What Not To Wear, Work Edition

Yesterday, we had a big-wig visit our office. So, upon pain of death, I asked everyone to dress up. Kind of rare of us, since we usually fly kind of low and casual on the radar. I even ended up with an employee in a tie. A TIE! He took that “pain of death” part pretty seriously.

But it got me wondering. In this new age of jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops wandering around cubes, how is your office these days? Are you still all corporate-ey? Is there still such a thing as “Casual Friday?” (Which cracks me up by the way… why are jeans more appropriate on Friday as a opposed to a Tuesday?)

So, tell me all about it. If you work out of the home, what do you wear to work? And have you ever been called out for wearing something inappropriate? If so, WHAT? Cause you KNOW we want THOSE details.

This article has 39 comments

  1. Sizzle

    There’s been some hubbub around here that we are not going to be allowed to wear flip flops which I think is pretty lame but whatever. They sent out an article to everyone saying it had some “good tips” but never came out and said You Must Follow These Rules. And yet, apparently management has some specific ideas about what we can and cannot wear. Someone even said that low cut blouses (which, yes, are inappropriate for the workplace) will traumatize the youth we work with (even though a lot of us don’t do direct service).

    People wear shorts and jeans to the office but we’re a non-profit so I guess that’s the norm? Whenever anyone dresses up around here someone gets the third degree. “Are you interviewing for another job?!” Or something like that.

  2. Amy in Ohio

    Now is the season where I try to get away with more capris (I’m in Ohio, so the fact that they are out of style is unimportant – we’re rebels). In May, I start out with some that could pass for high-waters, like maybe Ijust put on a couple pounds (no one’s gonna call you out on that one). Then gradually as the temperature rises, so do my pant legs. Until suddenly, OH! lookie there, my pants stop at my knees. Now, how’d that happen?

    And t-shirts. Not ACDC t-shirts of course, but lightweight, cotton comfort.

    If more people would follow me in this well-designed coup-d’etat, perhaps the eyebrows of the partners wouldn’t be so overworked.

  3. Tanaya

    I work in a bank our dress code is about as strict as it gets. NO capris, untucked shirts, no t-shirts or sweatshirts, and absolutely no flip flops. Nylons must be worn with any skirt and you cannot wear denim skirts unless it is Blue Jean Friday… We can wear jeans every Friday for a $1 fee and we don’t do that on the honor system. We take it out of your paycheck.

    I understand that we need to look professional and most of the stuff I don’t mind. However, the capri and nylon rules seem excessive in comparison to the dress codes of other banks.

  4. Candy

    I just went back to work after a 10 year at-home period with the kids. I’m surprised to say people don’t dress as corporately as they used to. Suits on women are almost unheard of around here. I mean, the women VPs wear them (and yes we have many) but certainly not the admin staff. I wear slacks every day. Every.Day. But now that it’s getting warmer, I may throw the occasional skirt in there. But nothing too fancy.

    Oh. and what happened to pantyhose?

  5. Dagny

    Things not allowed at my job — flip-flops, denim, t-shirts. I generally wear slacks or khakis from Ann Taylor with a twinset or a blouse. Sometimes I wear a dress. And like Procrastamom, I work for a construction company. But we don’t have Casual Fridays. It’s the same thing Monday through Friday. Oh, and we aren’t supposed to have piercings or visible tattoos either. I guess the stud in my nose is rather inconspicuous since it’s tiny. No one has yet to say anything to me about it.

  6. Anonymous

    I once worked in a school where I was reprimanded for not wearing panty hose with a long skirt. Now I work at a school where I would never wear a skirt and only wear jeans or pants. Yay for living in Colorado! 🙂

    Jen G.

  7. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Oh crud, folks – I am getting hit by spam bots again.

    May have to turn on word verification for a while.

    I HATE THAT!!!!

  8. Rhiannon

    I have work for a non-profit that is contracted by the County – so in light of that, the occasional elected offical drops in. Which means, NO JEANS. EVER.

    I wear lots of dresses,skirts, and suits. Which blows, because all those things are expensive.

