It never fails. The hot weather rolls in, I take a look at what some people are wearing to the office and ask myself, “Does the dress code state clothing optional?” While many offices have relaxed their dress requirements, it is important to remember it is still a place of business.
Where to start? First, if your company has a handbook, (if they don’t please have someone call me for a consultation), look up the dress code policy. Hopefully, it clearly states what is and is not acceptable work attire. Some companies are quite strict and explicitly spell things out such as skirt length.
But, there always seems to be room for interpretation. For example, if the policy states, “skirts of appropriate length, not shorter than the fingertips when standing with arms held straight at the side with fingertips extended,” do not try the teenage girl trick of looking in the mirror and slouching down a bit to convince yourself it will pass. It won’t.
Tops too are an item that can have several restrictions. Let’s look at cleavage. Wait, let’s not. Christina Aguilera’s sexy low cut tops are fine for “The Voice” but do you really think you should wear one to a client meeting? Well, maybe if you are a stripper. For everyone else, if the words backless or plunging can be used to describe it, you should save it for a different venue.
Your company may feel that T-shirts are acceptable. That’s fine but, you should be cognizant of any writing and pictures. I should not have to say it—okay maybe I do—profanity and vulgarity are frowned upon, please do not wear things that have either. Also, actually look at what is on your shirt. I once had an employee wear a t-shirt with a competitor's logo; the boss was not amused.
There is, of course, the issue of appropriate dress for gender. It has been argued that if, for example, skirts are acceptable they should be acceptable for both male and female. I’ll let your HR person handle that.
It is great to wear fashionable and comfortable clothes but you must bear in mind that you are going to work. Even if your company policy allows for casual dress, at the very least make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle free.