These days, ‘office dress’ has become remarkably ambiguous. Techy hipsters in Silicon Valley have promoted the idea that sandals and Bermuda shorts are not necessarily inappropriate wear for the office. The message has been well received since companies like Google and Facebook have backed up their approach to relaxed office-dress with world-storming success. The idea put forward by this new generation of companies is that of employees are happy and comfortable they will be able to work to a better standard.
There is undoubtedly truth to the claim that, when we are wearing clothes that we believe make us look our best, we are in a better mood, more receptive to others, and they in turn are more receptive to us. Perfect for an office environment, no?
As with everything in life, things must be taken in moderation and office workers must balance out feeling comfortable in their clothes with ensuring that they project a committed business-like appearance. Here are some tips to help you pick out the outfits for work that both make you feel good and are appropriate for the office.
How Are The Others Dressing?
The first tip is very simple: look around you. Take note of what your colleagues are wearing and try to fall in line. You don’t want to stand out as the ‘scruffy one’ as this will instantly effect your colleague’s impression of you: sloppy in dress, sloppy in work. Similarly, if the office norm is to dress a little more casual than you are used to, you shouldn’t worry about following suit. Observing how your bosses dress is also a fairly safe way to gauge the office policy.
If you are dressing for an interview, you are of course unable to prepare in this way. Therefore, it is always better to dress formally since you will never get the chance to make a second first impression. In that first impression, both consciously and unconsciously, your interviewers will be assessing you and making quick judgments. Even if you end up being smarter than those interviewing you are, you will have nonetheless shown them that you are a serious and keen candidate. For more interview dress do’s and don’ts, have a look here.
The Bread And Butter
Buying a suit should be viewed as an investment. As you take care of it, a good suit can last for years and see you through countless meetings, presentations, and run-of-the-mill days at the office. It is important to make it count. You can accessorize your suit to brighten it up, enliven it, and ensure that you don’t look the same each day.
Color is the next hurdle. Black always works, even in the summer when you should just ensure that the material is a little lighter. For ladies, a nice black shift dress is always useful, allowing you to dress it up or down, depending on the occasion. Red and pink are known to be mood-enhancers. They must be used in moderation but if you feel comfortable in them you should take the chance to brighten up the office.
Summer is always a time when office formalities in general are left to slide a little. Knowing what liberties you can take with your dress when it is hot can be difficult. Can the men wear short sleeve shirts? Does that therefore mean a tie isn’t necessary? How loose can my skirt be? Is it too thin? What about sandals? Flip-flops for men? Is it time to get the Bermuda shorts out? Each office will have their own approach to summer wear, but as a rule of thumb, men should avoid sandals, and women should be sure not to show excessive cleavage or mid-drift. Light dresses are usually fine but ensure that no lingerie can be seen through the material.
Dressing for work can be tricky, but it requires is just a little sense. So, enjoy casual Fridays, but make sure they don’t take over the rest of the week.
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