By Keith Auerbach
Discussing women’s fashion and attire in the workplace can lead to a discussion with Human Resources, especially in some places with outdated ideas and policies. Still, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look sharp and professional, regardless of gender. Knowing what to wear when, and how to look good doing it, is a useful trick to know in any business for anyone on the job.
Traditional formal fashion between the genders has differed in two specific aspects: ties and skirts. In some realms, women wearing ties is expected, usually in school uniforms. In modern times, both ties for women and pants instead of skirts are generally acceptable. Places where skirts are required for women tend to veer away from proper formal attire. The basics, of course, remain the same. A suit or formal outfit, depending on the job’s requirements, remain excellent options. Always remember, though, that heels are terrible and should feel terrible.
Semi-dress, also known as semi-formal, can be tricky to pin down because it can vary on the occasion and, unfortunately, the gender. For women, semi-dress usually means, well, a dress. In modern times suits, just as with men, are often acceptable as well. A skirted suit would work, too, depending on the job. Knowing the job’s dress code is important, though in places where semi-dress is permitted it’s less likely to be a safety issue. Still, it never hurts to check. The main difference between formal and semi-dress is you can reduce the number of layers and take off the suit jacket once you’re at your desk.
Casual attire at work often depends on the job and whether or not it is Friday. For some places, it means you can wear blue jeans and a sports jersey, especially in the fall or spring. For other locations, it can mean dress slacks and either a polo or buttoned shirt. Skirts and dresses are usually acceptable as well, though, as usual, it depends on the job and the dress code. Generally, casual Fridays tend to allow more leeway than a casual business atmosphere, such as the sports team outfit during gaming season. So while some places might expect slacks or a skirt and polo as general attire, Fridays you might be allowed to wear more or less what you would on a trip to the grocery store, within reason.
Knowing what to wear at work can be tricky for both genders, but women have old-fashioned double standards to shake on top of that. Still, there’s nothing wrong with looking sharp. A suit or formal day dress has a place, as do blue jeans and polo shirts. Wherever you work, be familiar with the dress code, wear comfortable shoes, and keep any jewelry to a tasteful and safe minimum. Watches are almost always acceptable, though smart watch usage might depend on company policy. Either way, make sure to know the codes so that you can look professional and, most importantly, be comfortable for the shift.
Keith B. Auerbach writes for a variety of websites including Fox Hills Mall