I just love it when spring comes to Minnesota! The sunshine and warmer temperatures seem to put everyone in a good mood. People are no longer huddled up against the cold and rushing for their bus or car - they have time to stroll at a slower pace, give eye contact, and smile more. The parkas and sweaters go into storage for a few months and out come the summer clothes. And this my dear colleagues is the time of year when we need to take an honest inventory of what we are wearing to work.
Intelligent Career Management says that the preferred style of dress across industries and positions tends to be conservative in nature. Alas, in summer, many folks forget this and drift to an ultra-casual style that is at best unprofessional, and at worst distracting and/or even unattractive. And, while I try as hard as possible to avoid sweeping gender generalizations in my work, it pains me to admit that women are more likely than men to err in this area. If you happen to be searching for a job and going on interviews during summer, this is something to be especially careful of because how you dress says a lot about your sense of judgment.
I have my own pet peeves about summer business attire and I have polled a few of my clients about their's. Interestingly enough, what I found was that many of them will never tell a candidate or an employee that they think their clothing is getting in the way of their career, but they will remember and factor it into hiring/promotion decisions. So here, in a nutshell, is what your boss won't tell you about your summer attire:
- Flip-flops are absolutely unacceptable under any circumstance. They scream "I am at work under protest - I would rather be on vacation."
- Dressy sandals can sometimes be okay if you have nice looking feet and a professional pedicure. If you do not have time to get a pedicure or re-fresh the one you got 3 weeks ago, then cover your feet up.
- Bare legs are acceptable if they are tan. If they are bruised and veiny, keep them covered.
- Spaghetti straps are a no-no as are most tank tops. Generally, the shoulders should be covered.
- Once the turtlenecks are put away for summer, lower necklines can be okay, but showing any cleavage (any at all - even a hint of it) is not okay.
- White trousers, skirts and tops are cool and refreshing in the summer - but ask a trusted colleague to tell you honestly if your undergarments are showing through.
- Suntan lotion is not appropriate perfume for the office.
- Shorts typically do not belong in the office. Not even knee-length Bermuda shorts.
- Golf shirts should have collars and plackets that lay flat.
- Shorts - never
- Sandals - never
- Mandals - never
- Don't be too quick to skip the short-sleeve undershirt in favor of a "beater" or nothing just because it's warmer out. Many men find they are actually cooler with a tee-shirt under their shirt, and they can help casual clothes look a little more professional by minimizing the appearance of perspiration.
You may not like these tips. You may feel that they are discriminatory, or that people should accept you for the work you do and not for what you look like. You may think that I am old fashioned and that Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers have established a new protocol in the workplace. You may be right - I may just work for old fashioned clients. My intention here is not to discuss the philosophy of dress and appearance in the workplace. I am just telling you the truth about what I hear managers say, so if you are thinking about moving up in your career, these are tips might be helpful for you.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for successful summer dressing that you would like to add? Please leave us a comment and share what's on your mind!