The Fitting Room: Office-Appropriate Necklines & Sleeve Lengths

It’s a fact: office dressing needs its own set of rules. I’ve worked everywhere from a corporate office to a casual start-up to Rue’s stylish halls, and my wardrobe’s changed drastically for each one. Tank tops? Totes fine at my start-up. But show up in a tank in the corporate world and expect sly whispers of, she’s showing her upper arms

So, to spare you any office-wear mishaps, here’s a quick cheat sheet covering the very shortest sleeve lengths and lowest necklines appropriate, no matter where you work.

The Corporate Office

Sleeve length:  If hesitant, go 3/4 length or longer. But I think somewhere between a short sleeve and elbow-length it completely appropriate, especially when paired with a higher neck.

Neckline: I’m a firm believer that cleavage is never appropriate – no matter where you work. But it’s especially true in the corporate world. Which means – no deep V’s please. So long as you’re not showing that little cleavage indent, you can still look professional.

The Creative Office

Sleeve length: You can get away with a lot at a creative office – Rue’s stylish workplace is pure testament to the fact that leather and even PJs can be decidedly office-appropriate. But just say no to thin-strapped tanks and tube tops. Cap sleeve is the shortest I’d go here – and sleeveless tops, so long as they’re structured (like peplum) or loose-fitting.

Neckline: Nothing lower than a small V – that cleavage rule still applies. If you choose a lower neckline, try a longer sleeve and a fluttery fabric.

The Casual Office

Sleeve length: More casual fabrics are OK here, but stick to sleeveless, cap sleeves, or longer. Yes, there might be people wearing strappy tanks day in and day out, but having that extra bit of polish can really set you apart from the pack.

Neckline: Again, stick to a small V or scoop neck. If you’d wear it out on a Saturday night, it’s a definite no.

By Joanna Berliner, Editor

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September 24, 2012