Want to have a frothy conversation at the office, but keep it away from the hot buttons of politics and religion – start talking about the dress code. This works better if your office has a mix of ages and business backgrounds. An office full of 20 something designers or 40 something CPAs probably won’t lead to a lively talk.
What does business casual really mean? Wear hose, don’t wear hose. Capris, shorts, jeans in the office? To tuck or not to tuck – and if men must tuck, why don’t the women have to? T-shirts with logos, oh my. And flip-flops, duck if you bring these up.
I grew up in the age when one still dressed up for church, celebrations of any kind, really any notable occasion. (And I loved the authoritative click that my first dress shoes with a little bit of a heel made on tile!) Putting some effort into getting dressed meant that something special was about to happen. Both of my parents had sections in their closets for professional clothing – and I understood that to be taken seriously at work I should dress for the role that I wanted.
Now I am not stylish at all and I gravitate toward simple, comfortable clothing; and I like color as people who tend to too much black will tell you. I don’t read style magazines, but I have studied how certain people seem to be nicely put together – it seems to come down to coordinating items and accessories; which I hope to master one day.
Left to my own devices, I will dress neatly for work in my own uniform of sorts – a colorful top and a pair of Docker-like pants. A blouse or unconstructed jacket will take it up a notch for client meetings. I’ll wear jeans on casual Friday to show unity, but I’m not fond of jeans and office chairs – I prefer to wear my jeans when I can put my feet up.
Recently there was a discussion on one of my LinkedIn groups (Linked N Chicago-LiNC) that carried on for almost a full month having been started with the question Dress code at the office: Has it become TOO relaxed?. Here is a quote that I think sums up the discussion succinctly:
“How you dress is a marketing decision. You should make that decision yourself and not be bound by a rule.”
~David M Patt CAE
We each must figure out how to balance personal expression with the needs/wants of the groups to which we belong. If you decide to get your office mates going on this topic, let me know the outcome.
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