When you head into a boardroom presentation or an interview for a new corporate job, there is often an expectation of how you should dress and look. Your image can affect your job opportunities, and although this is an incredibly outdated way of thinking and rigid policies need to be done away with, there are still certain hairstyles that are deemed unprofessional. If you have long hair, love cuts that require a lot of volume, and prefer bright and bold colors, these are often against the rules of office grooming. Some styles are thought of as rebellious, like mohawks and mullets, and fashion-forward cuts can be frowned upon. If you work in a creative industry or one that is more open-minded, that is fantastic news. Still, regardless of your experience and qualifications, these hairstyles may not be office-approved.
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1. Asymmetrical Hairstyle
An asymmetrical hairstyle can make a statement, and it is definitely a way to express your fun side. It can flatter the face, balance the features, and gives you an added dimension to your appearance. That said, when it comes to looks that are approved for the office, this may not be among them. The reason for this is that corporate environments usually have very traditional views on what grooming should look like, and while some workplaces are more flexible, most corporate etiquette requires a short hairstyle.
2. Bleached Hairstyle
There is a time and place for a bleached hairstyle, but the office is not it. If you want a look for summer, to have fun reinventing yourself, or feel like making a dramatic statement, then this is it. However, the unnatural color may be frowned upon in a corporate environment. All-over platinum white dye or bright highlights with dark roots showing will turn heads, sure, but many jobs are likely to view this like a big no when it comes to maintaining a professional image.
Cornrows have cultural importance and are a way to express yourself and honor your heritage. They are one of the most iconic braids and are incredibly versatile. Designed initially for Afro-textured hair, those with caucasian hair have also embraced the braids, although whether they should have is another discussion. But, should you be able to wear them in the workplace? Absolutely, however, there is still discrimination in more conservative environments, and they can be considered unprofessional and inappropriate.
4. Hair Design
Hair design is a way to have fun with your appearance. Thanks to the skill of barbers, you can choose from simple details to intricate patterns. This is fantastic if you want to show your personality. The great thing about this option is there is something for everyone, from statement fade cuts to interesting lineups. It can be created on various hair textures and types and is very expressive. So, why is it considered unprofessional? Well, that largely depends on the industry you are working in, but most employers want men to have short, neat hair that adheres to certain mainstream ideals.
5. Long Messy Hair
Long messy hair is cool and carefree, it challenges gender norms, and it has the appearance of a rock god. That said, if you’re not a musician, then this fantastic style is seen as unprofessional. It is far better to wear it in a man bun or style it so that the hair is away from your face. The beauty of hair with considerable length is that it is very adaptable, so you’ll have no problem finding an office-approved alternative; it is just not this.
6. Man Braids
Braiding is more than just a hairstyle for many people, as it can have cultural importance and can be a way to honor your ancestral heritage. Man braids can cover a wide range of different braids, from cornrows to box braids or dreadlocks. There are many ways to wear braids, and you can tailor them to suit your personality and style. That said, braids are still seen as being inappropriate in the workplace, which is a greater comment on society. Natural hair should not be seen as unprofessional, and it is time we challenge this outdated way of thinking.
What better way to express your inner punk than with a mohawk? It’s edgy and cool and a firm favorite among musicians and artists. That is because the style lets you have fun; it is rebellious and bold. If you are heading to the studio instead of the office, this is the look for you. Otherwise, the mohawk is often considered unprofessional and too dramatic to be worn in the workplace. This is a look that is bound to get you noticed, so if you’re working a corporate or customer services job, it may be frowned upon. Should you rock a mohawk anyway? Well, you do you!
The mullet is not for everyone. It is surprisingly hard to pull off and not particularly flattering. It’s all business in the front and party in the back, but your potential clients may not be as into this 90s hairstyle as you are. It has a very laid-back vibe and is often worn by those who want a fuss-free and low-maintenance look. It is also bound to get you noticed, and not always for the right reasons. If you don’t mind the attention and can wear the mullet with confidence, the only thing stopping you is an inflexible company grooming code.
If you want a look that takes you back in time, the shag hairstyle is it. It has a very 70s appearance and was incredibly popular during this decade. The shag is an expressive cut; it is edgy and rebellious and is excellent for the man who wants something different. It allows you to play around with length, and it can be created on various hair textures and types. That said, it has a somewhat unkempt and messy feel which is not what you want if you’re job hunting for a corporate position.
The skullet is halfway between a mullet and a clean-shaven skull, hence the name, which combines these two words. It’s great to show off a head tattoo if you don’t mind people staring at you and if you have an alternative lifestyle, but it won’t suit everyone. It is not a look you will see every day, and that is because it takes some serious confidence to pull off. It is also not a mainstream style and has a rebellious element to it. Don’t wear this look to work unless your place of employment is extremely progressive.
11. Swooping Fringe
If you have a job that prefers you maintain a specific dress code and adhere to grooming rules, then a swooping fringe is not the look for you. It is a good option for someone who wants to keep their length and doesn’t mind the maintenance that comes with it. It can also frame the face, thanks to the angles, and suit several hair textures and types. That said, the length means your fringe will be in your eyes, which can be annoying or dangerous, depending on the sector you work in.
