Office dress codes debunked

Office dress codes debunked


Starting work in a new office brings lots of concerns. There is a lot to learn like who is who, where do things go and what processes need to be followed? Then there are the questions about what to wear and when. Large companies have usually considered this and have a written dress code. This code must be equal for both men and women, with some considerations given to disability and religion where necessary. Human Resources should provide this dress code to all new employees before they start, but sometimes it is still not clear what is expected and what is acceptable.

Some corporations may have dress codes in place to adhere to health and safety rules. For example, people who work with food will need to have hair tied back, nail varnish removed and all jewellery left at home to prevent contamination. Employees working with tools or heavy goods will be required to wear boots with toe protection and possibly hard hats. Others provide their workers with uniforms so they are easily identifiable and so they promote a unified image. For example, shop staff need to be easy to find, and airport employees promote an organised and smart image to their customers. These guidelines are easy to follow and the reasons behind the requirements are clear. Things are a little more difficult to understand when the dress code is simply described as ‘Business Formal’, ‘Business Casual’ and ‘Dress Down’.


What does Business Formal mean?

This particular dress code is easier to understand. This will mean wearing a dark coloured suit for both men and women and a light coloured, plain shirt with a collar. Men usually wear a tie and women are required to only wear small pieces of jewellery. Make-up and nail varnish should be minimal and muted tones used. Shoes should be understated and traditional in appearance, such as court shoes for ladies and brogues for gentlemen, and socks or tights should be traditional. The overall appearance should be unremarkable, very smart and conservative. If a person’s attire stands out, it probably doesn’t meet tho business formal dress code.


What is meant by Business Casual?

Business casual is a little more tricky to describe and usually applies to staff who do not regularly see customers face to face or see clients on a daily basis. There is generally no reason to wear a suit for this dress code, but it is important to still look professional and smart at all times. Trousers and skirts should be plain or understated, and tops should be fairly traditional. Soft collared shirts, polo shirts and blouses are good choices. The amount of skin on display should be kept to a minimum, so no sleeveless tops, low cut necklines or very short skirts. Perhaps socks, tights and cardigans could be more relaxed with some pattern and colourful versions being acceptable in some offices. When in doubt it is always better to be slightly overdressed and then re-assess the situation as time goes on.


What to wear on Dress Down Friday

A lot of work places have a more relaxed dress code on Fridays. Although it is fine to wear clothes which reflect a little about each individual’s personality, there are still guidelines to follow. Flip flops should never be worn along with other beachwear like board shorts, vest tops and boob tubes. T-shirts with offensive slogans need to stay at home in the wardrobe as do team shirts of any kind. Jeans should be clean and not ripped, and trainers should be smart.

The ultimate aim for employees is not to be noticed for their clothing. No matter what the dress code is, if everyone’s attire meets the guidelines then no single person sticks out. To help with purchasing the perfect pieces of clothing, look at and get discounts for Dorothy Perkins Clothing, that is perfect for the work place.

Picture: © Businesswoman (24328644@N08/flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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