16 things you should never wear to work -- even if you work in a business casual environment

  • What to wear to work is a daily struggle for many. Luckily, you can cross off these 16 cringeworthy pieces off your list.
  • Just because you work in a casual office environment, it doesn’t mean you can get away with just any outfit.
  • Clothes that are dirty, wrinkled, or too provocative should never see the inside of an office.

Business casual, classic casual, smart casual – the rules surrounding what to wear to work are constantly changing, and it’s hard to keep up.

But there are a few things you can rule out.

Keep in mind this doesn’t apply to every industry or workplace. It’s a general guide that will hopefully put you on the right track to professional outfits that will still let you express yourself.

“The most important thing is to make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and that you’re putting your best foot forward at work,”Betsy Aimee, a digital content producer who writes on workplace fashion and entrepreneurship, told Business Insider.

Read on to find out the 16 types of clothes you should never wear to work:

Anything see-through

Wear a camisole or undershirt.

Yoga pants and leggings


Aimee said this is one of the most contentious points between younger and older employees – are leggings or yoga pants ok?

Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are likely to say no, while millennials might argue that they’re ok.

Generally, you should follow what your bosses are wearing to work. If they’re not sporting leggings on a regular basis, you certainly shouldn’t either.

“Wear what you’d like, but be mindful that people are forming an opinion of you,” Aimee said.

Anything that’s too tight, too short, or too baggy

You are not a rapper from the mid-2000s. Don’t wear super baggy clothing.

And tight clothes are also a major no.

Cold-shoulder tops

Yes, they’re trendy, but they’re not appropriate for the office. Keep them for your weekend brunches or bar-hopping.

Anything that shows off your back, cleavage, or tummy

Your torso needs to be covered in the workplace.

“What are you drawing attention to – your competency or your body?” Aimee said.

Visible undergarments


“Neither gender should show underwear, but they should wear underwear!” Aimee said.

A lot of animal print

You probably do not want to be known as the person who owns cheetah-print pants.


Your employer might be hesitant to keep you on the payroll if it looks like you’re about to take a nap.



There are some high-fashion Crocs being produced… but no. Just no.

Anything you would wear to the gym

Stefano Ember/Shutterstock

Workout clothes don’t belong in even the most lowkey workplaces.

Anything you bought for clubbing or bar-hopping

Rafi Letzter/Tech Insider

You can experiment with converting these pieces into daywear by throwing on a blazer, cardigan, scarf, or jacket.

Otherwise, save them for the weekend.

Clothes that are stained

Business Insider

It’s time to donate or trash them.

Light-wash or ripped jeans


If you work in a truly casual outfit where your manager is sporting light-wash or ripped jeans, go ahead and sport them too.

But typical business casual offices draw the line at dark-wash denim. Look around your workplace before you wear them tomorrow morning.

Muscle tees

EA Sports

Congrats on all your bench presses and bicep curls. But, your coworkers don’t need to see your guns.

There’s a caveat here: plenty of stylish, professional sleeveless tees are around for women. But men should keep their upper arms clothed at work.

T-shirts that you bought in a beach resort gift store in 2005

Especially if they’re racist, sexist, or anything else that’s deeply problematic. Actually, just throw them out.

Anything that’s emblazoned in sequins or sparkles


Keep it to your Met Ball look or prom dress.

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