When there’s a chill in the air, work place fashion faux pas run rampant. Usually it’s because people cling onto their summer wardrobes or don’t know how to dress fashionably while also staying warm. Well we’re here to prove style and warmth aren’t mutually exclusive (but remember that Ugg boots and our approval are).
Shoes are especially difficult to coordinate during fall and winter. Having tons of adorable sandals and even flats might not get you anywhere in the colder months — or will it? This article will discuss the major shoe faux pas for winter work wear and point out a few of the exceptions. Sit back and relax as we walk you through the fashion basics.
That’s right, guys — you’re not off the hook! In fact, you may even have a harder time sporting the right footwear at work, and we’ve seen some tragic examples.
Faux Pas 1: Wearing sneakers or dress shoes. The latter doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re working in Miami, Oahu, or any spring break location, but if you’re in wintery areas, snow won’t show your leather dress shoes any mercy.
Dress shoes might not be a smart way to go, but sneakers are just unacceptable in the workplace. We know if one of your daily activities involves fighting off frostbite, it might be tempting to throw on some sneakers and socks and run to work Forrest Gump style just to keep your toes warm. Trust us: there’s a better way.
When your commute involves potential snow sloshing, make sure you own a pair of sturdy but professional-looking boots. Which brings us to our next faux pas….
Faux Pas 2: Wearing rugged boots. So you’ve heeded our advice about the first faux pas, but your boots look straight out of a John Wayne movie or an episode of Ax Men. Don’t just pick up any pair of boots and call it a day; the pair has to be comfortable, sensible, and professional, which is a tricky trifecta to find. So tricky, in fact, that there’s a whole article in The New York Times about it.
Once you’ve tracked down the perfect pair, make sure you use common sense about how to pair boots with suits. If your boots lean toward the casual side, wearing them with a sharp, perfectly tailored suit might look a little odd. Look in the mirror, and if you can play the what-doesn’t-belong-in-this-picture game, try again.
Faux Pas 3: Making waterproof too chic. If you’re panicked about Faux Pas 2, this will offer you a bit of relief. You don’t have to sacrifice all of your masculinity for the sake of workplace etiquette. It’s unnecessary to search far and wide for a professional boot that’s also waterproof (and also unadvisable).
An Esquire writer recommends purchasing a pair of rubber Wellingtons. Now that’s not so bad, is it?
Okay, ladies, it’s time to analyze your wardrobe and kick out some summer essentials. It’s tough to leave that adorable pair of flat sandals behind, but they’ll be there in spring!
Faux Pas 1: Wearing the wrong kind of tights with the wrong kind of shoes. In the past, it’s generally been considered a total no-no to wear pantyhose with open-toe shoes, which pretty much kills the attempt at making summer shoes work as winter shoes.
Generally, this is still the case, but some fashionistas are now saying it’s acceptable to wear this combo in certain circumstances. For example, wearing opaque tights looks exponentially better than nude tights, and wearing these opaque tights with peep-toe shoes or thick heels are your best bet.
But Ladies, a recent Adecco survey found that 31% of the men and women polled found open-toe shoes to be inappropriate for the workplace in summer. We’re going to bet this opinion intensifies in winter.
On top of all this, wearing pantyhose with flats or summer sandals is a fashion crime akin to wearing a beer hat to a meeting. Just FYI.
Faux Pas 2: Trying to make flat sandals work for winter. Maybe you just bought the perfect pair of sandals a week before winter arrived, and you’re mourning the lack of time you spent showing them off. It happens. Don’t let your sorrow blind you! When it’s cold, flip flops and sandals just don’t cut it anymore. They leave your skin exposed and usually give off the summer vibe. Wearing sandals with your winter outfit is just like wearing boots with a short skirt. (Don’t get us started.)
However, like every good rule, there are some exceptions. You can pull off heeled sandals with thicker straps that are made from wintery materials like leather, and you can attempt pairing them with opaque tights. This would be the only acceptable combination discussed in Faux Pas 1. This only works on a case-by-case basis, though, so take a look and use discretion. Also remember to check that open-toe shoes are acceptable in your workplace to begin with.
Faux Pas 3: Wearing white shoes, boots, or pantyhose. If you want to look like a Smurf or a Spice Girl, go for it. If not, it’s pretty difficult to pull this off. It can be done — anything is possible! — but as a general rule, avoid the tackiness of white shoe wear.
The fashion value of white pantyhose is still debated, but regardless of its acceptance rate, white tights are seldom flattering and call nurse and school girl imagery to mind. It’s just not worth it.
It’s tough to keep warm and stylish, especially in the workplace, but these faux pas can be avoided. Keep in mind that styles are always changing, as well, which increases the difficulty. For example, we wanted to create an entire Faux Pas section about never wearing Crocs (especially the hideous ones with fur lining), but we realized they’ve come out with a few lines of shoes that actually look pretty decent.
If we can’t hate Crocs unconditionally, what can we hate?