The Trials and Tribulations of The Professional Work Dress Code

When it comes to achieving the professional look, normally we refer to office design, an office refurbishment or a commercial fit out, but on this occasion, we’re looking at fashion, professional work dress code and generally what to wear in the workplace.

Every morning getting ready for work is the same old scenario…“I don’t have anything to wear!

How come we get up and dressed for work every day and yet we still have nothing to wear? You would think that working five days a week (less or more, it doesn’t actually matter) we would have learnt to build up a substantial wardrobe for all seasons that adhere to the professional work dress code, but for some reason it remains a daily battle.

OK, so it might not be as difficult for men. Talking to the chaps in the JBH office, men seem to have a standard work look – smart shirt, smart trousers and the usual work shoes. They may occasionally have to grab the iron at the last minute in the mornings, but generally it’s not too much of a daily hurdle.

If you are lucky enough to wear a uniform, like the JBH onsite team, then your morning routine may be straight forward. Chances are you are more likely to struggle choosing what to wear at the weekends!

Why is Deciding What to Wear to the Office so Hard?

Typically its the ladies that have the hardest battle in the mornings. Some days you may change once, twice or even three times before leaving for work. So, what is causing this difficult decision making? Let’s take a look…

  • There are far too many options available.
  • It can be difficult to mix and match trousers and tops, skirts and shirts.
  • Your weekend clothes become your work clothes, so you need to make them look smart – somehow!
  • The rules in many offices aren’t always clear. You could turn up for work in a tailored dress, while a colleague might rock up in jeans and a jumper.
  • You never seem to have the right shoes – standard fact!
  • The weather changes throughout the day, so you need to consider if it will be too hot or too cold, wet or dry later on.
  • Air conditioning is major factor! During the summer, you might wear a nice dress to work which is ideal for the outside temperature, then the office air conditioning comes on and you’ve had to add a fetching fleece to your outfit by lunch time, then perish when you need to look smart for a meeting.

Professional Office Workwear Versus Professional Office Design

Did you know that the way you dress for work can be subconsciously dictated by your surroundings? Yes, that’s right, your office design can impact on your outfit choices.

If you work in a professional environment – one with a high-quality finish, corporate décor, comfortable office furniture, good lighting, modern technology and stylish features – you are more likely to dress professionally, or certainly in keeping with the brand and company ethos.

When an office is refurbished to improve the work environment, it can instinctively encourage workers to dress smarter.

If the office space adopts a fashionable and trendy design using lighting, wall art, and cool furniture, workers are more like to dress inline with current trends.

If you are struggling to enforce a suitable dress code in your office, it could be that an interior refurbishment is exactly what your business needs. You can browse our website to find out more about office design, decoration, refurbishments and how much an office refurbishment costs. Please also take a moment to see how other businesses have improved their workspace to provide a better impression to clients and visitors.

Professional Work Dress Code by Sector

As well as office design, the professional work dress code and the type of clothing you wear to work depends on the work undertaken and the sector. What is acceptable in one office may not be in another. A journalist for The Telegraph Lifestyle and Fashion reported on the turmoil of having to dress appropriately to meet with clients from different sectors in one day, usually resulting in a quick change in a hotel loo.

Many businesses have a dress code policy which employees are expected to follow. Points included in most dress code policies are for:

  • Health and safety reasons.
  • To uphold a standard within the professional environment.
  • To portray a certain image that reflects the company’s ethos.

As an example, the creative industry is associated with trend setters, so high fashion is the norm. There is no place for tailored trouser suits here. Its more about looking creative and trendy.

Jeans, trainers and t-shirts are acceptable as standard work wear in many creative agencies. However, a meeting with a client could throw you into disarray, which is where the dilemma of what-to-wear-to-work that day could come into play, causing a major panic!

For professional sectors, such as accountancy, legal firms, administrative support, the style of workwear is usually formal, as workers need to portray a very professional service. A good stock of tailored items, shirts, blouses and smart footwear is compulsory for this sector.

While dress code policies differ from one sector to another, the employer must ensure it does not discriminate against men, women, disabilities or special needs. Everyone must be treated equally and fairly. If you are an employer that would like advise on a dress code policy visit Acas, which specialises in workplace issues.

Avoid Looking Unprofessional

There are a few pitfalls that anyone can make when getting dressed in the morning and failing to look at themselves fully in the mirror. On a standard work day, they may not be that serious, but if you are attending an interview or an important client meeting here are some things to avoid:

  • Clothing that shows off large tattoos.
  • Don’t wear anything too low cut, too short or transparent isn’t a good look for work.
  • Wearing low cut trousers that show off your underwear is a big no no!
  • Wearing hairbands on your wrist.
  • Wearing clothes with holes in them. That goes for tights too.
  • Toothpaste marks – a classic!
  • Ill-fitting clothes. If your clothes are too big or too small just don’t wear them, it looks sloppy and unprofessional.
  • T-shirts with slogans on them.

Basic Office Work Wear

If getting dressed for work in the morning is becoming a drag, then it’s worth stocking up on a few basic items that work for both formal and informal days at work. Here is a shopping list that will be fitting of any professional work dress code.

  • Smart black/navy trousers or tailored skirt/ pinafores that go with everything. Go for high waisted trousers to avoid displays of underwear. Finish off the look with a brown, tanned or black belt
  • A selection of smart cotton shirts makes it easy to look professional everyday. You can team a classic shirt with smart skirt or trousers for a formal look or dress it down with jeans and a belt on ‘Dress Down Fridays’.
  • Smart closed toe shoes/boots are best for everyday workwear. Avoid showcasing your toes during an important meeting.
  • A suit jacket can be dressed up or down and keep you warm in the office.
  • Invest in a few good quality fine knit jumpers/cardigans that can be layered over shirts when the office gets a bit chilly.
  • Smart tailored shorts are ideal for the gents in hot weather, while the ladies can embrace loose summer dresses with sleeves or thick straps. Make sure you avoid speghetti straps and low cut tops.

Before investing in new office attire, make sure you consult your professional work dress code policy first. Not everything is acceptable in every office.

Good luck and enjoy a future of stress-free mornings!

For advice on improving your office design, furniture, décor or layout contact our team a call on 0333 207 0339. We can even advise on financing your office refurbishment.

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