their own set of guidelines on appropriate workwear; there are companies are quite lax, while others are quite strict. Some HR departments will simply state “smart casual,” while others will go into full detail of what is and is not accepted in the workplace. Sometimes, guards won’t let you into the office buildings unless you abide by their dress code. But no matter where you work, you have a basic understanding of the right workwear for different settings. Business casual is never as casual as your weekend outfits. Regardless if your company allows jeans and shorts, there’s always a sense of professionalism that you want to convey in your ensemble. Your appearance is not a measure of your ability, but think about it. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you constantly show up to work in tsinelas and a tank top.
For the most part, dress codes are straightforward and easy to follow. Other times, many things are left open to interpretation, particularly skirt and dress length for the ladies. A dress may look perfectly fine on a 5’0 pinay, but on woman who stands at 5’10, it might lead to a warning from HR. Even those that are the same height can look different in the same skirt. Body type can also skew whether one is dressed provocatively for work. And in the battle between whose interpretation of “too short,” HR always comes out on top.
It’s tricky figuring out what dresses and skirts are too short in the place of business. Appropriate length depends on height, body proportions, style and fit of the clothing item. The only way to find out if you can enter the office in your new mini is by trying it on yourself.
No one wants to be tracked down by HR, only to be scolded for being “a distraction” at the workplace. To save yourself from the embarrassment, here a few questions to ask yourself when you’re getting ready for work:
1) How much of my thighs can I see when I sit down?
A skirt might look a modest length when standing up, but it’s a different story when you sit down at your desk. Dresses and skirts will automatically rise several inches up your thighs, which will be more skin than you intended to show. The amount of leg shown while sitting depends on the design and fit. For that reason, the general rule of thumb is to stick with clothes no more than one or two inches above the knee. This gives you some leeway, in case you forget to do the sitting down test before heading to the office.
2) Is my dress or skirt a bodycon?
Bodycon dresses and skirts are hard to get away with at work, considering how body-hugging they are. Then again, it’s different on every woman. Curvy ladies look instantly sexier in a form-fitted dress in comparison to petite, thin girls who look work-decent in a black mini bandage skirt. If you are on the curvier side, be mindful of what you put on display, in addition to the hem. Pair a bodycon skirt with a longer, looser blouse to cover your booty. Match a bodycon dress with a blazer that partially covers your behind. Just think of ways to tone down the sexiness of your bodycon.
In some instances, a bodycon dress could be worn on its own if it’s the right length and design on top. For example, the t-shirt frock as seen on our Cap Sleeve Jersey Bodycon Midi Dress hits below the knee and provides more coverage at the top.
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3) Would I wear this to church?
If the first two questions still leave you stumped, ask yourself whether you would wear it to Sunday Mass. Although not all church events are formal, there’s a certain level of conservatism that you should maintain in your outfit of choice. In that same respect, this can also help you figure out if a dress or skirt is appropriate in the office setting. Yes, some things can be worn in the workplace and not in church without getting in trouble, but you’re better off opting for the more conservative item in your selection.
By asking yourself these three questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of what stylish yet rule-abiding work ensemble looks like. And if you need to refresh that office capsule wardrobe, Pretty Me has a ton of midi skirts and midi dresses that you can wear to your 9 to 5.
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Sheena is the lead fashion writer here at Pretty Me Philippines and has contributed articles for numerous lifestyle blogs and online publications. Other than keeping up with the latest trends, she loves baking and home DIY projects.