Dress to impress or keep it cool: which outfit did you pick?

We asked you which outfits would be permitted in the workplace:

1 – T-shirt and Bermuda shorts

2 – Crop-top and jeans

3 – T-shirt and trousers

4 – Shirt and trousers (Female)

5 – Shirt and trousers, no tie

6 – Smart jacket, top and skirt

7 – Suit and tie 

What did you choose?

– I think there is a strong case for having an office dress code. People need to know how they must ‘look’, as many are not automatically aware of what’s expected.

We all adopt a work and a home persona – it’s important to distinguish between the two. If you have a defined and sensible dress code at work, it helps you to work more professionally, and it can also engender respect. Many jobs require post-holders to convey an air of authority – and you cannot possibly do that in a pair of Bermuda shorts!

Our housing association, like many, is a pretty relaxed place, but we need to strike the right note dress-wise to be respected by the tenant, without intimidating them. I’d consider numbers 4, 6 and 7 to be acceptable, although I believe that a sports jacket and shirt without a tie could also work in the right circumstances.

Some of our staff would be very happy to wear a uniform (a la Easyjet), but we’re not there yet.

Sarah Hunt
Head of Corporate Service, South Somerset Homes

– I was interested to read your article on casual clothing in the workplace. I was amazed that policing is actually becoming more strict, as my organisation appears to be bucking the trend.

Of the examples given, number 2 would probably be the one that would not be accepted in our workplace.

When I joined the organisation in May 2003, I was issued with a strict dress code – told how long my skirts could be, what sort of earrings and shoes I could wear, etc. We used to have a very traditional culture, and we have done a lot of work to move away from this – one of the changes being the abolishment of the dress code. This occurred within a few weeks of me starting, with the only stipulation being that the branch and reception staff should still wear a uniform. The rest of the workforce has been left to their own devices, with an expectation that we will decide what is appropriate for the circumstances.

As a result, the office environment is a mixture of casual right through to formal attire, depending on the department and the individual’s working day. Initially, we found some workers going a little too far the other way, but nothing was said, and eventually, we have now settled into what seems to be a self-policing environment.

The first test of the new (non) code came fairly early on when a member of the Royal family opened our new head office. In the past, a communication would have been published leaving no-one unsure of how they were expected to dress. This time, nothing was issued, and on the day, we were all appropriately suited and booted for the occasion.

That day was a huge step forward in terms of us increasing our empowerment of and trust in the workforce.

Details supplied

– Being a front-line local authority service, we feel the need to uphold certain standards. When presenting an image to members of the public and senior managers, we need to look professional, to instil confidence.

The pictures numbered 4, 5, 6 and 7 would be acceptable, although we would prefer a tie on number 5. However, we would accept 5 and 7 without ties in hot weather, and staff generally prefer trousers on number 6.

In a closed environment, any code is acceptable, as long as it does not offend colleagues, which too much bare flesh – and, strangely, bare feet – often do.

Details supplied

– I was interested to read your article in Personnel Today, and would like to vote on the outfits that I think are appropriate for the workplace.

Numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 are very smart (6 and 7 being very businesslike and 4 and 5 being smart/casual). They project professionalism and respect for the people you work with and for, but, most of all, towards the clients you deal with on a daily basis.

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are definitely not suitable for the office, and depict an attitude that is far too laid back, which I personally think reflects an employee’s attitude to their work.

Thank you for highlighting this interesting subject.

Shirley Sharpe
Office manager – HRD, Vistablind





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