  9. villanovababy

    After years of being stifled by oppressive dress codes in the military, I now wear whatever the hell I want. That is the brilliant thing about being a designer…people expect us to be a little kooky and creative, so nobody seems to care what I wear, as long as I look somewhat presentable. 🙂

  10. MamaMaven

    At our place it totally depends on what you do. Folks with no client or upper mngt contact are VERY casual–I’ve seen sweats. I generally wear skirts or dresses Mon-Thurs and jeans/capris on Friday. Thankfully dresses are cheap and in style these days and limit the wardrobe decisions to one piece and shoes. I rarely wear closed toed shoes from April to Oct.

  11. Builder Mama

    Another construction person here, and we are business casual Monday through Friday. Every now and then I’ll wear jeans on Friday and usually get the stink-eye from one of the owners, but I figure at this point they’d be doing me a favor to fire me over something stupid like that so I can get the summer off.

    I try to dress fairly nicely overall mostly because my clients are corporate development groups. When my specialty was retail clients I was way more laid back about what I wore.

    I envy my brother who works for Uncle Bill though. Holey jeans and flip flops are his usual attire, he had to buy a suit for the last family wedding since it had been like 10 years since he had worn one.

  12. joansy

    I work as an attorney in a public defender’s office and one of the biggest selling points for me on the office was the fact that every single attorney keeps a suit or two for court appearances, and then promptly changes into jeans or slacks upon return to the office. We always wear suits to court but otherwise it’s very casual, although I haven’t seen anyone in shorts or flip flops. They are even ok with me walking around in socks as I hate shoes. Tube tops would be frowned upon and everyone is always clean. It’s good to have some limits, I suppose.

  13. Listen Up, MoFos!

    I work for a public interest law firm. One of the things we tell our clerks/students is “don’t go out and buy a suit, but don’t wear a t-shirt that says ‘ski stoned’ and no open-toed shoes” in deference to our clients who are all low income and may never come in contact with another attorney-like person. We want to show we care about them.

    Attorneys keep suits in the office for court appearances and depositions, but wear jeans and t-shirts most of the time. I can’t imagine anyone wearing shorts and flip flops to work, I mean that’s just like giving up, no? I only wore sweats when I was pregnant and nothing fit comfortably.

  14. Mary Lynn

    I work in the software development lab of a large computer company. Since I don’t interact with customers I can wear pretty much whatever I want (within reason). Generally I wear t-shirts and jeans. I occasionally dress up in slacks or a skirt but invariably that brings out questions from coworkers about why I’m so dressed up…job interview? funeral to go to?

    In the summer I tend to wear capris pants, though when I was younger I used to wear shorts (not particularly short shorts, but still shorts). Some people wear track pants. It’s all good. Any kind of shoes is fine.

    On the other hand, I had to go on a course at our head office, which is nearby, and there they have to dress up. No jeans or shorts, no running shoes. Since I’ve lost weight recently I didn’t have any dress clothes that still fit. I didn’t realize just how dire my dress clothes situation was till the day before the course so I had to make a quick run out to the mall to buy a pair of slacks.

    I don’t know what I’d do if I ended up with a job where I actually had to dress up. It would have to be the best job ever for me to even consider it. I like being able to dress casually for work.

  15. Mary Lynn

    So, I have a question for people who have to wear nylons to work. How many pairs do you go through in a year? I rarely get more than one wear out of a pair of nylons because I always manage to snag them on something. It would drive me crazy wasting all my money buying panty hose.

  16. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    MaryLynn… I got through a pair of hose putting them on and then maybe make it through the day with my backup pair.If I had to wear them everyday I would be broke.

  17. Procrastamom

    I work in a mid-sized construction company and we have to wear business clothing from Monday to Thursday and on “Casual Fridays” we get to wear our jeans if we pay a twoonie into the charity bucket.

    I actually went to an interview last year (shhh! don’t tell my boss!) where the female interviewer looked me up and down in my business suit and then told me all about how their dress code doesn’t allow revealing tops – I had a suit jacket on with a sleeveless top underneath that covered all the cleavage. I had a hard time taking her seriously though, as I didn’t plan on taking the job if offered and also due to the fact that she had a HUGE mustard stain on her blouse!

