As workplaces evolve, dress codes evolve. As we’ve seen on historically themed shows such as Mad Men, over the past fifty years, what’s deemed acceptable to wear at work has shifted- drastically. Men are ditching their ties, and women are tossing their heels to the curb.
Traditional dress codes such as business formal, dressy casual, business casual have all but lost their meaning. When Northwestern University’s national championship women’s lacrosse players visited the White House in 2005, they caused quite a stir. Many players chose to wear flip flops, offending many with their inappropriate choice of footwear.
For a moment, let’s sympathize with them. In today’s society, what’s appropriate for work, school, or special occasions has become extremely unclear. In order to remain modern and innovative, companies are choosing to be more casual, starting with their dress code.
In order to clear up the confusion, we’ve compiled a list of traditional dress codes. Here’s an updated analysis of appropriate work wear. Modern dress codes, translated:
- Casual- When your new boss says the dress code is “casual”, he or she means exactly that. Casual. That means blue jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts should be acceptable. However, in the interest of remaining professional, it’s important not to take cues from overly laid-back wardrobe choices of co-workers. According to this infographic about workplace attire, ripped jeans, flip flops, and short skirts should never be worn to work.
- Business Casual- This is a tricky one to decipher. For women, this means cardigans, ironed pants, and nice blouses. For men, this means khaki pants, button downs, polo shirts. You may want to inquire about the possibility of ordering corporate apparel with the company logo printed or embroidered on it. Also, remember that clothes should fit well. Even if you’re wearing a nice blouse, if it’s two sizes too large, it won’t achieve a professional look. Follow this rule of thumb: when dressing “business casual”, dress as if you were going to a nice restaurant, a job interview, or to going church.
- Business Formal- Business formal means formal. Suits, ties, and pristine collared shirts are the right choice for men. For ladies, well-tailored dresses, suits, or blazers with matching pants will work. This eHow article about business formal attire also recommends simple jewelry for women, and cufflinks for men. Don’t forget that usually, business formal also applies to your choice of hairstyle and makeup. Chipped nail polish, bright eye shadow, or poor hygiene is generally frowned upon.