A friend of mine recently shared the dress code her HR department sent around to be sure that everyone is looking office-appropriate for the summer. I wanted to share it (anonymously) with you because it continues to completely baffle and frustrate me that companies need to send out memos like this to their employees.
With the warm summer weather, we all tend to get lax about adhering to X company’s dress code policy. We ask that you uphold the standards of business casual attire, which means dressing professionally, looking relaxed, yet neat and pulled together.
For women: A reasonable length skirt (not miniskirt) or trousers of a non-jeans material combined with a top (such as a dress shirt, polo, or sweater set) is considered acceptable. An informal dress with appropriate skirt length is also acceptable.
For men: A combination of collared shirt (such as a dress shirt or polo shirt), cotton trousers (such as khakis or blue, green, brown, or black trousers), and modest shoes (such as loafers) with socks is generally acceptable. A blazer or business jacket can optionally be added.
Unacceptable for either gender: jeans, shorts, gym clothes, rumpled or ripped clothing, miniskirts, flip-flops, underwear as outerwear, inappropriately revealing attire such as bare midriffs, and flip-flops.
As with all X co policies, the dress code is reviewed on a regular basis, and as our business needs change, this policy, in particular, may be subject to change.
Now, after reading this, I was left bewildered. First, does my company honestly think that I would wear my underwear as outerwear? Well, maybe if I were John Cleese. Second, they say no inappropriately revealing attire. How do I decide what “inappropriate” is? My definition might be that a low cut dress is not too revealing – does that mean HR will call me into their office?
I know that companies feel the need to provide boundaries for office attire. I get it. I’ve worked at big companies, mid-sized companies and little companies. This whole “business casual” thing has thrown everyone for a loop and there are always people who push the limits. I came across this post on Resume Bear, that gives some great tips for summer office attire. In my opinion, the most important rule for dressing for the office, regardless of the season, is to think about what you want your attire to say about you. For example, a strapless sundress dress might say – “Pick me up at 6, big boy,” while a fitted cotton shift dress says – “I know how to rock mad powerpoint skills while looking totally put together.” See the difference? I thought so.
I work in start-up life where anything goes. This mantra can be great because you can wear your cutoffs and ratty t-shirts to the office but, in my opinion, it’s a tragic state of the working world. Since when did it become okay to look like a cast-away from Gilligan’s Island in the office? How can I take you seriously when I’m wondering when that shirt was last washed or what the hell you were thinking when you pulled on those knee-length white socks with your shorts?! Oy…I digress.
On the other hand, the new business attire of khaki pants and polo shirts makes me equally mad but for a different reason. It screams “everyone look the same.” You might as well just call it a uniform and call it a day. Everyone in shades of tans and beige and that is a different kind of horrible. But, if I had to pick one, I would go with the business casual attire because it means, well, business.
Here are a few rules to follow as you expand your summer wardrobe and to knowing what’s not appropriate for the office.
1. If you’ve worn it to the beach, it’s not appropriate.
2. If you’ve worn it on a boat, it’s not appropriate.
3. If you’ve worn it to a cocktail party, bachelorette party, booze cruise or other such alcohol-induced festivity, it’s not appropriate.
4. If I can see your bra, it’s not appropriate.
5. If I can see your boobs when you bend over, it’s not appropriate. (sorry, fellas)
6. If I can see your undies when you sit down, it’s not appropriate.
7. If you think twice about whether it’s appropriate before you leave the house, it’s not appropriate.
8. If your mother would make a comment that it’s not appropriate, it’s not appropriate.
9. If your opposite sex co-workers are spending more time at your cube than usual, it’s not appropriate.
10. If you wear it to a club after work, it’s not appropriate.
So, I hope this was helpful as you navigate the world of summer style in your office. I’d love to hear what you think is acceptable and appropriate.