For many people, Memorial Day marks the official start of summer. In my office, that means the return of the summer dress code. For the summer (as well as “inclement weather” days and Fridays during the other seasons), we can wear casual attire to work. Examples given are khaki’s, sport shirts, and neat jeans. In reality, though, this dress code is very much abused, in my opinion.
In the past two days, I have seen a number of people wearing jeans with holes in them (and not the fashionable sorts of holes), t-shirts representing their favorite sports team, and I even saw someone in a sweatsuit. I didn’t know people still wore sweatsuits! But they do, at least in my office.
We’re a professional office, and I think that if you want to be respected, you should try to look the part. That doesn’t mean that if your office has summer attire like mine, you should wear a suit everyday. For example, yesterday, I wore a pretty summery skirt, a knit top, and heeled sandals. Not what I would consider professional attire, but I still looked very nice. I haven’t decided if I’m going to wear jeans this summer. I probably will at some point, but by pairing them with nice shoes and a dressier top, I can still look presentable and enjoy the benefits of summer attire.
I do like the fact that I don’t have to dress up every day for work. It is a bit of a money saver, in that my work clothes are significantly more expensive and this way they won’t wear out as quickly. Additionally, while some of my work clothes can be washed, others have to go to the dry cleaners, and that’s definitely not cheap.
But while it might save me money to wear jeans and a t-shirt every day, I’m not going to be that casual. Maybe khaki pants and a polo here and there, which feels excessively casual to me, as it was my high school dress code, but to others, it seems like good office attire.
I think if you want to be respected in your office, you should always try to look presentable. Sure, we all have our bad hair days, or days when the iron just won’t work or we oversleep, but as a general practice, I think that the more respectable you dress, the more respect you will receive. And hey, maybe that’s the best way to start if you want to get a promotion (or just keep your job in these economic times).
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
Finally!! Someone who has the same view as I do on what’s appropriate for the work place. Even though I haven’t been in the workforce for 8 years I remember always feeling you should dress the part, which was pretty easy for me since I worked in a doctor’s office and we wore scrubs. But I have 2 young kids in school and I’m amazed/appaled at what teachers wear these days. I get the need to be comfortable and dress clothes would no doubt get ruined with dealing with little ones, but come on!!! Most wear capris and flip flops. How am I suppose to take you seriously when you’re dressed like me, the stay at home mom? I understand wearing these things occasionally for field trips and such, but not when I’m sitting down across from you and you’re dressed more casual than I am. I’ve even noticed the lack of dressing ‘up’ the last few years at weddings, but that’s another story.
Done venting. . . .take care!!
I agree. It is appropriate to wear jeans on Friday (in fact some people where jeans all week) where I work, but I have never done it. I love the saying “dress for the position you want.” I may not always be totally put together, but I do my best to always look nice.
Corrie @ "Cents"able Momma says
I agree that you should dress nice when you are meeting with clients, but when I used to work at Borders Group’s corporate office, we had a very casual dress policy all year round. We could wear jeans, shorts, etc. To me, that was one of the perks of the job. I still felt professional (since everyone else dressed like that also), and I was comfortable doing my job. It certainly was a lot less expensive than professional clothes :-).
When we did have meetings with vendors, I would “dress up” in nice pants and a nice shirt. If I showed up for work in a suit, everyone would have asked me where I was going for a job interview :-).
Even at Borders, it would have been crossing the line, though to show up in jeans with holes, flops, etc. So, I can’t imagine doing it in a professional office.
Corrie, at first I was going to disagree with you, but by the time I finished your comment, I realized we’re in complete agreement. If your office has a very casual dress policy, then you would stand out by wearing professional clothing all the time. But I think a person can adhere to a casual policy and still look nice, and like you said, not wear jeans with holes, etc.
From my point of view, you can wear jeans and a nice shirt and shoes and look great, but you can also really dress down jeans. Heck, you can even just accessorize up an outfit. On casual days, I often wear nice jeans and a fitted t-shirt, but dress it up with a long necklace and cute ballet flats. Comfortable and easy, but I still look nice.
I also work in a very casual environment. Everyone I work with wears jeans and such. I’ve also gotten some serious teasing for dressing nicer once or twice. Once was a Friday, and my BOSS stopped by the next Monday to ask how my court date went. 🙁
My way working things is to wear nicer, dressier jeans. I usually go with straight leg dark wash jeans. Most days I wear a pair of plain Mary jane shoes, although once in a while I wear heels. I vary the tops a lot. Everything from dressy tops to button down shirts to a cute suit jacket to shirt and cardigan to a message t-shirt (I’m in computers, so I sometimes wear the geeky ones.) While I’m sometimes pretty casual, I’m sometimes over dressed, but either way, I never show up in holey jeans or anything.
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