Putting your best foot forward when it comes to what you wear to work can have a huge impact on your career. A 2018 research study by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that 80% of managers said that they believe that what you wear to work can impact your chances of getting a promotion.
Another study in the Journal of Human Performance found that people who are more physically attractive are treated better at work. Looking older than you are (and possibly less attractive because of it) can distract potential employers and superiors from seeing the youthful exuberance behind your work ethic.
Fashion trends may come and go, but the clothes you wear to work shouldn’t make you look older than you are. You can dress fashionably at work and avoid dating yourself by passing on the 10 items below.
1. Completely black attire
Black may feel like a safe color to wear to work, but when you dress in the dark hue head-to-toe, Marie Claire reported the color can make you look “ill, washed out and considerably older” especially when worn near the face.
You can still wear black, but opt for pops of color to balance out its aging abilities. Wearing shades of red-violet can provide a youthful appearance — especially for women over 40. If the trends of 2020 fashion week are any indicator, you will see successful people in the office wearing pops of red, green, and saffron yellow in order to emote confidence, growth, and
2. Oversized blazers
Trendy blazers can be a fashionable way to flaunt fashion in the office, but an ill-fitting blazer can date your style and make you look older. Even though oversized power suits can be fashion-forward, if it’s too baggy, it can add unwarranted years to your age. New York Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2020 provided several updated blazers to freshen up your work wardrobe with less dated looks, including professional designs from PH5. Founder Wei Lin told Vogue.com the brand wanted to create women’s workwear pieces that “didn’t feel old.”
The oversized blazer trend may not be as popular with men, but wearing a baggy blazer can leave a man looking disheveled and older than they actually are. To create a more polished look, men can opt for tailored jackets that accentuate their frame.
3. Un-tailored suits
Speaking of tailored jackets, a well-fitted suit can do wonders for any person’s work attire. Regardless of how much your suit costs, to begin with, going the extra mile and having the suit tailored to fit your exact frame can shave years off of your look.
According to Real Men Real Style, “extreme tightness or looseness shouldn’t be felt since these bring down your confidence.” In addition to not looking older than you are, confidence is an absolute necessity in the workplace.
4. Skirts too long
The skirt is a mainstay of business attire for women, but if your skirt is too long, it can make you look even older than you actually are. Inside Out Style reported that while a midi-length skirt can look ladylike when worn with heels, it can age older women unnecessarily. Going longer than a midi skirt? That’s a definite don’t for business attire.
If you still want to wear a skirt, aim for a knee-length pencil style. There are also ways to rock a miniskirt in your office over the summer if you find the right skirt and pair it with a tailored blazer or collared shirt tucked in.
5. Baggy jeans
Wearing jeans is a reality for many professionals today. A One Poll survey pointed out that only one in five office environments actually still upholds a formal dress code. For one-third of workers in a Ranstad USA survey, they would rather have a casual dress code (like one that allows jeans) than an extra $5000 per year.)
If your office allows a more laid back look — or even if they just have casual Fridays— jeans may be your go-to pant. However, if your jeans hang off of your figure, leaving them too loose, it can make you look older than you are. Not to mention, you will appear less professional overall.
6. Jersey fabrics
Jersey material clings to the body and accentuates areas that you might not want to be highlighted in an unflattering way, making you appear older. Instead, opt for stiffer fabrics that hold their shape instead of conforming to yours.
If you just can’t live without the breathability and flexibility of jersey fabric, Oprah.com recommended the denser double-knit jersey in a tailored, structured shape like a sheath dress for the most flattering look.
7. Retro pieces without a modern twist
Wearing a vintage scarf around your neck may feel like a throwback to your favorite point in fashion history — and it can look great at work when done correctly. However, when retro styles are worn without contemporary pieces to round out the look, StyleCasterhttps://www.whowhatwear.com/most-aging-shoe-styles/slide2 warned that you can appear dated.
Head-to-toe vintage is also an office don’t. You want to flaunt your ability to mix current and classic styles by pairing the old with the new, lest you lead co-workers to believe you’re stuck in the past, or 10 years older than you actually are.
8. Wire-rimmed eyeglasses
The importance of eye contact in the workplace cannot be overstated. It can help establish rapport with others and make you appear more likable, according to a Harvard psychiatrist. In general, store-bought readers with thin, metal frames (like you typically see resting on the end of a person’s nose) can date your look.
Instead, choose eyeglass frames that are bold and modern in shape and material. Verywell
Health reported that berry and jewel tones are flattering eyeglass frame choices for women, while men should opt for blues, burgundies, and greens.
9. Outdated shoes
Round-toed heels can look “frumpy” and age women in the workplace, according to Who What Wear. The site also noted that the time to wear peep-toe heels on the job has passed and to avoid this look in order to avoid a dated look.
Men should also be careful to avoid shoes that make them look older. Square-toed shoes are back in style for men — well, almost. Pair them carefully with a straight-leg trouser or jeans to avoid looking too dated.
10. Sweater sets
Wearing a sweater set can significantly age a woman over 20, according to Harper’s Bazaar. They might seem sensible, but in reality, the combo of a cardigan over a matching shell just screams little old lady, even when you don’t mean for it to. Find your youthfulness again by opting instead for a longer, trendy cardigan belted at the waist.
When done well, cardigans can be an office do for men, too. For men, you’ll want to stick with a fitted, button-up cardigan paired with slacks and a button-down shirt with dress shoes in a neutral color palette per The Trend Spotter to look smart, yet avoid looking dated.