02/01/2002

Experts warn on acceptable dress codes for workplace

In a business environment where the dress code seems to be ‘anything goes’, recruitment experts warn we are becoming increasingly confused about what to wear to work - should it be suited and booted or chinos and open neck shirts?

According to IT recruitment specialists Sanderson, you can’t go wrong by going back to basics. Whether male or female, if you work in an office, wearing a suit still works.

“With policies such as dress-down Fridays and a much more relaxed attitude to work dress in general, what was formerly an easy decision - suit, shirt, tie - has now become much more bewildering and easy to get wrong,” said Chris Bleakley of Sanderson Recruitment.

He continued: “We have found that less formal attitudes to dress codes have resulted in a great deal of confusion and people are no longer sure how to ‘dress to impress’. A formal business suit might seem ‘over the top’ in some workplace situations, but it will rarely do you harm. Dressing down on the other hand can often seem like you don’t really care. Adopting the casual look might be good for internal morale but it is more often than not inappropriate for meetings with clients or bosses. You and/or your company may be perceived as lacking authority and credibility, especially if your counterparts come to the meeting much more formally dressed. Casual clothing rarely projects the right image. For visitors and clients it can also be confusing - casual dress can erase the sense of hierarchy that people need to help them understand your business and how it works. Formal workwear however can increase productivity. People associate casual clothes with casual and relaxed times, like the weekend, and it can be easy to slip into that mindset at work. Many employees believe traditional work attire helps them to focus their activities and professional mindset.”

Working for a company that places thousands of IT specialists in permanent and contract positions every year, Mr Bleakley maintains there are a number of golden rules to help you dress appropriately at work.

If you are meeting a client, always be sensitive to their dress code and at least match it - if in doubt wear a suit.

Do observe dress-down days to ‘fit in’ with colleagues, but dress up most of the time.

Dressing down doesn’t mean dressing like you are going to the beach or a country walk - Friday is not Saturday.

Whether casual or formal, the right clothes should be smart and give you credibility and authority.

Think about the way you do your best work and what you wear when you do it.

Make sure your shoes are clean and polished - there is nothing like scruffy shoes to destroy your image, whether you’re wearing casual clothes or formal. (CD)

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