How to Dress for Work When you’re Anti-Khakis

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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What to wear! What to wear!



I’m just going to say it. I’m morally opposed to khakis. They really bum me out. And so I elect not to wear them. However, this presents the young, budding corporate lass that I am with a problem: what ever shall I wear to work? I don’t want to forsake my corduroy flares and Edwardian skirts when I enter the cubicle farm– I like to believe my closet and I can embark on this professional adventure together without too many growing pains. So, let’s get dressed for work à la business casual and let's do it without knee socks. 



1. The First Day of Work Outfit 

The first day of work is really all about taking the temperature of the office, and so on day one I like to wear all black. It allows me to go incognito and observe. The whole dress like a spy thing makes me feel a) cool b) emboldened and c) ready to take in my surroundings with a dramatic flair. Alas, dressing in all black on day one is sort of just uncontroversial, easy, and is a good place to start when trying to get a feel for things both professional and re fashion.



2. The Don’t Let Your Favorite Items Wallow in Your Closet Outfit

If you are like me then you may have a piece of clothing you prize above all others. For me this item is a pink maxi skirt from the 1910s. I get antsy about wearing it past my front door because it's just so special that no occasion or day could possibly merit its resplendent beauty. I’ve been trying to get over that this summer: wear your prized possessions to work! There’s no time like the present. Wear your fancy dresses, skirts, blouses, and pants to your heart’s content and then really dramatically and quite unnecessarily hold your skirt up like a princess when you ascend the Wall Street Subway Station staircase (ok maybe don’t do this part?). 



3. The Corduroy Pants Reign Supreme Outfit 

In my humble and very non-expert opinion, every work wardrobe needs a pair of corduroy pants. They are linen pants’ wintertime brethren. They are an item with the potential for individualization in cut and color and they add a bit of retro flair to every outfit. Dressier than jeans, but comfier than slacks, a good pair of cords may just make you feel the Very Cool manager of a 1970s rock band. 



4. The “I actually work at Sterling Draper Pryce” Outfit 

Welcome to the section of this post that I like to call shopping for work in the closet of a 1960s dame. In the late hours of the evening I often find myself making ill-advised purchases on eBay, but the purchases I never regret are 1960s mod dresses. These dresses are great for work and make me feel like Peggy from Mad Men. They are also just really fun pieces endowed with an interesting story. Makes for good water cooler talk. (Also, I’m 5'9 so these mod dresses can end up being quite mini– use your best judgment when it comes to appropriate hemlines at work.)  



5. The Let’s Make a Deal Outfit 

This is the outfit I bring out when there is serious business to be taken care of. Take note of the muted tones and collared shirt. This outfit is not what I would describe as “fun,” but it is what I would describe as “casually business serious.” (A more, ahem, serious take on business casual. Also, a term of my own creation that has yet to catch on.)



6. The so Many Different Utilities Outfit 

Utility pants are another good work wardrobe staple. They become particularly helpful when angling to transition your work outfits into post-work activities. With a superfluous amount of pockets, utility pants are good for trout fishing, coffee dates, and taking an elevator without a purse. Additionally, the shoes for this outfit, my trusty espadrilles, originated from communities around the Pyrenees mountains and they really give the word “utility” new meaning. They are a solid and delightful pair of shoes good for climbing mountains or sitting at your computer. 


Alas, we have exhausted my closet and my styling sensibilities. Allow me to leave you with this: work outfits can be fun! Wear your favorite items and work with what you have to create a work wardrobe that is not your real life wardrobe’s boring and uncomfortable little sister. 


Kate Unrath
Georgetown University

Kate Unrath is a junior at Georgetown University majoring in American Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. As such, she considers any time with the Transcendentalists to be time well spent. Kate can be found taking long walks without a destination in mind or agonizing over whether the shade of black on her sweater matches that of her pants.