“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” Quote by Mark Twain

If you find this article familiar, then you have been browsing through my 2015 posts. This post is initially titled Dressed For Success but I want to do an update version of office wear. Especially since 5 years has passed, there are more companies opting to allow their employees to wear casually. And this article deserves a revamp with additional new information.

It’s true to dress up for success and I don’t mean it by donning your best glam evening dress or your best tux to work. The current workplace is evolving nowadays. Although most offices (especially in Asian) still requires you to dress in business attire (read: business suits and pencil skirts), more and more workplace is switching up to something more unconventional like jeans and tee. Yay!

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But first, why should companies allow casual wear in a serious setting in workplace?

Seen as one of the perks to be able to dress casually or even creatively, companies like Google and Apple who doesn’t have a strict dress code not only attracts talents and increases staff morale too.

Read More: Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation In Your Workplace

Allowing your staff a broader guideline in dress code also play down the fact that superficial appearance are in the workplace culture. Sure, you can decked out in a fancy suit but it does not mean that your productivity rate will be higher than the guy lounging in tees and jeans.

Hands up if you are comfortable in heels and suits! Yes, it does look sexy and professional when you see suits and heels on TV drama series like Suits but I will gladly switch to tee, jeans and Converse shoes. In fact, it gives me great pleasure to look up the various ways how to style your jeans with different shoes, so my office look is always being changed up! 

However, there still needs a line to be drawn

I’m not writing a fashion piece on my website (it’s not me) but I do cringe inwardly when I see inappropriate clothes in the workplace. And it’s a delicate topic to address across to your team, if someone from your team or your department decided to deck out in emo goth, chains and panda eyes.

If you want someone especially your management to take you seriously, you need to dress as someone they can relate to. Please do remember that your bosses and your bosses’ bosses probably are in their fifties and above, so it’s not good to add the shock factor in your dressing if you are aiming for the next promotion.

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1. Watch that message!

Slogans on tee are the best way to shout your creativity inner you but do watch that your message or picture displays are not offensive, lame or childish. It’s one thing to wear “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” quote from Steve Jobs and quite another thing to wear the face of the wonderful man on your chest, parading around the office.

You may think it’s cool have a message “I’m such a drama b*tch” across your chest but it’s derogatory to women even the wearer is a female. Wear it to a Laneway festival by all means, don’t bring it to office. Those with sexual images or questionable statements, in particular, can offend your co-workers, especially if it is against their culture or beliefs.

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2. Watch that length! 

Feminists, please don’t hate me but wearing a skirt that barely covers your butt is no way to lead a presentation even more so in front of clients. I have worked in corporate sales where the sales account managers wear skirts so short, there’s barely enough cloth to wipe the table clean.

Not to mention every time I have to uncomfortably avert my eyes whenever one of them bends down to speak to me on my desk so that I don’t catch one of her assets trying to sneak out of the v-neck low-cut blouse; and I’m a female for goodness sake! Save the sexy bits for a hot date or on the club floor, but please pile up during the office. We don’t want you to catch a cold.

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3. Accessories Appropriately 

Yes, I agree those chunky silver bangles looks so cool and funky on you and it totally rock the outfit you are wearing. Nothing wrong but do take it out when you are furiously typing on your keyboard because the “clank clank clank” and the “clink clink clink” of your bangles on the table is not pleasant to my throbbing headache, sitting next to you.

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4. I know it’s summer but… 

I can kinda appreciate baseball caps in the office although it doesn’t really shown that you can command respect if you are in your grey business suit and tie while wearing a baseball cap backwards on your head. I think it’s cute (not serious) when it’s donned with casual shirt paired with a nice fitted pair of jeans.

And what’s with wearing sunglasses in the office? Really? Seriously? You may giggle as you read this but I have encountered more times than my fingers and toes can count on and they are not having sore eyes nor recovering from a LASIK eye operation.

No backless top either. Especially with the air con baring down cold air with a vengeance, it’s a wonder that you don’t fall sick. If you really want to wear one for work, make sure to wear a cardigan over it to make it look presentable for work.

