What Not To Wear

Do you ever wonder what you should wear to work?  It is not an easy task in today’s business world.  The days of requiring men to wear suits/ties and women in skirts suits with hosiery are gone; and I expect for good.  That shouldn’t mean anything goes or that it doesn’t matter what people wear at work.  It does.  What employees wear is a direct reflection of them and it is their responsibility to look respectable.  Likewise, when an employer dictates what employees must wear (or not wear), it is a reflection of the company culture.

Casual dress at offices is now widely accepted.  It certainly seems silly for employers to impose unnecessary dress code requirements.  I ran across this post on KNOWHR and the associated comments (warning some of them are not censored).  I agree with pressing HR and management regarding unnecessary dress code requirements but I couldn’t forget the days at a former employer when we started casual Fridays (jeans).  As in every other organization I have been in, some employees pushed the limits or just ignored the dress code all together.  Some employees started wearing inappropriate clothing such as graphic tees, flip-flops and tank tops.  The environment was a customer support office so there was no excuse of getting dirty or working in extreme heat.

Some may ask “Who cares?”  I DO!  It is not professional to wear flip-flops, tank tops, tee shirts and short shorts to work.  I do not want to look at or smell your ugly, stinky feet, or read some silly joke or adult innuendo on your tee shirt and most certainly I don’t want to see any part of your butt, shoulders, breasts or stomach.

I logically understand the IT guy who is saying “Why does it matter if I wear sandals, shorts and tee shirts to work when all I do is programming?”  But the reality is that he is part of a larger community of professionals and some basic dress standards are helpful.  I did say PROFESSIONALS and while I don’t think a tie should be required, being a beach bum or a slob is not appropriate for any office environment.

So I say “YES!” to a dress code.  As an employer you will have defined your expectations and that is always good.  However, I caution you to be reasonable, focus on what is necessary to perform jobs and what is considered as main-stream decent and appropriate in the workplace.


  1. Ruth Elliott says:

    I definitely think dress codes/policies are in order in any work environment — your company is the place you work, your job, not your home nor your yard nor you in the grocery store. Of course, each company can best indicate what attire is most appropriate for its industry. While many (but certainly not all) companies fare better when there is not the strict coat & tie rules, we must remember that some structure is essential; there needs to be guidelines since we all might not agree on what is appropriate for our workplace. Secondly, our customers come to us for assistance in a number of ways, and they have more confidence in our abilities to handle their business when there is more of a professional flare to our look. Even those employees who aren’t seen by the ‘public’ conduct work with customers, although those customers might be their co-workers. Your own basic attitude about yourself and your job is definitely different when you’re wearing a nice shirt and slacks, rather than shorts and flip flops. Save the vacation wear for your time off. . .

Submit a Comment