The Apprentice star and sharp-suited columnist Karren Brady on office outfits that give right impression

RETURNING to work this week is a chore.

But it could be made a whole lot worse if you were reprimanded for your outfit.

 Businesswoman Karren Brady shares her views on appropriate workplace attire

Rex Features

Businesswoman Karren Brady shares her views on appropriate workplace attire

According to a recent poll by the jobs board Totaljobs, one in ten women have been sent home from work for wearing “inappropriate” clothing.

Crop tops, low necklines and mini skirts are some of the worst offenders, and 28 per cent of female employees have been subjected to unwanted comments on their appearance.

So just what is deemed “appropriate” office clobber?

Here, Sun on Sunday columnist and The Apprentice star Karren Brady casts her eye over some common workwear combos and assesses whether they would cut the mustard in her office.

Karren Brady says being a working mum had nothing to do with the The Apprentice firings

Look One

Stewart Williams

White shirt, £49, Biba at House of Fraser; checked skirt, £45, River Island; shoes, £31.20, Faith at Debenhams

Karren says: “This is a look for women of a certain age, but I love it. It might be easier to wear with a pair of tights, but my daughter wears outfits similar to this in her job and looks great.

“It should not be a problem unless you’re a dirty old letch!”

Look Two

Stewart Williams

Halterneck jumpsuit, £9.99, Bershka; shoes, £27.30, Faith at Debenhams

Karren says: “This would be quite smart for the summer, and you can add a jacket for the winter.

“It might not be right if you were working in a church! But nothing about this offends me.”

Look Three: You’re hired

Stewart Williams

Checked blazer, £50, River Island; cream shirt, £39.50, Marks and Spencer; jeans, £25.99, New Look; shoes, £40, Dune

Karren says: “This is really nice and simple. I wore something like this throughout most of my twenties and thirties. I probably wouldn’t wear it if I was doing a big presentation that day, but I think it’s acceptable in an everyday working environment.

“I wear something similar myself. The smart shoes and fitted jacket make it smart casual. I think it’s my favourite.”

Look Four: You’re fired

Stewart Williams

Plunging wrap bodysuit, £19.99, New Look; black trousers, £22, Next; shoes, £48, Next

Karren says: “I look at this and think she must be really uncomfortable. There’s no denying she looks great, but it’s not a practical top, I can’t help but think the wrong move would mean she could inadvertently pop out.

“It might be one to add a safety pin for the day and then take the pin off at night.”

Look Five

Stewart Williams

V-neck top, £25, Miss Selfridge; midi skirt, £32.50, Marks and Spencershoes, £45, Dorothy Perkins

Karren says: “This is a sensible outfit that would work for any office. It uses neutral colours, is elegant and comfortable. It’s a safe, grown-up look that would not cause any offence.”

Look Six

Stewart Williams

Yellow crop top, £17.99, New Look; trousers, £32, Next; shoes, £30, V by Very

Karren says: “This does look like she’s going to the beach, it doesn’t seem suitable for an office.

“Although if I had a flat stomach like that, then I can understand wanting to show it off. It’s not my favourite for a smart environment, though.”


Karren Brady says: “I think there’s something very controlling in men telling women what to wear.

“You should wear what you feel comfortable in.

 Wear what you feel is comfortable, but respect your workplace environment, says Karren Brady

Rex Features

Wear what you feel is comfortable, but respect your workplace environment, says Karren Brady

“But I do think  you should respect the environment you’re in. For example, in a creative environment you can get away with clothes that might not be suitable in a more formal banking situation.

“It is all about taking a common sense approach.

“Being a woman, clothes don’t bother me. I look for someone who is enthusiastic, determined and has done their research. What they are wearing is irrelevant to me.

“I would say that certain looks, like the crop top here, would make me wonder if they took themselves seriously.

“It’s important to remember that an interviewer sees the clothes before they see you, they speak volumes.

“I would suggest that if you’re going to an interview, it’s best to play it safe.

“Go for something neutral that won’t cause any offence to prove that you are perfect for the job.”


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