  18. The Casual Perfectionist

    I’ve had various jobs in my past, and they’ve been from one extreme to the other. I had a job once where I worked in a call-center (i.e. NO clients EVER saw us), and we were required to wear dress-slacks or skirts (had to be at the knee or below, not above…women could wear pants, but management preferred we wear skirts.). Our shirts had to have sleeves, and our shoulders could never be uncovered. Cleavage was unacceptable. Our shoes had to be closed-toe and cover our heels. If we had to work the Saturday morning shift (which everyone did on a rotation), we could wear jeans. One Halloween, we petitioned the management to allow us to wear costumes, and they relented…which was cool. This was a “just out of college, I gotta pay my bills” job, so I wasn’t too concerned about it.

    Then, I had a job at the other end of the spectrum, where as long as you were partially clothed, it was acceptable. You didn’t even have to wear shoes. (That job was in that little city north of you that rhymes with Bolder.) There were some free-spirits there that didn’t even shower on a daily basis. I loved the casual, laid-back atmosphere, but it got a little intense at times. 😉

    Most recently, I worked from home and never saw clients. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we didn’t do any video calls. 😉 It’s my house, my office, and my rules. But, for the record, I still showered every day. 🙂

    Now, I have to wear clothes every day, or my toddler tattles on me. Such is life as a full-time Toddler Wrangler! 😉

  19. alphadaddy

    I work for a “start-up” with no documented dress-code . I’ve never tested the limits (always at least wear pants), but unless there’s a board meeting, nobody dresses in anything nicer than jeans.

    Sometimes (not often), I kinda wish I was forced to look a little more presentable.

  20. MB

    Dress code in my school district is strict as our kids wear uniforms now. As an administrator, I try to look as professional as I can, while there are still some teachers who wear JEANS even though the kids aren’t allowed to. Go figure. Anyway, the dress code for kids has made a HUGE difference in so many ways that I think it’s a good thing. Never thought I’d say those words.

  21. James

    Sometimes, I wear a parrot outfit with a pirate on my shoulder. Or, I dress up like a president. Oh, and those late nights working on the websites… pink power ranger.

  22. tiddleywink

    I would like to work with James, please!

    The founder/president of the company I work for is most often seen in jeans and a sweatshirt, so you can imagine that our dress code is somewhat “relaxed.” I’m one of the fancier dressers around the office, but can still frequently be found in jeans and a T-shirt. My own personal dress code prevents me from wearing flip-flops or my Electric Fetus T-shirt, however. No need to scare people.

  23. Nat

    Well I have gone from an environment where whatever went to one where they just canceled — yes canceled — casual Friday. (Again Looney rule, apparently the honour system wasn’t working.)

    Khakis are too casual. It’s suits or dresses. It makes me insane. Luckily we don’t have to do nylons. Let me just say, it’s a good thing the hours are flexible and I like my boss.

  24. Shamelessly Sassy

    I don’t work, but I have a friend who has a job where they only have casual friday. And, if you want to wear jeans on casual friday, you have to pay $5. I’m not even kidding.

  25. Emily

    Wait… capris are out of style? Seriously?

  26. Noble Savage

    Shorts, flip flops or sweatpants in an office environment is just not appropriate, IMO. I do get a bit irked about offices where they don’t allow any open-toed shoes though — it gets HOT in the summer and if they’re going to make women wear nylons they should at least let their poor piggies breathe a little. Also not sure how I feel about ‘no cleavage’ — I mean, who gets to be the judge of that? At what point does merely having boobs become ‘showing cleavage’? I know that many large-chested women say they have a hard time not showing any cleave at all because of the way they’re built. Seems a bit sexist to me.

    Again, they’re just boobs, people! No need to go blind or be offended if you see even a tiny hint of one.

  27. Tree

    This has been highly interesting! I cannot imagine still having to wear nylons. UGH. And no open toed shoes? Please.

    I, too, work for a construction company but it sounds like we are much more relaxed than the others here. I typically wear slacks / cropped pants / skirts Mon – Thurs and jeans on Friday. The jeans are not paired with a t-shirt, though, but usually a nice flowy top and a great pair of boots or wedge heel sandal. My staff tends to be all over the place – some wear flip flops (nice ones with little bobbles on them, etc.) and capris, sometimes jeans and a tshirt. My one guy wears khakis and button downs Mon – Thurs and maybe jeans on Friday. Operations is a bit more relaxed from this.

