Christine Lucy, Senior Vice President Robert Half International
MyFox Job Shop - The way you dress for work is an indication of your professionalism, but the concept of relaxed business attire – a common workplace trend in the summer – has many employees wondering just how casual is too casual. The answer could affect your career.
In a survey of executives by our company, 93 percent said a person's style of dress at work influences his or her chance of earning a promotion. Among those respondents, one-third said on-the-job attire significantly affects an employee's advancement prospects. If you work in a formal office setting, it's best to err on the conservative side when selecting an outfit for work.
Following are five fashion faux pas to avoid:
1. Sheer clothing. Your clothing should never be overly revealing. Watch out for materials like linen and chiffon that can be transparent.
2. Flip-flops/inappropriate footwear. Flip-flops are almost never appropriate in an office environment. In some cases, open-toed sandals are OK for women, but check your company's dress code to be sure.
3. Midriff-baring shirts and low-rise pants. In general, you want to avoid any article of clothing that shows too much skin.
4. Sundresses. If you work in a professional environment, a sundress can seem out of place. Instead, wear sheath dresses or skirts and blouses.
5. T-shirts. T-shirts are rarely appropriate in an office environment, particularly those that contain political or other controversial messages.
So, what should you wear to work? Following are a few simple guidelines that can ensure you're dressed appropriately for the job:
Play it safe. Clothing should never be distracting. Think of it this way: Would a colleague spend more time focused on what you're wearing versus what you're saying? If so, your attire is probably not appropriate for work.
Observe others. The old rule — dress for the position to which you aspire — still holds true. Notice the way your manager and coworkers dress each day and incorporate the same style.
Pay attention to details. From head to toe, your appearance should be polished and neat. Make sure your clothes are free of wrinkles and stains, and they fit you properly. Your hair should be in place, and jewelry and accessories should be subtle. Avoid excessive makeup and use cologne or perfume minimally.
Keep in mind that these guidelines also apply if you're looking for a job. In fact, when you're interviewing for a position, it's even more important that you dress the part. Err on the conservative side and make sure your clothing reflects the level of professionalism you'll bring to the job.
In any season, the operative word in "business casual" is "business." No matter what the weather, your dress gives others a sense of your credibility and judgment, so be sure to send the right message by maintaining a sensible summer work wardrobe.
Founded in 1948, Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm and member of the S&P 500. For more information, visit www.roberthalf.com or call 800.474.4253.