What not to wear to work this summer

June 30th, 2008

Workplace dress codes are a suprisingly big issue for small business owners — yes, even at that cute five-person creative agency you’ve always wanted to open. I wrote about this last week on abcnews.com. The photo is well worth the click.

A small business owner I know was recently lamenting the fact that one of his employees constantly brought two friends with her to work: her “girls.”

“She happened to be very well endowed and thought it was a good idea to share her blessings with the rest of the office,” my buddy Joe explained, a bit bewildered.

When the 23-year-old administrator had interviewed for the position, she’d worn a business suit, he said. But after she got the job, she came to work dressed as though she was making the walk of shame from the nearest nightclub: Six-inch-high strappy sandals. Gauzy white skirts, complete with red panties showing through. Low-cut tops that revealed “the girls pushed and pressed, saying ‘howdy!’”

Worried that staff and clients of his four-person creative agency might be uncomfortable with his new hire’s sexy summer wear, Joe solved the problem by instituting an employee dress code.

But his predicament was no anomaly, as anyone who’s ever had a coworker or direct report under age 30 can attest. With “business casual” the de facto dress code in an increasing number of workplaces, and no one 100 percent sure what business casual means anyway, managers find themselves addressing more and more wardrobe malfunctions, especially during the sweltering summer months.

In fact, a June 2008 CareerBuilder.com survey of nearly 2,800 U.S. companies found that 35 percent of employers have sent home an “inappropriately dressed” worker so they could slip into something a little less comfortable.

Everyone knows that in a casual workplace you can get a lot of summertime mileage from a clean pair of khakis and short-sleeved polo shirt (grads, are you listening?). But what if your personal style doesn’t lean toward Tiger Woods or Bill Gates? What threads can you get away with wearing to work when it’s so hot out you’re sweating 20 seconds after you step out of the shower? And which ensembles should you steer clear of no matter how high the mercury rises?

Read the rest of this article on abcnews.com.

Entry Filed under: Balance,Popular articles

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kuri  |  June 30th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I’m a big fan of Indian style, gauzy caftan shirts (with a cami underneath if the fabric is see-thru) because they cover a lot, come in pretty colours and fabrics, but still “breath” a lot.

    Also, loose A-line or gored skirts cover a lot but let the air circulate and still look good.

    Men can probably wear Indian or south Asian style shirts on casual days as well. However, I think that men have less flexibility that women when it comes to office wear. The best they may hope for is loose-fitting business suits with very light, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen.

  • 2. Liza R  |  July 2nd, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I’m an American woman living in Israel, and even though I’ve been here for 17 years, I’m still shocked by what passes for acceptable work attire. Nearly everything you’ve described as being unacceptable is often par for the course here, and while life in general is more casual (and this often carries over to dress), there are very serious problems where people don’t seem to understand that while something may look good, looking good for a night at on the town is very different from looking professional for work.

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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