Updated: May 29
Whatever environment we work in, we should feel comfortable and empowered at work, so when we arrive dressed for work, we feel confident and ready to tackle the day ahead of us. But, is our dress code important? and why do so many people get the dress code wrong?
Years ago I interviewed a young architect who arrived at the first stage interview in a long black crushed velvet ballgown, with layers of theatrical tulle gathered around the waistline! As the young lady entered the interview room, the tulle from the waist of the ballgown caught on the edge of the seat, which was not the most comfortable way to start to an interview.
A ballgown simply does not work in a minimal design environment. It is not practical and it does not represent the clean-clear thinking of an architectural designer.
Do not judge a book by its cover Easier said than done, another metaphorical phrase meaning, in theory, we think it is difficult to do. While we should not prejudge the worth or value of something or someone by its outward appearance alone, we as humans naturally and curiously judge each other, albeit, what we do with our judgement is a choice. Okay, so the young lady at the interview dressed inappropriately that day. A ballgown was not practical for an architectural design environment, so putting her outward appearance aside we proceeded with the interview. However, the CEO later queried, "How did stage one go', and 'Who on earth was the lady in the ballgown?' A Lawyer working in a bank will dress slightly differently than a lawyer working in a media company. A director working in an estate agent will dress differently than a director working in a science laboratory. Every working environment is different, which is why there is so much confusion about what to wear for work or in an interview.
If you are unsure, have a good think about the environment in which you work. Often a company marketing campaign will set the tone for the office dress code. WWU (work wardrobe update) is one of the most popular personal shopping requests as it is important to feel confident and empowered during a public speech or company presentation. Whether you work in a formal or informal work environment there are just two dress-code rules to empower you at work;
Maintain the highest standard of personal presentation: Make an effort to groom. Clean hair, a fresh face, a trimmed beard, clean, ironed clothes, clean shoes and if your working environment allows, clean, fresh make-up. These simple basics show you take pride in your appearance and in your profession. Always dress for business: Your working environment will dictate what you wear for work. It can be confusing as there are mixed dress codes across a lot of formal (corporate) and informal (creative) offices. 1. Corporate companies = Formal business attire
E.g. Banking, Legal, Teaching, Politics, Public Speaking, Press and commercial environments.
Quality tailored suits, no-frill blouses, shirts, knee-length skirts, quality shift dresses, crisp tailored shirts, clean un-scuffed shoes, clothing that fits your frame correctly. If you are confident, power-dress in strong bold colours. If you need help and you are bored wearing the same old black trousers and a top then book an appointment with a Personal Shopper.
2. Creative companies = Informal smart/casual
E.g. Design, Media, Marketing, Arts, Music.
Being yourself is usually widely encouraged in a creative company, although, 'being-yourself at work', is why so many people get it wrong! Employees often make the mistake of being too casual in a smart-casual environment.
Remember, you still need to iron your clothes and maintain personal presentation. Save cheap ripped jeans, low tops and narcissistic slogan T-shirts for outside of the office. IN the same breath, some ripped jeans may work, but if you are unsure, keep it simple. It basically depends upon how informal your working environment is.
Think practically. Avoid short-shorts or short-skirts, low tops, see-through tops because it doesn't matter where you work, sexy revealing clothes do work in a professional formal or informal work environment. It will not empower you or other people!
What should I wear for work during the summer/ in a hot climate?
Dressing for work during the summertime or in a hot climate can be challenging. It is hot and sticky, but you do not want to turn up for work looking like you have just rolled off the beach.
Whether you work in an informal or formal working environment, simply find alternative light-weight fabrics and pretty much dress the same as you would during the rest of the year.
In the UK flip-flops are banned from most formal and informal working environments.
Simply because they are deemed a health and safety hazard.
Think about our working environment...escalators, lifts, stairs, stools with wheels, other people rushing past you. It may sound OTT (over-the-top) but they are a health and safety hazard at work and outside. Flip-flops are designed for the beach (for walking on sand with ease) thus, other employees do not want to listen to Gordon, Gemma and Gloria flip-flopping-the-flip-out past them! The people featured in this article photograph have all correctly executed number 2 perfectly. They work in an informal environment (smart-casual) work place where everyone on the photograph is groomed, looking sharp, clean and keen to be in work.
If you are unsure of what to wear for work, think practically, identify whether your workplace is formal or informal and confidently wear what makes you feel comfortable, empowered and confident in your work place. For more informative about shopping subscribe to my blog here.