As a Human Resources professional, I see all kinds of clothing coming in and out of the office every day. As a style enthusiast, sometimes I wish I didn’t.
Austin is notoriously laid-back when it comes to, well, a lot of things. In the high-tech/software world and in many offices of other industries, there aren’t any explicit rules when it comes to what to wear (and what not to wear) to work. With no written dress code, all cues have to be taken from those around us (a few past real-life examples I’ve captured of killer workplace style can be found here, here and here.)
The cardinal rule of this non-rule: just because you can wear anything you want to work doesn’t mean you should. Case in point: I see people in hoodies, flip-flops, and shorts at work every day. I know nothing about who they are and what they do, all I know is they’re ‘the guy who always wears an NFL jersey to work’ or ‘the girl who thought it’d be OK to wear a strapless dress in the office’ (both are real characters). The sayings ‘dress one job/pay grade up’ or ‘dress for the job you want, not for the job you have’ are absolutely true, even in a work environment without a formal description of what to wear.
Here’s a list of articles of clothing that one should not, under any circumstances, wear to the office:
- cargo shorts
- actually, shorts of any kind
- anything strapless
- hats indoors
- sports jerseys
- anything mesh
So now that I’ve laid out a series of ‘don’t’s, what to do? Over the past week, I looked around and found some examples of my own co-workers who kill it in the style department on the regular. Here are just a few:
See? Guys and girls, it can be done. These folks have managed to be both put-together and laid-back all in one fell swoop. If you’re ever unsure as to whether a particular item in your closet may be too casual for the workplace, my advice would be to air on the safe side and save it for the weekend. Comfort needn’t be sacrificed for sharp workplace style. Three out of the above four looks involve jeans, and I wouldn’t call any of them inappropriate for the workplace. ‘Casual’ does not equal ‘sloppy’, at least in a work environment.
Do you work in an office without a dress code? I’d love to hear about your go-to wear-to-work style in the comments!