For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer. In my office, Memorial Day signals the beginning of summer attire. For reasons I do not understand, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, we are allowed to wear casual attire rather than business attire.
Of course, my office’s view of casual attire is not what I would consider casual.
Business attire is typically anything from a full suit to khaki pants and a button down shirt. I usually dress somewhere between the two. Casual attire is anything from khaki pants and a button down shirt to jeans and a nice shirt. Of course, people take it much more casual than that. I fully expect to see someone in a velour track suit at some point. And there will definitely be people in t-shirts. And I don’t mean nice solid colored t-shirts. I mean Michael Jackson tribute t-shirts and the like. I like Michael Jackson a whole lot, but don’t think a t-shirt with his face is appropriate for the office.
When I first started here, I said that I wouldn’t wear jeans during summer attire. I wanted to dress nicer than that. That plan quickly fell by the wayside. The dress code says we can wear nice jeans during the summer, so that’s what I do. I also wear cute summery skirts on occasion, but for the most part, it’s jeans and a nice top (and usually a cardigan, because it is freezing in the building). I still look well put together, I think, but not overly so. The people who do refuse to participate in summer attire tend to look like they’re trying too hard. I figure if my boss wears jeans, I can wear jeans.
But it brings up an interesting point. What is appropriate office attire? If everyone else is doing it, does that mean I should too? I know that some will say that I shouldn’t wear jeans at all – that I should stay professional all summer. I agree in theory. But I like my jeans, and I like not having to iron every weekend. From a frugal standpoint, I’m saving a lot of wear and tear on dress clothes. Jeans are much more durable.
I think that deciding what to wear in the office is a bit of a balancing act. You don’t want to go too far to the professional side (especially in this office, where if you wear a suit during the summer, people think you have a job interview elsewhere), but you don’t want to fall into the habit of dressing borderline inappropriately either. It’s easy to fall into that habit, though I don’t think I will be wearing a velour track suit anytime soon. (Or ever.)
What is attire like in your office? Do you have people who take it too far on either end of the spectrum?