Tina Fey once said, “If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?”.

Waltz into work in pajamas and T-shirts that make profound statements like “Whatevs,” “Blllrrrrghhh!!” or “No one gets out alive anyway.” Trust me, I’ve tried it and not been labeled office ogre. 

No matter what Teen Vogue says, dressing like the Hadid sisters doesn’t really impact your street cred. Unless you suck at what you do and have no redeeming qualities like charm, nice teeth, or the work ethics of a mule. In which case, you should certainly worry about keeping up with runway trends. Nothing intimidates an office like a fashionable woman in high heels. If you don’t know what you’re doing, your best bet is to be scary. It always works. 

However, if you’d much rather spend your morning watching videos of baby otters sneezing, then stick to the basics. Close your eyes and pick the first thing that doesn’t need ironing. Add eyeliner, lip balm, and perfume. A woman who smells good, looks good. (The same can be said for men. How many times have we all fallen in love with woody cologne and mistaken it for the real thing? Admit it. No one’s judging.)

Basic dressing has one simple rule – Don’t wear what the models wear, wear what the designers do. It is a trend I call “Steve Jobs chic.” White shirt, black turtleneck, blue jeans. Here’s why sticking to the code always works:

  • It never goes out of style, unlike that cutesy peasant top that screams “I belong in Woodstock. Peace. Love. Magic brownies.”
  • You can accessorize a basic wardrobe endlessly. Couple it with a sparkly pair of sneakers or understated leather brogues or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous – a pair of safe heels, like wedges, which makes sure you don’t end the night tripping over a storm drain.

There will be those who accuse you of being a boring dresser. Choose between paying no heed, or reminding them that Obama wore the same suit in just two colors. Non-essential decisions like “what to wear” shouldn’t eat into time that can be productively used to find great bulk deals on wet wipes online, make mental lists of witty comebacks, or drink copious amounts of coffee. Ultimately, that’s what will help you stay zen when  people interrupt you in the middle of a presentation to dispense such nuggets of wisdom as – “If you show a woman driving the car in your ad, it will alienate men”, or “A dusky model will make the coffee look more authentic.” Or my personal favorite, “We need a younger mother as the face of our toothpaste. 28 is too old.” 

When that happens, you can smugly smile to yourself, give yourself a silent pat on the back and say, “Thank God I picked Mindy re-runs over dressing up for this.”

By Ahana Chaudhuri

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