Long gone are the days of employees exclusively wearing suits and pencil skirts to work, and good riddance! As businesses develop office cultures that are more casual, their dress codes have begun to echo that. Employees can more easily express their personality in the workplace through their wardrobes.
While my somewhat professional opinion (as Associate Manager, People Operations at Kargo) is that expressing yourself not a bad thing, it certainly is presenting a condition that employees must work through. It’s hard to know what “work appropriate” means in a casual environment. For example, my company’s dress code is “start-up chic”, and quite frankly, who even knows what that means?
Below are a few good rules of thumb that I use to make sure I am not overstepping any sartorial boundaries:
- If you have to ask if it’s appropriate, it’s probably not, so take it off and change. I am a huge believer in this. If there is even a doubt in your mind that something might not be work appropriate, err on the side of caution and don’t wear it!
- Casual doesn’t mean show all of your skin. Mini skirts and dresses are in, and trust me, I love showing off my legs as much as the next woman! Find that balance between showing off your sexy legs and not showing off that booty. I can’t tell you how many butt cheeks I’ve seen in the office. Trust me: you do not want to be that person – and HR doesn’t want to have to talk to you about it.
- Keep up with trends to find out what is deemed “work appropriate”. Every now and then, I’ll go to Loft or AnnTaylor to see what’s on the racks. (As of today, those cute work shorts, or even off the shoulder shirts are okay, says the “work section” on anntaylor.com)
My last piece of advice is to think about who you want to be at work. Every employee has a “brand” and our outfit choice is one vehicle to communicate it. Stay true to yourself and stay true to your brand. Your professionalism will be exhibited both in your work and in your appearance.
Maddie Spero is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where she received her BA in Industrial Psychology. If ever you’re looking, Maddie can be found drinking an iced coffee and taking a copious amount of photos of her dog.