Friday, August 19, 2011

Frum and Fabulous in the Office

People have asked for office-appropriate frum fashion choices. Really, frum clothing lends itself easily to the office environment. (Women's suits may be a very different story, based on the standards of your community.) 

After more than a year at my prior job, my co-workers (who were also my classmates and friends) hadn't realized that I wear skirts full-time. They also didn't notice that I am shomer negiah. Instead, they thought I was just "classy" and professional. Maybe they're just blind, but I don't think modest dress and behavior should be in-your-face. I think that would actually be immodest, not to mention the possibility of embarrassing the other person. But, as in all things, opinions and halachic rulings differ.

This applique 3/4 sleeve sweater is from Nordstrom Rack. The skirt is a plain black suit-material skirt, like you would find on any self-respecting seminary graduate. The shirt underneath the sweater is a sleeveless tan shell. It's also made from sweater-like material. I've owned it so long that I'm afraid I don't remember where it came from. 

I'm not wearing shoes in that picture, but I would recommend that shoes complete your office attire. However, I can only recommend heels of a reasonable height, which I believe is a maximum of 4 inches. Any more than that, and you are walking with tiny steps and look like you have a watermelon between your knees. No one, and I mean no one, can walk properly in high stilettos. Not to mention drawing inappropriate attention, which is what hooker heels are intended to do. In the office situation, flats or heels of 1-2 inches ("kitten heels") are both appropriate and flattering. That's your unsolicited fashion advice for the day.


  1. I believe dressing modestly in an office setting gets more challenging once you marry. Unless you want to commit to sheitel full time it can be a challenge to find office appropriate/professional head wear and an even bigger challenge to deal with coworkers who don't get it.

  2. Hmmm... in terms of being shomer negiah in the office it must be really easy to spot in one case, and very difficult in others. The one case that comes to mind - greeting handshake... This one is immediately apparent, in all other cases -we probably dont physically touch our coworkers nyways, so no noticeable difference.

  3. Originally posted: August 20, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    Anonymous, I have come to a middle ground. In my field (law), refusal to shake hands could alienate potential clients or be seen as rude and unprofessional. However, I don't offer my hand. Rather than seem rude or "inconsistent" to potential clients and co-workers, I don't offer my hand for a handshake to either men or women. But if someone offers their hand, I will shake it to avoid embarrassing the person (or alienating a client, being rude or unprofessional, etc). I rarely saw my clients often enough that warning them is something they would remember for the next time. Essentially, refusing their hand would only cause hard feelings or confusion and wouldn't prevent the same handshake in the future from most people.

    Since I only worked with women (my male boss worked in a separate office in another town), it didn't come up as an issue within the office.

    Drew, I've heard that complaint often, and it always surprises me. I guess I'm in no position to comment until I've experienced the issue myself.