By LARSON BINZER- In the relationship between millennial employees and middle-aged employers, determining what constitutes “professional” has never been as difficult as it is in today’s age of casual Fridays and sneaker-suit combos. However, there are some timeless tricks that will help you dress for any office.

The Formal Office

DO: Heels
DON’T: Plain flats
“Once, my boss pointed out flats I was wearing and said they were too casual,” Jane Doe*, a paralegal at a law firm in downtown Manhattan, says. Keep a pair of black heels at the office in case you need to look “extra professional.”

DO: Satin blouse
DON’T: A printed shirt
“Sometimes cotton shirts or shirts with prints might be acceptable, but they could be worn the wrong way and cause a problem,” Doe says. It’s better to stick to the basics, such as a nice silk or satin shirt or a button down that could go with a suit.

DO: Pencil skirt or slacks
DON’T: Cotton dress or flowing skirts

Photo by: telegraph.co.uk

Photo by: telegraph.co.uk

First, decide if you like pants or skirts better so you don’t waste money buying both, Doe says. Then buy several classic pieces that can be mixed with nice shirts. However, a cotton dress or non-pencil skirt will probably not fit in with the professional setting.

The Business-Casual Office

DO: Heels
DON’T: Sneakers
If you’re wondering if you look sufficiently professional, just add heels, says full-time Congressional Intern, Anna Hewat, whose office dress code is business casual. Low, understated heels are a quick way to transform your outfit and show you’re ready to work. Sneakers, however, show that you’re ready to hit the gym.

DO: Blazer
DON’T: Pull-over
Pull-over’s have a tendency to mess up an outfit or look sloppy. A blazer, however, is another quick trick to professionalize your look, according to Hewit. And luckily, blazers go well on top of any outfit, from a cute dress to slacks.

DO: Represent your boss well
DON’T: Embarrass your office
Ultimately, an employee is a representative of his or her boss and the company he or she works for, Hewat says. With that idea kept in the forefront of all fashion choices, no dedicated worker will go wrong dressing for work.

 

The Office Without a Dress Code

DO: Dress with class
DON’T: Dress for a bar

Photo by: www.college fashion.net

Photo by: www.college fashion.net

“At one paper I worked at without a dress code, there were [two interns] who wore very revealing, sexy outfits to work, including sheer tops with no bra, crop tops, and very brief cutoffs… which made the whole place look unprofessional,” Sadie Stein, a journalist who writes about dress codes for various newspapers in New York, says. Just because there is no written rule against revealing clothing doesn’t mean it will be professional or appropriate by default.

DO: Dress for your mind
DON’T: Dress for your bed
Dressing in a way that will put you in your personal best “work mode” should be the most important factor when choosing what to wear, Stein says. Impose a dress code on yourself that makes you ready and willing to work, separating you from your couch mentality.

DO: Dress comfortably
DON’T: Push boundaries
“It’s nice to feel comfortable at work,” says 22-year old Maggie Akers, a Recruiting Coordinator for Google, a company that is known for its casual work environment. “But personally, I wouldn’t wear yoga pants to work, even though many people do… because I do want to look put together and professional.” Don’t wear something questionable just because someone else has.

However, no matter the office, the most important thing is to dress in accordance with how you want to be seen, according to Stein. “Dress for that more than for the job you want,” she says. “Because the person you want to be is more than just that job.”