The general rule is, regardless of whether you are at the office, or at a restaurant; you are representing your company to both your superiors as well as the general public. You're probably bursting to show off your gorgeous new tan and coral lipstick, but is this the right forum in which to showcase your summer bod?
If you work in a professional office, such as a law firm – you are unlikely to want to wear a suit to a dinner, or cocktail party. Steer clear of the summer cocktail dresses and thongs, and opt for a nice blouse in a metallic or dark shade, (no cleavage please!) to go with your suit pants, add some jewellery to accessorise and literally let your hair down! This shows that you are definitely 'out of the office' but are still being respectful towards your co-workers and industry.
Do you get to wear jeans to work? Lucky you! You are already half way there, as casual clothing makes it so much easier to transition to after 5. Well, not so much! You may be tempted to add on some make-up and a pair of heels to 'dress up' your casual look, but this tactic can so very easily turn into a boring and risky look. Instead, wear a simple dress in a block colour and some mid to high level heels. This may surprise you, but if you are wearing casual clothes to work, it's best you take your fashion to a slightly higher level at functions, you don't want to wear 'weekend' clothes all the time, do you?
Retail or Hospitality
If you wear a uniform, then the prospect of getting your fashion on might be a little bit too much to handle, and you might go overboard! Think about where you are going to be, who is attending and who you might run into. If you work in the service industry, you are bound to run into a customer or supplier or potential future employer. The phrase 'smart casual' can send some people into spasms of self-doubt, but it really is the way to go. Think coloured pants or jeans with simple tops, no slogans or branding and no sequins or dangly earrings.
It goes without saying that anything too revealing or tight will be a hard thing for people to forget about, in a bad way – no matter how relaxed your workplace is, emulating your favourite pop star is not going to let you keep the level of respect you've earned. At the end of the day, dress in something you are comfortable in and fits in with your work culture without smothering your personal style. As a parting note, something I learnt from a photographer: Never experiment with a new hairstyle on the day of a party.
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