    I do think that to look nice instills a bit more professionalism into the work, but I also want people to feel comfortable.

  28. g-man

    There is a congressional staffer coming through the building today. I have on a red tee-shirt and jeans. I might put on a Hawaiian shirt to dress up on Fridays. 🙂

  29. Gwen

    Are skorts considered shorts or skirts to the dress code police?
    I think shorts and not appropriate for a business casual office, but it can get to be a hot topic around here with the ladies…

  30. Ali

    anything goes in my office. some people dress up and some people pretty much wear their pajamas. it’s a little bizarre, actually.

    i usually wear jeans or dress pants and a nice shirt. and never flip flops.

  31. Mrs. Chicken

    I had a (horrid) female boss who told me that if I wore more makeup to work at my low-level marketing job at a Fortune 100 company that I would get ahead faster.

    And then I died a little inside, and quit a year later.

  32. merrymishaps

    I work for a software company. We’re very casual, some weeks I wear jeans every day. (Different jeans, of course!)

    Once my officemate got in trouble for wearing a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off — but he had intended to work out in our office gym, just ended up working at his desk instead.

    He wears shorts every day, year round, and that’s not a problem, though.

    And one girl used to push the limits with her cleavage and sometimes wore tube tops and/or mini skirts. The HR person at the time used to leave her notes, and she’d just turn it up a notch. She’s since calmed down her wardrobe since getting married!

  33. Sunshine

    I work for a mid-sized telecommunications company and our dress code is pretty relaxed. No sweats, no flip-flops, no t-shirts with writing on them and the guys are supposed to wear shirts with collars. The only thing that gets enforced across the board is the no sweats. The rest of it depends on who your manager is and how important dress code is to the people around you.

    I kind of wish they were a little more strict. it’s not as bad in my department as it is in others around us.

    I usually wear jeans and a nice blouse or a cotton t and nice shoes.

  34. Sunshine

    Gwen i think it depends on the type of skort you are talking about. there is the skort where you can tell from behind that it’s shorts and the skort where it looks like a skirt the entire way around and just has shorts under it. I think if you can tell that it’s a skort from behind then it wouldn’t be allowed in a company that says no shorts…

    thats just what i would think…

  35. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Wow, these have been really interesting to read!

    And btw – I don’t wear flip flops to work- technically. More flip floppy sandals.

  36. bacioni

    I used to work for a large company that was casual M-F, except no shorts. You would NOT believe what people tried to get away with, even with the rule being “if you wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to the office”.

    I interviewed a few years ago for an HR dept. of a large casino and was told that, despite never having contact with the public, we were expected to wear pantyhose every day. WTF? When it’s like 115 out there? I think Not.

    Now I’m at a fairly small company where just about anything goes, except no shorts. And I started my own fashion trend when I showed up for work (on a particularly crampy day) in sweats (straight leg, not the gathered at the ankle ones). Not only did no one say anything, but after that just about everyone has shown up in them from time to time.

    Now mind you, I would rather have started a trend for platform shoes in funky colors or something, but I’ll take what I can get!

  37. lfm

    no jeans EVER in my office, it totally sucks…not even on fridays!!!

    no flip flops

    no polo shirts

    no logo merchandise

    no torn, frayed or patched up or transparent clothing (i kid you not)

    no stirrup pants, leggings or miniskirts

    no beach sandals, sneakers or casual slippers

    no tank tops or cropped t-shirts

    no novelty buttons, baseball hats

  38. BipolarLawyerCook

    I do the stuffy lawyer thing. Suits (usually skirt suits) M-Th, business casual (usu. skirts or a dress) on F. Never, ever jeans. No cleavage, ever. Always hose and closed-toe shoes (slingbacks are OK) to court and in client meetings. I once wore no hose and heeled sandals with a skirt and sweater set on a Friday and felt so naked. When I was working at home, I slobbed around in sweats, though I did take a shower every day.

    I prefer the dressing up. The structured clothing keeps me from getting too fat. The cushy clothes have too much leeway.

  39. Catherine

    I work in a small software office. There is no dress code. We have more rules about the dogs we can bring to work. Personally, I wear skirts, crops and pants. No shorts. No tanks. But my boss does. I think as long as you have clothes on, it’s okay.

    Does it surprise you to know I work in Boulder?

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