On a warm day, it’s an easy temptation to head to work in flip-flops and shorts.
As it is, many younger workers have a tendency to dress more casually. That attire may not be as professional as, say, the Baby Boomer. “In the summer months, they have a propensity to take things a bit further,” says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president at the career management consultancy Keystone Associates in Southborough, Mass. But unless you work in an ultra-casual environment, it may be best to restrain.
Many organizations of all sizes have become more casual in dress over the years, and many start-ups include their company culture a certain degree of informality in attire. Yet it’s still necessary to come off as professional and polished.
Mattson’s rule of thumb is to always dress as if you’ll see or meet the chief executive or company owner. Make a habit of asking yourself how you would feel if spotted by the head boss.
You should match the industry and position you are in and ask yourself, “Am I dressed appropriately if a client came in today unexpectedly?”
“Men have it a heck of a lot easier,” Mattson says. Their biggest violation is wearing shorts, which Mattson urges everyone to avoid, even if the shorts are long.
Summer can be fun, she says, as long as you keep it simple to minimize the probability of going over the top. Here are other dos and don’ts from Mattson.
• Do look at what the managers are wearing as a guide of what is acceptable in your particular company.
• Don’t wear anything that you would to the beach, from flip flops to summer hats.
• Do wear Capri pants if you can dress them up with a jacket and/or scarf.
• Don’t wear sandals that are too high or straps that wrap around the leg.
• Don’t show cleavage any time of the year.
• Do keep skirts and dresses at an appropriate length (usually no shorter than 3 inches above the knee to maintain a professional look).
• Do wear summer clothes like sleeveless tops and flowing skirts and blouses.
• Don’t wear flashy jewelry.
• Do wear linen, but iron to avoid looking too wrinkled.
• Don’t wear tops that might be too transparent or see-through.
• Do look in the mirror before leaving for work and think about how others might perceive you.
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