If I had my way, broken in t-shirts with super soft sweatpants would be my daily wardrobe of choice for office wear. How sweet it would be to file, field phone calls, create spreadsheets and come up with brilliant, innovative ideas, all while wearing my crazy awesome happy clothes.
Of course, that’s not going to happen because most workplaces insist on professional, or business casual attire be worn with the occasional Friday “jeans” day. Why? Professional attire speaks discipline and respect. When you carefully select your clothes, ensure they are clean and ironed, they match and are pleasing to the eye, you are showing your employer that if you take pride in how you look, you will take pride in how you work. It also speaks for the culture and climate of the office itself. If the staff is lax in both their attitudes and attire, it can scream to potential clients, board members and customers that its work is not to be taken seriously. Of course, I realize there are some work environments that are comfortable and laid back in nature and expectation but this is not the norm.
Now the question, what to wear? My rule of thumb, if you have any reservations whatsoever, don’t wear it. Save yourself the grief. If you have to grab measuring tape to check the length of your skirt or if you have to keep readjusting your blouse to prevent it from revealing something it shouldn’t, don’t wear it. If your shoes would look perfect on the beaches of Destin or your pants leave nothing to the imagination, don’t wear it.
There are many beautiful, elegant, classy and handsome outfits to be had that blend in perfectly within the office environment. There is no need to wear clothes that distract, after all, it’s our skills, knowledge and abilities that enabled us to secure the position we currently have, so why downplay those amazing features.
So what is acceptable? Dress pants, skirts to your knees or further, ironed khakis or cargo pants depending on the office. Closed-toed shoes, boots, loafers or dressy sandals that you would normally not wear with your swimsuit. Blouses that have sleeves or at least capped (not sheer) and if it happens to be sleeveless, wear a jacket or sweater over it. And when it is Friday jeans day, try not to pick out the pair with holes, two sizes too small, faded and discolored. Be sure to pair it with a polo shirt or dress shirt not a t-shirt with your favorite band or motto emblazoned across the front.
Familiarize yourself with your employee handbook or guidelines set by the Human Resources department or owner of the business. Read through what is required at your particular place of employment and don’t deviate. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to wear those shoes, model that dress or drag out those shorts or capris. Keep it classy my friends.