Cracking the (Dress) Code: What should I wear to work?

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cracking-the-dress-code-what-should-i-wear-to-workOffice attire trends change every season, every year, every decade.  Dress code rules have changed drastically, mostly in the corporate world.  For those who wear a uniform, scrubs, or other standardized clothing to work, this decision is a non-issue.

For the rest of us, the common term in many employee handbooks, “business casual,” has taken on a life of its own…and can be a scary beast to take on for both managers and employees.

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Understanding what is still considered suitable for today’s office job is hard, and often misconstrued due to the “casual” part of the term “business casual.” Regardless of the season, weather, region, specific market and/or type of business, there are ways to conquer this challenge.

Great garb guidelines:

If a specific garment falls under any of these, it’s probably best to go with a different choice:

  1. Is the garment in question is stained, torn, frayed, faded, or missing buttons/zippers or any other pieces?
  2. Does the garment have a team logo or picture on it, and you aren’t employed by that team?
  3. Do you wear this garment to work out, clean your garage, walk your dog, or play any sport?
  4. Does the garment fit poorly in any way? Is it too big? Buttons pulling? Seams strained? Are you constantly tugging the sleeves, belt, or hem back in place?
  5. Most importantly… when you look at this garment and consider wearing it to work, do you doubt even a little bit that it might be appropriate?

In today’s corporate office, having so many employees with very different roles can make it next to impossible for a business to be very specific in its dress code. Because of this, it’s up to employees to be able to make great choices that will represent both themselves and the business well.

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Cracking the (dress) code of what to wear doesn’t have to be overly complicated.  Remember, whether you see clients daily or work in your own space, you probably still see your coworkers, your boss, maybe the CEO and other executives at work. Making a great impression is always important and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

The bottom line:

Does wearing the outfit you have on make you feel good? Would you be proud to see a new client today, dressed in what you’re wearing? Have you seen your successful boss wearing something similar? Go with those options!

Staff One HR can assist with dress codes, employee handbooks, job descriptions, progressive discipline, and more!  Contact the author directly at

Image:  Dmytro Zinkevych
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