In a previous tech job, the company’s team-building manager pulled me aside the day before our off-site. “Just wanted to let you know tomorrow’s activities require some running around. You’re always so well-dressed, but it will be a jeans-and-sneakers type of day,” I was advised.-Ruchika Tulshyan
I always find the word casual to be very subjective. It can span from jeans with holes or rips, t-shirts, athletic wear, shorts, flip flops, tanks tops and clothes that are too tight or revealing or with undergarments clearly visible… where do we draw the line? Of course, certain industries require you to dress up, but a large majority of companies have embraced casual attire. The key to a successful dress code I believes lies in each business setting common sense limits and considering the needs of your work environment and profession. As I’ve gotten to more senior roles, I’ve found myself dressing the part a bit more, it allows me to feel confident, comfortable, and in charge (nothing more hilarious than sitting in a school having the principal call you in, because she thinks you’re the kid in trouble and not the resolver…it has happened!) Dress so they can relate. At work as well as at career-oriented activities, dressing in formal career attire increases my productivity and sharpens my manners and interpersonal skills. I quickly learned that what’s good for work is good for off-duty as well. I will often ask myself before purchasing a piece “Can this piece transcend from therapy session, to groups, to classroom, outreach. Could I wear it on my day off? Can I pair it with three other items I own?” If the answer is yes, I am more likely to purchase it. After all, good quality clothes are expensive. With this method I have built a bright, colorful (I am a woman who loves color. It’s more important to stay true to your own self than force yourself to be someone you’re not.) wardrobe over the years that consists of many skirts (I love these by Modcloth .YES, I own every color. You can truly dress them up and down, they’re easy to move in, and they have pockets).
I also love dresses (and to quote my dear friend Abby “lots and lots of dresses 37 at last count”). I like to get dressed in 10 minutes or less, so I am not huge on separates. I can dress up or down depending on the boots or shoe. I understand for some workers, wearing the same type of clothes in and out of the office is troublesome (am I the only one who had to change out of their school clothes after school?). It becomes hard to distinguish between their “work” and “off work” selves. Does your office have a casual work culture? What does that mean? Do you feel more or less productive based on what you wear? What are your rituals to get out of work mode?