I once researched working from home and read up on the pro's and con's of such an industry.
One of the con's I recognized was knowing the difference between professional and too casual. Sometimes, when you dress the part, you certainly feel the part. I definitely don't feel I am as put together in a conference call when I'm home in my yellow flannel pj's with blue snowmen and egg on my face as I would in a boardroom full of Executives.
Being in business for twelve years has taught me many things. I still look back sometimes and wonder how I survived the dog-eat-dog world of business, especially when I was in downtown Toronto. Sure, I've taken away some valuable work-related knowledge such as our 2 year ISO 9001 project to get our company of 400 employees certified (That was really fun, leading an internal auditing team at 23 years old and having no clue what I was doing. Then, finding non-conformities and telling veterans of the business for 20 years that there are issues with their processes. That went over really well!) From my days in I.T. at CGI to Pensions at Aon and supporting two female Partners at Collins Barrow accounting firm, I've absorbed a vast amount of transferable industry knowledge.
The things that stuck with me however are things you can take with you in any type of office environment. I've learned to come in early if you want a good parking spot. I've learned you may need to climb the corporate ladder in order to even qualify for that particular parking spot. I've learned that by Murphy's law, I'm always wearing white when I need to change a toner cartridge. No matter how many pot luck lunches I've attended, my dish will never rank even close to the favourite. Nobody ever asks me for my recipe for boxed cookies. I've learned that female washrooms are even grosser then male washrooms. People leave their dishes for a wife to do; even some of the women. And, no matter how you word it, there is always at least one person in the office who takes "business casual" to a whole new level. Stretchy pants and thin hole-y t-shirts do not qualify as professional, people.
I had a friend named Whitney who, at 22 years old, got an amazing job as a junior buyer for Holt Renfrew. The only problem was, she had to fork over hundreds to be able to afford the Gucci suits they were supposed to wear. Office attire doesn't have to be expensive. I bought 4 lined blazers last week for $5 a piece. These will bring you right from summer through fall.
Here are some images of some fashionable, professional and appropriate ensembles for the office. (And no, croc's do not qualify.)
* Keep in mind, if you work in a big metropolis such as NYC, Montreal or Milan, nothing is considered too risque or over-done but you may want to tone things down in a smaller town. Also keep in mind that these are strictly my opinions and I mean no offence whatsoever.