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Does Your Work Attire Really Make a Difference?

By Ben Kubicek,

Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is out of the office.

I have worked for a number of different companies, and they all had different requirements for what you could/should wear to work. In one position I had early on in my career, I was deep inside the depths of the IT department. The people were pretty casual and most people wore jeans. After a few years at this position I started to wear shorts to work. No one said it was okay, but no one said I couldn’t wear them either. I still wore a nicer (polo) type shirt, I never saw clients, I did good work, and nobody bothered me about it. Later, when I did consulting for a few years I had to dress nicer, but even then, with some longer assignments I eventually wore nicer jeans with a polo shirt.

My very first job required business attire, but they had causal Fridays. It was always a little strange seeing co-workers in “normal” clothes at work. It was kind of like seeing a co-worker outside of the workplace in jeans and a tee-shirt.

I have a co-worker, where one of his first jobs was a tech support position on the phone all day long. They required their tech support people to wear ties because they believed people wearing ties would be more professional on the phone. I am not exactly sure how that worked for the women employed there. If you asked him, he would say wearing a tie didn’t help him be any more professional on the phone, although I don’t think he likes wearing ties much.

I have another friend in consulting that has to dress up, and he feels strongly that it helps create a more professional environment. I guess that does make sense in consulting. How disrespectful would it be for a consultant to show up all disheveled to a meeting with their customer?

My current position is in a corporate office. Everyone is required to wear business attire. So, a nice collared shirt, nicer pants (not jeans), and a number of people wear nicer shoes. When I got this job I had to invest some serious money into my work wardrobe.

So the question is: does it matter? I feel like dressing nicer at work on one hand is a pain. I have to launder my work clothes differently to make sure they stay nice and don’t become a wrinkled mess. On the other hand, I do feel a little more professional at work. It seems strange that what I wear could have a positive effect, but it seems like it does. Would I prefer to just be able to wear shorts to work again? Sure, but I think in my current corporate office environment it just wouldn’t work.

Share what you get to wear at your workplace. Do you think dressing in nicer attire would positively affect your work environment?

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