I just started a summer internship, so dressing for the office has been my big hang-up for the last few weeks. When you dress modestly, it can be hard to maintain the appropriate-yet-trendy style that is business casual. When you’re worried about your hem length/neckline/sleeves, shopping gets complicated; you can’t just grab something cute and flattering off the first rack you see. Add in the fact that I only had a phone interview, so no one at my new workplace was expecting a pregnant religious chick to walk in the door, and you can imagine why I spent so long putting together an outfit for my first day! I really wanted to fit in as well as I could, while maintaining my personal standards of modesty.
The trick to office-appropriate accessorizing is not to let the bling overwhelm. Pick one funky/bright/distinctive item and keep everything else fairly simple. Don’t wear a sparkly scarf AND a few thick bangles AND a huge flower in your hair. One of those alone will be a lot more meaningful without making you look like a preschooler created your look from her dress-up box.
I’m working in Manhattan, and correctly presumed that most of my coworkers would be at least somewhat hipster-ish in dress. Since I wanted to look as with-it as I could manage, I brought on the scarves. High necklines can make an outfit look dowdy, but adding a scarf (bless my tichel collection for doing double duty!) or one of my few chunky necklaces goes a long way towards spiffing things up. Since I tend to buy most of my clothing in solid colors, I like the pop and variety of something fun around the neck; it also minimizes the fact that I’m wearing a layering shell for modesty reasons. Another day I brought out this amazing pearl bangle that my sister got me as a gift, but I’ve rarely worn; it was the perfect addition to an otherwise fairly subdued outfit.
If you’re accustomed to wearing a black skirt and a plain top to work every day, it can be hard to get comfortable with accessories. But if you take it slow, and only add one item to each outfit, it’ll eventually feel natural – and you’ll start thinking that you look incomplete without some little extra! You may not worry about how you look relative to your coworkers, but if you’re as hung up on fitting in as I am, consider working up the nerve to try wearing these to the office next week:
- Start out slow by wrapping this cute black and white polka dot belt over a black pencil skirt and a black or white top.
- Next time, make your usual ponytail just a little more exciting with an elegant flower.
- Follow up with a luxurious silky headband. Hint: this untied style works well over wigs, or to highlight a plain tichel/hijab!
- Keep the vibe going by pulling a floral tichel with lurex stripes out of your drawer – and wearing it around your neck instead. See this post for some cool ideas on how to tie it!
- Bring it all home on day 5 with a red alligator belt! You are now an office accessorizing superstar!