Inappropriate Work Attire: What It Is and How to Address It

  • April 01, 2018
  • Uniforms
  • Ideal Linen

The issue of what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate work attire is tricky. One person’s casual may be another person’s business casual and vice versa. And the gray area in between is a wide blur.

It’s pretty hard to define whether black denims can pass off for ‘trousers’ or how many inches past the knee is considered too short.

While more and more companies are completely foregoing the whole dress code thing in favor of a more casual look, others have even moved past the idea that what one wears is telling of how well one works. But there is still a good case for the discussion of whether an ensemble is acceptable, tacky, or just downright inappropriate work attire for doing business. Not to mention, there is still the whole issue of customer perception and how much of what employees wear affect customer satisfaction, opinion, and overall attitude towards not just the employee but the brand as a whole.  

Where should the line be drawn when it comes to inappropriate work attire and freedom of expression?

Inappropriate Work Attire: A General Consensus

inappropriate work attire

Many experts on clothinghuman resource, and employment have weighed in on what would generally be considered inappropriate and we’ve put them together on this list to help you and your employees find the middle ground and ease the tension and confusion surrounding work attire.

Here are a few things to watch out for:

+ Shorts. Shorts, whether at the knee and especially above the knee are an absolute no-no. Unless you are running a summer campaign in a fashion house or a little snack shack by the beach, shorts are too casual for any business or work setting.

+ Strapless, halter, and spaghetti strap tops. Tops of these styles are considered too informal.

+ Too much décolletage. While a little V-neck top is harmless, the generally acceptable dip on the neckline should stop when it reveals soft tissue or chest hair (for men).

+ Short skirts. The acceptable length of skirt dips just a little above the knee but should not reveal the upper thighs.

+ Flip-flops and slides. These footwear types are better off reserved for summer runs to the grocery and the beach and are not acceptable in any workplace.

+ Bare midriffs. Showing too much skin is generally frowned upon.

+ Sweatpants and yoga pants or leggings. Not only are they unsightly to wear outside of the home, they are also very informal.

+ Sneakers. Unless required for work, sneakers are not appropriate.

+ Hoodies and sweatshirts. Hoodies and sweatshirts are more appropriate for home and not for the workplace. Proper jackets, coats, and cardigans are good, work-appropriate alternatives.

How to Fix Problems with Work Attire

inappropriate work attire

With so much confusion and controversy surrounding appropriate and inappropriate work attire, business owners can try out the following approaches to solve this all-too-common problem:

+ Enforce a dress code. Make the dress code straightforward, listing down what is considered work-friendly and inappropriate. Being too general as opposed to being specific about what you consider appropriate might worsen the confusion. Also, make sure your code isn’t directed toward one gender in particular.

+ Set an example. Employees take their cue from their bosses. Whatever you wear for work is almost always taken as an example for what they can wear too.

+ Sign up for a uniform rental program. Uniforms are your most foolproof solution to inappropriate work attire. With uniforms, your employees are always clothed appropriately for work and they are also representing your business wherever they are, especially when they have to face your clients.

Get Your Work Uniforms from Ideal Linen and Uniform Today!

inappropriate work attire

Ideal Linen and Uniform is your one-stop for high-quality uniforms. They come in a variety of sizes, designs and colors and can be customized to bear your company name and logo. Contact 800-658-4047 today to speak with a consultant or get a free quote!


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