Summer Office Attire: What Not To Wear To Work
By: Robert DiaGiacomo
No matter how high the temperature rises, the right business clothes still make a strong statement in the workplace.
Experts say that no matter how hot it gets, flip-flops, shorts and tank tops remain fashion don’ts in most offices — and even workers in creative professions, high tech industries or other fields with liberal dress policies should be wary of showing too much skin.
Here are five tips for maintaining your professional look during the warm weather months or in any temperate climate.
Don’t Take a Vacation from Professionalism
To image consultant Sherry Maysonave, women in tank tops or men in shorts send a message that they’re not fully engaged with their jobs.
“It’s like their goal is to go on vacation,” says Maysonave, the author of Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success. “Too much skin in the game doesn’t score any career points for women — I hear it over and over. Guys do wear shorts, but I think it demotes them.”
Don’t Ignore the Rules
It’s especially important for anyone just starting a career to understand his company’s policies for summer office attire, according to workplace consultant Lisa Orrell, the author of Millennials into Leadership: The Ultimate Guide for Gen Y’s Aspiring to Be Effective, Respected, Young Leaders at Work.
“If a company doesn’t have an official policy, millennials should take time to talk to their bosses, although a lot of it boils down to common sense and being tasteful,” Orrell says.
Don’t Reveal Too Much
The latest styles for women and men may call for tight-fitting designs that reveal or show off well-toned bodies, but those looks are still more appropriate for free time than for work hours.
“If you’re a young woman wearing short-shorts and super-tight tank tops that you would wear to a friend’s house, that’s probably not appropriate, no matter what kind of workplace you’re in,” Orrell says.
It’s also not appropriate for a guy to wear cargo shorts and flip-flops the day a potential new client is coming in, she adds.
Although you’re likely to see flip-flops, Crocs and those FiveFinger “barefoot” shoes frequently in Silicon Valley workplaces and other unconventional offices, they’re still not considered a way to put your best foot forward in most professional settings.
In some traditional offices, even wearing shoes without socks is a major no-no.
“I know of one man who did not get a promotion because he went to a meeting with the CEO and was wearing shoes without socks,” Maysonave says.
However, women may have more leeway with footwear because not all flip-flops are created the same.
“You can buy a $300 pair of flip-flops, and they can be very classy,” Orrell says.
And What About Tattoos?
Conventional wisdom dictates keeping tattoos on arms, legs and shoulders covered, but with so many young adults making fashion statements with tattoos, attitudes are evolving, according to Orrell.
“For job interviews, companies are realizing that if they have a no-tattoo policy, they’re going to eliminate half the talent pool,” she says. “I tell companies, ‘Don’t judge the young person just because they have a tattoo showing. For all we know, the person was a valedictorian at Harvard. It doesn’t reflect on their personal values or work attitudes.’”