Appropriate Work Attire

If you can’t see the video above please check it out on YouTube:

I had written an extensive article (or rant) two years ago about the importance of dressing appropriately in the post: Dress For The Job You Want. I referred to the job hunters I was seeing come into the shop as “looking like they rolled out of bed, as if they didn’t mean to go out in public they were simply doing their laundry at home…” On to explain that “yoga” pants are not dress pants, they are meant for… wait for it… YOGA!

As a clothing store we are trying as employees to be fashionable, knowledgeable as to what to wear with different items that we stock. As a manager, its exceptionally frustrating to try to communicate this simple idea to staff: You must look the part! I find as a society we care less and less about our appearance and feel that if we simply show up to our jobs that that’s good enough. As if the employer or business should be thankful that you showed up at all to help them out. You know what I think? Its not about them, its about YOU. Do you want customers to question whether or not you are an employee? Have your employer looking you up and down trying to be polite but really wishing you would take a hint that you need to dress more appropriately?

Perhaps a lot of us are oblivious and have no idea that what we are wearing isn’t work place appropriate. So many jobs enforce a uniform so that they do not have to run into this issue. Its uncomfortable for both the employee and the employer. If you aren’t sure how to dress in your position, over-dress. Be observant and watch what the other employees are wearing, what kind of effort do they put into their appearance in the morning? This isn’t to say that we always have to have perfect days, we all have bad days where nothing looks good and doesn’t seem to work out in our favour. But this should be minimal.

The best advice I can give is figure out your “go-to” outfits. Pieces that you can wear together, styled with appropriate footwear and accessories to look professional. Have these outfits prepared and set aside so if you run into a morning where you hate everything (we’ve all been there ladies) you can put it on, maybe still struggling, but you’ll know in your mind that yes you do look good in this despite what your temporary “crazy” is telling you.

So what do you think is appropriate?

To sum up everything I’ve been rambling on about its quite simple. Ask yourself a few questions about your job, your employer, your coworkers and what you think the business is trying to accomplish:

  • What is my job description? What is expected of me?
  • How does my employer present themselves and their business?
  • How do my coworkers present themselves? How much effort do they put in?
  • What are the goals and aspirations of this business?

  • If you are working for a clothing store, office or bank, they will likely have a dress code of “business casual” which confuses 90% of the population. This term is honestly very open ended and depends on your employer, but what they mean is professional business attire without going as far as a fully tailored 3 piece suit. They want a look that is put-together, light makeup, hair groomed, jewellery or accessories, blazers, skirts, blouses, crisp cardigans… We could go on and on. Let’s compare brands for an example Banana Republic is “business casual” whereas Old Navy is more “casual”. This isn’t to say you need to spend more, you can get simple knit cardigans at Old Navy but pair it with a pencil skirt, floral camisole and matching jewellery with a pair of kitten heels and BOOM! Instant simple business casual.

    Show me what you mean Pamela!

    I’ve put together a sampling of outfits I’ve styled over the past few years to show a variety of unique outfits you can wear to work. Some are more fashionable, some vibrant (loud to some) and others more traditional business. Any of these looks can be mimicked to create your own professional wardrobe.






















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