12. Top Knot
The top knot is an excellent choice for fashion editorials, runways, and events, but it may be a style that comes with some judgment in the workplace. It is a look that has enjoyed a lot of popularity in recent years, and it is a firm favorite for those who want a simple yet fun way to keep their hair out of their eyes. A good alternative for a more professional appearance is a man bun if you have long or medium-length hair.
13. Wet Hairstyle
Is there something wrong with looking like you have just stepped out of the shower? The wet hairstyle look has been a firm favorite on the red carpets and fashion show events, and there’s a lot to love about it. It is trendy and easy to pull off, and you don’t need heat to style it. That said, any hairstyles that are in your eyes or use too many products are often not considered part of the mainstream corporate workforce’s vision of what is professional. So, dry your hair, leave the product, and keep it out of your eyes.
14. Backcombed Long Straight Hair
When determining whether a look is professional or not, it largely depends on the industry you work in because backcombed, long straight hair is very fashion-forward. Would it be at home on wall street or be worn by bankers and investors? Maybe not, but this style is all about making a statement, expressing yourself, and turning heads. To appreciate it in its full glory, you need to be able to wear loud and embellished clothing and spend a fair bit of time styling it. The result is impressive, even if it’s not workplace approved.
15. Bleached Spiky Hairstyle
Bleached spiky hair is not something that everyone can pull off, and it is not considered professional for two reasons; any colored hair that looks unnatural is often frowned upon, and spikes are not neat. The spiky style is very 90s but is still around today because it is incredibly versatile, suiting most hair textures and various lengths. If you want a look that is filled with attitude, this is it but not for the corporate workplace.
16. Half Up Half Down High Ponytail
Freedom of expression is great until you get into the workplace. Corporate etiquette often requires you to look a certain way, including the way you dress and groom, and the half up half down high ponytail doesn’t fit into that mold. Professional codes usually require you to look clean and polished, but that doesn’t mean you need to chop off all of your hair. There are many more laidback and less dramatic options to choose from, including a man bun. The good news is, you can rock this look outside of business hours.
17. Side Swept Backcombed Waves
Big hair makes a big statement, and side-swept backcombed waves definitely do that. Although they’re not exactly office approved, there is a reason men like this style. It is all about creating volume, and the parting can help draw attention to your face. This look has a very 80s vibe about it, and it’s great for someone who doesn’t mind a bit of maintenance and has the time for the required styling. It’s also going to cost you a lot of money in hair products.
18. Bowl Cut
Many jobs want you to look neat, clean, have no visible body art, and have very basic hairstyles. This means that a long bowl cut will probably not be among these, and it is often not seen as professional. In part, this is because the hair is in your face, which can be problematic when dealing with customers and can impair your vision when you have to complete tasks. This cut looks edgy and fashion-forward and can also flatter different face shapes and give you a more angular-looking face. That said, it is incredibly difficult to maintain and requires a lot of styling.
19. Curly Faux Hawk
A faux hawk is not quite as dramatic as a mohawk and is often trendy and edgy. Depending on how exaggerated it is, it is a look that could be appropriate in an office. That said, a curly faux hawk that is long and voluminous is not the most practical of options. Your hair may fall in your eyes, it can be distracting, and it is also likely going to be frowned upon if you are spending large amounts of time trying to readjust it throughout the day. If you love hair with a bit of length, brush it back, keep it neat, and rock this hairdo in your free time.
20. Two Side Braids
Braided hair can be done on long and short hair, and there are so many different variations, each with its significance. The two side braids look incredibly stylish and can frame your face. It is a fantastic way to add texture to thin hair and can keep your locks out of your face. There is a lot to love about this style, but unfortunately, not everyone feels that way about it; many inflexible company grooming codes do not care about the importance of your hair or how stylish it is, they want a particular look, and this one may not fit into that mold.
What hairstyles are not professional?
Many hairstyles are not considered professional. This could be because they are styled in a messy way, brightly colored, or because the style is seen as rebellious and not conforming. These include mohawks, mullets, long bowl cuts, and spiky bleached hair. Unfortunately, styles with cultural and ancestral importance, like dreadlocks and braids, are also not seen as being appropriate for corporate jobs with rigid policies.
What hairstyle is most professional?
For men, hairstyles seen as professional are often short, neat cuts that keep the eyes out of the face. There are no unnatural colors, and the overall appearance is conservative and suited to the industry you work in. A few examples would be the classic side part, which is low-maintenance and easy to wear, the slick back, which has an old-school feel to it, and the simple and masculine buzz cut.
Is a fade haircut unprofessional?
Determining whether a fade haircut is unprofessional depends on how dramatic it is. A skin fade, for example, would be inappropriate for many corporate jobs, but those that are more subtle may not be a problem. Consider the sector you work in, read the grooming code, and how far up you are on the corporate ladder. Someone who has established themselves is often given a little more freedom.
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