In a July 2010 global survey conducted on by Thomson Reuters/Ipsos on Workplace Attire, 2/3 (66%) of respondents said that senior managers or individuals that run an organization or department should always be more dressed up than their employees. If this is the case, do you know how your summer wardrobe is being perceived? Is it considered too casual? Will your current summer picks get you to that senior level you striving for?
If you are not sure about the answers to the above questions, here are some tips to help guide you in understanding what is considered too casual for the office.
1. Decipher Company Dress Code Policy
First and foremost, be sure that you are familiar with your company’s dress code policies. Many companies have clear policies outlined in the employee guidebook as to what is considered appropriate vs. inappropriate for the office. Some offices are more conservative than others so it’s important to understand the varying degrees of acceptance. Don’t “assume” you understand simply by checking out what your peers are wearing.
2. Find Your Fabulous Fabrics
Select natural fibers for summer wardrobe pieces that can allow for breathability and staying cool. Good fabric choices: Cotton, Seersucker light weight jerseys and tropical weight wools. Avoid (as much as possible) clothing that is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc. If you opt to wear linen be sure that it’s not on a day when you have an important meeting. Linen is a wonderful summer fabric but is known to wrinkle very easily.
3. Don’t Over Expose Yourself
55% of employers consider tank tops and exposed undergarments as the biggest work-wear mishap in an office (flip flops is the second).¹ Summer apparel is lighter in color and lighter in the weight of fabrics so clothing can sometimes be see through so it’s important to factor this in for the workplace. Invest in undergarments such as slips or camisoles to help provide more coverage. For light colored pants (white, beige, etc.) be sure you choose brands that have a lining. Avoid: Plunging Necklines, bare shoulders and back, and if you are in a conservative office environment, don’t go sleeveless. However, there are great summer dresses that are sleeveless so be sure to bring a cardigan to cover up during the day and take off for the evening.
4. Pay Attention to Your Communication Style
Workplaces tend to become more “casual” in the summertime but that doesn’t mean your communication skills should become less formal. Office environments are a place of business and how one communicates should always reflect polish and professionalism when dealing with colleagues, managers, clients, prospects, and vendors.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sandals are a wonderful option in the summer but should be kept to after work hours or weekends. Instead opt for closed toe pumps or if your office is less conservative, choose a nice peep toe that isn’t exposing much of your foot. Avoid: Flip flops – yes even during the commuting. You never know who you might run into before you get to your desk. Also avoid wedges, strappy sandals, espadrilles and for all those that know me, I need to include the “croc!”
6. Handle Your Hygiene
Yes it’s true, we sometimes need a little bit more help in this department especially in the summer months. If you tend to get “over heated” in the summer be sure to carry around a travel size stick of deodorant so you are not put in an uncomfortable position during a meeting. For women, I suggest investing and carrying face blotters so you aren’t caught off guard with an ultra shiny face in the office.
What other types of summer wardrobe missteps have you seen in your office? Would love to hear!
¹Business Casual Causes Confusion by Stephanie Armour, USA Today