You are Wearing That??

Recently a colleague approached me to discuss office dress code and what she perceived to be violations of the dress code by interns. This got me thinking about a couple things.

One, did the organization have a written dress code? As a volunteer myself I am not a regular office member, but I am subject to all of the department policies. In the volumes of reading material I encountered during my first week, I do not remember seeing a dress code. So if there is no formal written document, it begs the question, whose dress code?

Which leads me to thought number two. While we were having the conversation, it occurred to me that the interns most likely never held a professional role or title. They may not know what workplace culture is, or they may not have a professional role model to look to for cues on what is appropriate for the workplace. These ladies were not dressed inappropriately, but perhaps inappropriately for the conservative environment for which they are working. The primary concern of the office member was that the intern’s shorts were too short.

So who has the responsibility to teach young people about workplace dress and culture?  It is certainly not happening in the schools. At the graduate level, I watched fellow classmates give presentations in sweatpants, wrinkled t-shirts, and ripped jeans.

For me, acceptable workplace items include knee length skirts, button down blouses with sleeves, and trousers.  I do not think that sleeveless or low-cut shirts, short skirts, yoga pants, or shorts belong in the work environment.  Jeans are acceptable depending on the office – but leave your sparkle booty jeans at home.

You should feel confident in your office attire, and it should be something that is not distracting to you or your colleagues.

Does that make me old school? Perhaps! But isn’t it better to remove any distractions that could overshadow your accomplishments?

What do you think?