Throughout the time I have worked in places that required a very strict dress code and in places where nobody really cared whether you walked in in your flip-flops. The question is, is there some kind of a balance when it comes to dressing for work?
Does it really matter what we wear or do our results and skills value more? And also, what sort of a workplace would you prefer; one that dictates a very strict dress code or you wish to spend most of your day being rather casual?
Why is it important for the company?
First of all, let’s all admit it. It depends a lot on the industry we work in. if we have to face clients on a daily basis or participate in all sort of conferences and business meetings, it’s quite logical, it is basically common sense, that we cannot do these while wearing flip-flops or some Hawaiian short trousers.
Given that we work at a company with tradition, it’s quite possible that the owners might want to keep a certain image in place.
Also, in certain situations, the clothes you wear at work might reflect the values that the company has.
Does it really matter?
I, for one, prefer large and baggy clothes. And in many situations, trust me, this does not go well with the image of a respectable company. Ideally, clothes, just like tattoos and piercings, should not matter.
However, we still judge people based on appearances. And when it comes to clients and colleagues, managers, it’s quite essential that we look professional.
A nonprofessional look and some lose jeans are not bound to give us a managerial position.
Is there a positive side?
It seems so. In certain situations, it might be easier to have a dress code in place. Think of all the times you started at a new company and the first day you wondered “What should I wear to work so that I can fit in easily?”
Having a dress code solves this matter. Also, to a certain extent, having employees dress similarly (so to say) ceases making differentiations based on clothing.
This way chances are that your skills and abilities will stand out more and when you are appreciated, your look won’t have much to do with it.
Is there a negative side?
I will speak here from my own experience. Having a strict business dress code has a couple of downsides. One would be that nobody likes wearing a tie when there are 30 degrees outside. Especially if the AC is not working properly in the office and people complain of allergies. Also, let’s face it.
Business clothes are not cheap. And not many companies invest in raising the pay so that the employees can invest in the wardrobe that they are required to wear at work!
And last but not least, having people dressed up business-y creates a stiff environment. Nobody feels comfortable and hence, spending 9 hours at work becomes more of a pain than a gain.
What’s the middle ground?
Obviously, there has to be some common ground. Most of the employees will not prefer, if they can choose, to stay at a workplace that requires a lot of preparation in the morning and half of the wage spent on clothing. However, showing up like you are going on a holiday in Hawaii is also not the answer.
As you might have noticed, many clothing companies came up with a style called “business casual”, which we can call the middle ground. It relies mostly on common sense and a simple, not very sophisticated and yet decent style.
Along with this, there are certain rules that you can take into account when dressing for work. For instance, forget the flip-flops. Don’t blame the weather for showing more cleavage than necessary.
Pay attention to your perfume, you don’t want to intoxicate your colleagues. Wear the right size of clothes, if you are an “M”, don’t go for an “XS” or an “XXL”. I am sure that if you give it a thought yourself, you will come up with more rules that you might follow already, without even knowing it.
All in all, it should be about a group of people working together and respecting each other. Just think of what you’d hate to see your colleagues wear and what you appreciate.
Also, according to the industry you work in, you might need to wear business clothes or you can go wild and use your imagination when shopping. However, there is no right or wrong answer. We are all different. I, for one, would hate the business style, however friends of mine would feel awkward to go to work dressed in baggy, casual clothes.
What works for you? What defines you and in what sort of an environment would you see yourself spending most of your day?
Each workplace comes with a different set of rules and values, traditions. However, remember that you can perform at your best if you also feel comfortable.