The dress code dilemma

Yesterday’s blog about being an honorary commuter got me thinking about office dress code.

After my initial excitement about being allowed to wear jeans in an office last week, I thought back to the last time I was allowed more casual attire at work and remembered I didn’t actually like it.

There really is no pleasing some people, is there?

But the thing is, when you can wear your weekend clothes to work they become, well, work clothes. And I don’t want to wear my work clothes in my spare time – it just makes me think about work.

The one plus point about having a smart dress code is that there is a clear differentiation in your wardrobe.

Half of it is full of sensible items which you kind of resent having to spend your own money on (make wardrobe allowances compulsory!) and the other half is things you love but don’t get enough time to wear. There might be a couple of hybrid items which cross between the two but, for the most part, there is a clear line in the sand.

One issue is that each company has very different stances on dress. It’s always awkward when you’re meeting someone from the different side of the dress code divide; whichever way it goes I always seem to feel foolish. I’ve been smartly dressed to meet someone in jeans and trainers and felt silly, and vice versa.

Part of me has always wondered whether a uniform might not be the way forward. I do some volunteer work at the weekend and am incredibly grateful that when I drag myself out of bed at 7am on Sunday morning I don’t have to give any thought to what I’m going to wear.

I’ve been provided with a company t-shirt and jumper and that is what I wear – getting dressed takes approximately three seconds. The only decision I have to make is whether to wear another layer underneath if it’s cold.

But on work days I have been known to stand and stare at my wardrobe for upwards of ten minutes. In many cases only to pull out pretty much the same outfit I wore the day before.

But whether I’m wearing jeans, shirt and trousers, or my volunteering uniform it really has no bearing on my productivity.

I could wear a black-tie ball gown on a day I’m hungover and I promise you nothing will get done. Yet, on a typical day, I’m sure I could meet a deadline dressed in pyjamas.

Things that will affect my productivity are tiredness, hunger and whether there is an episode of Game of Thrones that needs discussing. I think a lot of companies need to have a more flexible approach, people should wear what they feel most comfortable in – most of us are too interested in not getting fired to turn up in something inappropriate.

Does how you’re dressed affect how you work?

One comment

  1. It shouldn’t matter, but it does, presentation is just an added layer of conformity to societal expectations. It categorically makes NO effect on our productivity. That being said, when my hair is looking good and i’m comfortable that my outfit looks good (scruffy can look good) i tend to be more upbeat, more confident and therefore more of a success. Maybe i’m just vain.


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