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5. Flip-Flops

Unless you worked on a beach (green with envy), all kinds of slippers should stay out of the office. I don’t know what’s the deal with ladies walking in with a pair of skyscraper sexy heels then you catch her scrambling to the meeting room in her bedroom fluffy slippers. Huh? If I get to choose, I’ll wear a pair of all black converse sneakers over heels anytime. You want to know why?

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6. Are you broke or….

While casual offices allow jeans, they must look presentable and simple. Going to work in ragged jeans will give different signals to people who see it. If you wear jeans to work, please don’t let it be that tattered and torn pair that you always wore to your favourite hangout on weekends.

That being said, if you wear a shirt to office, iron it or bribe the cute girl living next door to you to iron it for you. Always check that the blouse you are wearing is not chewed up by your enthusiastic Rottweiler.

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7. Rainbow in the office

Neon yellow mesh top paired with cherry red pants matched with purple eyeshadow and white polka dot blue shoes on a Monday morning. Enough said.

Colors are great, moreover I hate to walk into a roomful of black and greys, just don’t make yourself an eyesore, keep loud colors to a minimum.

8. Leggings

Leggings are fine if you are wearing a dress, skirt or long top covering at least to mid thigh. Why?

Most leggings are skin tight and some are thin or sheer, not only it will show visible panty line, it may show the shapes of your private bits that you want to keep them private. I have heard that some schools totally ban leggings due to these reasons.

9. Clothes that requires constant adjusting

Some clothes require constant adjusting such as tops with plunging necklines, low cut tops, skirts and baggy clothing. If you want to focus on your work better and not have to worry about your clothes, wear clothes that are just right for you to work with and still make you look presentable.

It can be irritating if you are talking to the person who keeps adjusting her shoulder straps every three seconds and you know she is uncomfortable which makes you so uncomfortable that you want to end the conversation immediately and walk away.

10. Clothes that don’t fit properly

If you just lose weight, congratulations! If you put on weight during the lockdown, don’t fret – me too! If you find that your clothes are too tight or too loose, don’t wear them anymore.

Some of these clothes may reveal body parts which should not be seen by others. Like a too-tight shirt with buttons threatening to pop out any moment or a pair of pants that is too long with hems dragging on the floor.

Good news! Time for shopping! Make it a point to update your wardrobe to fit your current figure.

Read More: How to Get Paid to Shop For Others

I do hope you enjoy reading my articles as much I enjoy reading yours. Keep those comments coming in! And if you have an issue at work, in need of a second opinion, don’t be shy to drop me an email at kally@MiddleMe.net.

Want to learn what are the appropriate office etiquette? Here are some helpful articles:
How to Win Your New Colleagues Over in Your New Job?
How to Politely Turn Down After-Work Socialising Without Hurting Your Career or Offending Your Coworkers
How to Behave at Your Office Christmas Party?
Annoying Office Habits of Your Co-workers

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65 replies on “What Not to Wear at Work (even If You Work in A Casual Workplace)

  1. Spot on! You’re advice is very sound and sensible, not at all strict. I especially like what you point out about the barely-clothed women… It may be some kind of statement like, “See! I can wear whatever I want to wear; it’s my right.” Okay, I get it, BUT this is not feminist. Point in fact, it can (and often does) end up being degrading to women… I would say to those well-educated, highly skilled, capable women, “Yes, you’re qualified, and you sure don’t need a bunch of male chauvinists telling you what to wear, but … be careful. Think about just what image you ARE projecting and ask yourself, ‘Is this what I want?'” Well, anyway, great post!!! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Precisely, Jonathan! You got my point! Its not only women who are dressed inappropriately at work, sometimes I tried to groom and present my staff to the management and they replied “Look, I know he is a great worker but he doesn’t seems to be cut out for managerial position. I don’t think folks will take him seriously.” Sad but true, people tend to judge people by its cover, in this case, clothes. Its hard to vision a guy or a girl who dressed as a dork as someone who can lead the world by storm however, how smart he is. Thanks for reading! Its always great to have readers like you who appreciates!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely spot on Kally. Nowadays there is trend to wear half-sleeved shirt and top flashing the tattoo on biceps and forearms and other places which I really not want to discuss. More than pity it enrages me to delegate anything to such people as somehow my mind consider them having “amateurish” and “lousy” work ethics. (It may possible that few of them are really good, but impressions going to linger a lot longer for me once view formed). I love to work with people who knows how to present themselves in official space.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this info as well. I don’t care how one dress to represent his identify or her personality but do respect a workplace that require as less distractions as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wooow! I love every bit of it. This is very educating and it really matter what you wear sometimes. Your dress is a address to people around you. I got the message and would also spread the words to others.

