What Not to Wear to Work

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Many professional women are guilty of multiple fashion faux pas without realizing it, and their lack of judgment can sometimes lead to being passed over for a job or promotion.

Dressing for success means business, not pleasure. Read on for our must-avoids.

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Too much cleavage
Showing too much cleavage at work is the No. 1 fashion faux pas on our list. Studies show that women who dress in sexy attire in a professional environment are more often passed over for promotions than women who dress more conservatively. Bottom line: If you want to get ahead, ditch the low-cut top.

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Too-short skirt
Wearing a micro-mini may send the message that you're trying to compensate for skills you lack in other areas. Also, the knee is a visual anchor, says Barbara Pachter, an etiquette expert. People's attention will be drawn downward when they approach you, instead of toward your face where it should be. Save your minis for after office hours and, while it doesn't need to be knee length, put on a skirt that you can sit down in without showing too much thigh.

See-through clothes
Summer materials such as organza and liquid jersey look and feel cool and pretty, but in the light of a staff meeting, they can reveal the outlines of your legs — and much more. The best solution is to check out your ensemble in a bright, naturally lit room before leaving for work. Always wear transparent blouses over camis or under jackets; transparent dresses and skirts should be layered over a slip or leggings. Ginger Burr of Total Image Consultants notes that buying clothes with lining — especially white pants and skirts — is always a safe choice.

Over-accessorizing
A rule of thumb when it comes to accessories in the workplace: Less is more. Costume jewelry, when worn in bulk, tends to look tacky. The real thing, on the other hand, can come off as gaudy. A boardroom-ready look includes one show stopper plus subtle accessories. That means if you're going to put on a chunky beaded necklace, stick to minimal earrings and arm candy.

Bringing the beach into the office
Sundresses, spaghetti straps, flip-flops. Nothing makes you look less professional than coming to the office like you're dressed for the beach. Having a cover-up like a pashmina, neutral blazer or cardigan on hand will always make an outfit look more professional. Truth be told, however, these summer staples are best avoided at the office. Trade your tank top for a silk shell and Havaianas for backless mules.

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