Work Attire: More Casual These Days

Half of senior managers interviewed recently by staffing firm OfficeTeam said that employees wear less formal clothing than they did five years ago.

Casual Friday is taking over the rest of the week, it seems.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of office workers say they prefer to be at a company with a business casual dress code, while 27% favor a casual dress code or no dress code at all.

With those numbers in play, it’s clear to see why companies are slacking off on their dress codes: if they want to attract and retain the best people, they need to allow a more casual atmosphere.

However, casual dress at work has always been risky business. One person’s casual look is another person’s idea of an unprofessional slob.

How casual is too casual? When do you cross the line?

OfficeTeam provides guidance: “When senior managers were asked about the most common dress code violation at work, wearing overly casual clothing was the top response (47%), followed by showing too much skin (32%).”

Here are seven questions employees should ask themselves when choosing what to wear for work:

  1. Does this follow company policy? If there’s a written dress code, abide by it. Also consider what your manager and coworkers wear, and use that information to guide your choices.
  2. Am I revealing too much? If you have to ask yourself this question, the answer is likely “yes.” Avoid clothes that show too much skin, and err on the side of caution when displaying tattoos or piercings.
  3. Is this distracting? Wearing wild or bright prints can attract attention for the wrong reasons. In most workplaces, neutral colors and simple patterns, such as pinstripes, are a safe bet.
  4. Am I overdoing it? Take a subtle approach to jewelry, makeup, perfume and cologne. Also note that unconventional hair colors or styles and unkempt facial hair may be frowned upon at more conservative companies.
  5. Do I feel confident? If you’re uncomfortable in your outfit, it’ll show. Make sure your clothes fit well and don’t require a lot of readjusting.
  6. Will I offend anyone? Steer clear of wearing apparel with profanity, political statements or other questionable material.
  7. Does it pass the final check? Give yourself a once-over from head to toe. Look out for wrinkled, torn or stained garments and scuffed shoes.

You should also consider how your own personal dress code fits in with your future career plans. Remember the old adage: dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Developing a professional sense of style is an important part of “dressing for the job you want” – and standing out from the crowd.

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