Yay or Nay: Bare Shoulders at Work

Kate Middleton_Rosie Huntington-Whiteley_Split - Getty - P 2016
Getty Images

Kate Middleton_Rosie Huntington-Whiteley_Split - Getty - P 2016

Pret-a-Reporter spoke with fashion and entertainment industry professionals about their thoughts on channeling the trendy style for the morning meeting.

The off-the-shoulder trend is easily the hottest look of the summer with Kendall Jenner, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Middleton, Blake Lively and many more baring their shoulders and fashion experts promoting the look's versatility for all ages and sizes. But just because Hollywood is embracing the silhouette doesn’t mean it's appropriate for the conference room.

And with the rise of companies like Snapchat and Google, whose offices are nestled on the coast in an area dubbed Silicon Beach, where there are less traditional office values (think: employer-sanctioned surf breaks) and a surge in workforce millennials who don't always adhere to traditional workplace thinking, it can be difficult to know where to draw the distinction between being on-trend and over-the-line.

Case in point? Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly got ripped by people on Twitter for wearing a tank top during a broadcast segment from the Republican National Convention on Wednesday evening.

So, we did an informal poll of entertainment professionals about their comfort level with the season's cold-shoulder style.

“As much as I love an off-the-shoulder dress or shirt, honestly, I don't think it's appropriate for the office,” says  Hillary Kerr, Who What Wear co-founder and author of The Career Code. “While ideal for the weekend, after-work drinks, or vacation, it's simply not formal enough for most workplaces,” she explains.

Kathleen Felix Hager, costume designer for HBO’s Veep, who dresses no less than President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) on the show, agrees that baring skin, even if it is on your upper arm, is probably not the way to go. “For better or worse, as women, we are scrutinized by our appearance, and you have to play the game. Less skin is more appropriate,"  she says.

Personal shopper Dana Asher Levin notes that not only can bare shoulders be distracting to co-workers, it is just an unprofessional look. "I have been working with Hollywood executives for the past 16 years and I think that image is more important than it's ever been," she says. "Executives really need to look professional at all times," Levin tells Pret-a-Reporter. (So, no.)

The Hollywood Reporter interns (between the ages of 19-21) gave mixed responses to showing off shoulder at work, but noted their hesitation mostly came from being new to the company and not full-time employees. Tori Lathan, 20, also interns at a start-up based in Venice Beach and says she wouldn't hesitate to wear an off-the-shoulder top at her other job. "Everyone who works there is stylish yet casual, but you also see a lot of denim and hoodies," explains Lathan. "So I think it depends on the kind of company you work for."

According to Kerr, "If you have to ask how to style something for the office, said piece probably doesn't belong in the office.”

Hager echoed the sentiment, dubbing the attire "weekend only." "For women in power, you can use sexuality and femininity, but you have to use it wisely,” she said.