    Thank you !

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Absolutely loved this post. I love how you write your posts. So well written.

    There is a style for everyone at work, but it’s best to keep it casual/formal. Like a pair of jeans and a blouse half tucked in. I’ve worn that to work before.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I must’ve missed this when you first posted this, Kally, but I’d like to add my support.

    When my parents were first married, my father got a job in L.A.. Soon enough, he bought a couple plane tickets, so his parents (who lived on the East Coast) could fly out and visit. As the passengers waited to depart, my grandfather asked a stewardess (yes, they still were called that back then) to snap their picture.

    The photo took in not only my grandparents, but many of the people around them. Now my grandparents dressed up, and my grandfather wore a suit; my grandmother a hat and gloves. Thing is, they weren’t noticeably overdressed. Most people onboard were attired neatly and stylishly.

    This was back in the 70s – a while ago, but not forever. Could be “casual” is much more relaxed, but there’s something to be said for a bit of vestigial refinement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with you on this. Long ago, when people fly, they treat it as a special event because flights are soooooo expensive. So they dressed up for it as a form of celebration (but then again, people during those times often dressed up as long as they were out even to restaurants.)

      Nowadays, I see slippers everywhere. I’m guilty as hell for wearing slippers as if we are on a beach. Lol!

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. And yes, I do agree we need to dress better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good tips! I like to wear comfortable clothes, but I do appreciate that certain outfits can send the wrong message to coworkers or customers. I actually avoid most slogan or logo clothing even for off-work days. There just aren’t many messages that I feel comfortable broadcasting to everyone I meet throughout the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kally, this is a post that can be published every year as a subtle reminder and it wouldn’t go astray in a few induction packs either. You have stated things perfectly. The standard of dress has always been a sore point for me. Over the years, I shouldn’t have had to point out to my directors and managers that they need to have a quiet word with one of their staff re what that person is wearing, but there you go. Sometimes, they have even been sent home to get changed. On occasions, I have had a female employee apologise when they lean over, which is highly embarrassing of course. Then there is the issue of suitable footwear – both men and women. Even from an occupational safety and health issue alone, shoes should be closed in and so on.

    As an alternative, I have always supported “Casual Friday,” and in some places we have used it as a charity fund raiser throughout the year. And of course, I wear Hawaiian or Bamboo shirts on Fridays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sean for your comment. Nobody reads the employee handbook anymore even through many handbooks nowadays are published online within the company’s intranet.

      I love Casual Fridays but of course, it is always funny to see clients in their suits and briefcases having meetings with our colleagues who are wearing Hawaiian shirts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So glad to see someone else agrees with sensible style for the office. Low-cut tops, mini skirts, tight clothing, while gorgeous on some, are simply too distracting to get much good work done. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A great post! As a woman who had to fight to be taken seriously in the workplace, it is discouraging for me to see young women today present themselves solely as sex objects. I was in management for years, and can confirm that the signals we send w/ our attire matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here. Not that women can’t choose what they want to dress. Go ahead and deck out in your sexy gear if you are going out with your friends on a night out. But not in the workplace.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. There has been done a s study about the length of skirts around the office. Apparently, the more confident a woman feels about herself, the shorter the skirt will be. I think that also applies to women in general.

    Liked by 1 person

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