Posted on November 20 2017
The rules of the office space used to be so clear-cut—a suit and tie were standard practice while visible tattoos, revealing clothing and open-toed shoes were strictly forbidden. While some of those rules still exist (we recommend against wearing super-scanty clothing at work), a lot of them have relaxed considerably, especially in regard to body modifications. Over 45 million Americans now have tattoos, candy-colored hair in the office is commonplace, and multiple piercings, once thought of as an extreme punk practice, proliferate in almost every sphere.
While body modifications are now common, finding a way to wear them in the workplace in a way that isn’t distracting or inappropriate can be a fine line to walk. From jewelry placement to quality to styling, how you wear a second, third, or even tenth piercing is a game of taste and tact.
When thinking about making a significant or permanent change to your appearance, it’s always a good idea to consider how your peers and coworkers might react. Making a conspicuous modification to your look could cause uncomfortable situations, but it’s always going to be totally your call. If another piercing is something that you want, you should be able to find a way to make it work no matter the environment —whether that means hiding it, toning it down, or letting it shine.
Consider Your Workplace
Is your office separated by cubicles or open concept? Do people come into work in jeans and sweaters, or in tailored suits? Do you work in food or customer service? There are so many types of work environments in today’s professional sphere, and no two are created exactly alike. If you are thinking of adding a piercing, we recommend looking around and taking cues from your coworkers. It’s likely that even if you don’t see any tattoos or extra piercings in the office that a few exist, hidden beneath long sleeves or layers of hair. In the restaurant or customer service industry, the rules become a little stricter—some restaurant managers might view extra piercings as unsanitary —but in other environments, it’s less obvious.
An extra stud or two in the ear will rarely raise an eyebrow. However, If you don’t see any body mods around the office and you’re considering a more adventurous piercing, like a hoop in your nose or a lip piercing, it never hurts to ask your manager about it first. Set a casual meeting and broach the subject with respect to how your appearance might affect the office peer environment as well as any potential client interactions. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to inquire. “An employee of mine asked me before she added a septum piercing and I really admired her for coming to me about it,” says Kelley Rowland, manager of a public relations office. “I told her that when she’s meeting with clients it might be better for her to flip it up, but I have no problem with her expressing herself in the workplace.”
Keep It Luxe
In order to keep your extra piercing looking as professional as possible, stay away from cheap costume jewelry without exception. Not only does cheap jewelry look unprofessional and juvenile, but the cheap materials they are made of can also cause painful infections and closed piercings if left unattended.
When you wear high-quality jewelry crafted from precious metals, no one will accuse you of looking like a teenager. Coordinating a set of gold and gemstone studs gives your look more texture and interest, but it also shows your great taste in jewelry and attention to quality. The non-reactive properties of gold, sterling silver, and platinum will keep your piercing healthy—and there’s nothing that shows maturity and decorum like proper self-care.
The truth is that in most workplaces you can get away with an extra piercing or two, but making it work is all about the execution. While adding a stud on your earlobe or a small hoop on your cartilage is no big deal, an explosion of flashy jewelry all over your ears is too distracting and ostentatious for everyday work garb. When you’re at the office, stick to small, simple gems that still express your personality and leave the bold stuff for your after-hours life.
Many women like to keep a consistent set of small, distinctive studs in their extra piercings for a signature look, while they rotate other earrings through their main lobe piercing for variety. “My small cartilage studs are like a part of my body now,” says Whitney Bauck, an intern in a startup office, gesturing to a delicate assortment of sterling silver studs in the shape of a moon, star, and small diamond lining the shell of her left ear. “I like to wear hoops in the main piercings, but I change it up a lot.” On her off days, Whitney likes to sport dangling chandeliers, but at work, she keeps it discreet.
Enjoy the Trends
Being a working professional shouldn’t mean that you have to miss out on the fashion trends of the season. Choosing which ones are comfortable for you in the office is a completely personal process—if it feels like too much, stick to your gut, but otherwise feel free to experiment.
If you’re still hesitant to try the multiple earring trend, try a temporary alternative first. A subtly sparkling ear crawler or cuff is a zero-commitment option that lets you try the appearance of multiple earrings without taking the plunge. They also provide a fashion-forward look that will garner you compliment after compliment. Wear a cuff on just one ear and keep the other side simple with a small stud to tone down the drama for daytime.
With our selection of earrings, ranging from dramatic to downplayed, you’ll cultivate a professional jewelry look that will make waves in the office.