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Marc Cenedella

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Personal Branding

Dress Code Timeline: The Demise of Your Professional Style

A timeline outlining how executives dress code attire gets sloppy with time.

By Joyann King
FILED UNDER: Wardrobe.
Personal Branding Most of us begin every new job with the best intentions to dress sharp five days a week, 50 weeks a year. But alarm clocks and laundry days eventually win out, and our wardrobe weakens. 0-3 months You lay out your outfit the night before, planning ahead depending on what the day entails. Even your most uncomfortable shoes and binding (yet sharp!) pencil skirt get worn. You never loosen your tie after lunch, and your jacket is always on. Casual Fridays mean nothing to you. 3-6 months Still concerned with looking sharp, your look is still planned out and professional. But after lunch, your look tends to gets a little sloppy: tie loose, jacket on the back of the chair, heels under the desk. 3-12 months Mornings are harder, and alarms more annoying.

Since you have quit laying out your outfit the night before, you stand in your closet sleepy and usually end up wearing something quite similar to the day before. You can’t bear those tight shoes anymore, so your favorite, slightly worn, pair is the staple. You officially wear jeans for the first time on Friday, with a sport coat of course! 1-3 years You are on style autopilot. You wear a suit when you have to, but overall your dry-cleaning bill has been cut in half since you don a polo whenever possible.

You would much rather spend money on your golf or weekend wardrobe than your professional look. Even if it means looking a little dated and frumpy at the office — who cares! You fully embrace casual Friday, sometimes even starting on Thursday. 3+ years You haven’t bought new work clothes in three years, and your assistant secretly tracks your mood based on your shirt (‘cause yes, she has them all memorized ). You forgot how to tie a tie, so your wife has to buy you clip-on ties for days you are required to wear one. You wear one black sock and one blue sock on a daily basis and are campaigning for casual Monday through Fridays.

Joyann King is a New York fashion editor and stylist. She has worked in the fashion departments of glossy magazines like Glamour and Self and contributes frequently to Elle.com and Instyle.com. Formerly the fashion editor at ELLEgirl.com and a stylist for Macy’s, and JCPenney, Joyann loves helping real people find their own personal style. She can be seen in fashion videos on ELLE.com and CBSnews.com offering her unique perspective on current trends. Check out her daily style blog, Style Secrets, on SELF.com.

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