Can I wear this to the office?

There’s plenty of readily accessible information guiding appropriate attire for job interviews, and most people have a good handle on that. But what about day-to-day at the office? And the tricky casual Fridays? What constitutes daily professional attire versus business casual?

Many offices have a business casual guideline for Fridays or daily, but how casual is too casual?

Whether you’ve been working in an office for years or you’re new to it, its 2017 and things have changed, including the vibe at the office and the composition of the workforce. Society is increasingly more casual and workplaces are no exception.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015 Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce at 53.5 percent, followed by Gen Xers at 52.7 percent, Baby Boomers at 44.6 percent and Silents at 3.7 percent. Millennials are known to dress more casually, so you can see how this influences workplace dress codes.
I work with and coach quite a few female Millennials and am repeatedly asked for business wardrobe advice.

If you aspire to be in a leadership role, or regularly meet with clients, consumers or board members, the way you dress may matter. How far you can push the limits depends on your company’s culture.

Tips for dressing appropriately

  • Check your company’s official dress code, usually found in the employee handbook, or ask your HR manager
  • Take a look at supervisors and middle managers for cues
  • Avoid hemlines shorter than four inches above the knee (unless your legs are very long)
  • Leave the cleavage baring for date night
  • Avoid noisy jewelry
  • Avoid sheer, revealing tops
  • Tone down perfume and cologne
  • Know what works for your body type
  • No rips or holes in the office
  • Be clean, well-groomed and neat

Dressing appropriately doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or feel uncomfortable, conservative or old! You can still have some fun:

  • Wear colors you love
  • Bring out your creativity and personality
  • Mix and match styles and patterns
  • Develop a signature style
  • Wear it with confidence

Finally, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this right for my work environment?
  • How do I need to move to function in my job?
  • Is what I am wearing a distraction?

If you answered “yes” then you might be too casual or dare I say … inappropriate. Sorry ladies; it still matters. Whatever you decide to wear, make sure it’s appropriate, comfortable, pulled together, and fits your style. Most importantly, be confident and do great work.

Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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