Every office has a dress code, and more are more offices have moved towards a less formal, more comfortable “business casual” policy. But should there be limits? I think so. Let me tell you about the office at my full time job.
Now when you first start here, you're told it’s a business casual environment. Usually you can tell who the new hires are because they are dressed well: khakis and tucked in shirts on men, women in skirts and dress pants. As they become acclimated and comfortable, and word spreads that jeans are acceptable, this casual look becomes the norm. And I myself don’t have an issue with jeans and a crisp polo or nice shirt. It's casual but presentable to a client. It's also dressy enough to remind you that you are a professional at work - a reminder to stay on your toes so to speak.
And that’s where the problem starts. I believe that if you give a person an inch, they will take a mile. So recently my work place started a committee to increase employee satisfaction. So every couple of weeks a handful of chosen representatives take time off their normal duties to gather around a lunch table and discuss ideas to make work more employee-centric. Their bright idea most recently was a coupon - to wear sweat pants.
To qualify for the coupon, you had to meet your objectives. So that does mean you are performing at an acceptable standard. But Hell has broken loose, and the women in my office have stretched the boundaries of office appropriate attire - literally. That’s because so many of them are obese. In all fairness it's typical in the modern office. When they get hired in at 22 years old they are fairly slim and trim….but years of sitting on their butts and doing nothing to maintain their appearance means the weight adds on fast. Usually within the first year of working here a newly hired girl is at least 20 pounds heavier than when she started. Now not everyone gains weight, but 8 out of ten do. And that is why I am calling for work places everywhere to adopt some old school dress policies and return to more formal attire policies. Sweat pants have no place in an office. Neither do yoga pants or UGG (as in FUGGLY) boots. I see enough of this kind of clothing when I am at the super market on Sunday afternoon.
In the images above, the man and woman understand that business casual does not mean sloppy. It means clean, wrinkle free, and presentable enough to not be showing everyone what you had for dinner last night by parading around with pizza grease on your sweat pants. The woman is wearing jeans and doing it in a classy way. If I was a prospective client, I would have no issues with how she is dressed.
Now the men in my office are not immune to poor style either. The main issue with the men at the office is the "gamer look": jeans that stopped fitting years ago, drooping off their ass, unkempt beards, and dirty t-shirts that scream late nights of World of Warcraft online. Is this the look you really want to portray to your boss? The guy who decides your yearly raise?
Now some of you will argue "I perform better when I am comfortable" and I get it and I agree. But in all honesty, does it take any longer in the morning to put on a sweater and khakis than it does a t-shirt and sweats? I really don't think so. If your clothing is so uncomfortable, maybe it's because they are the wrong size to begin with. Maybe it's time to invest in your wardrobe. I grew up with a father who tucked in his shirt and shaved everyday before going to his blue collar job. He told me dress for the job you want, not what you have. I still follow this advice. If you agree with me, that it's time for workplaces to reverse direction and become more formal, spread this post so that word gets out.
Jeremy Wright is a self described opinionated bastard. Follow him on Facebook.