A couple of weeks ago, I was on a walk with my friends Haley and Violet. I was telling them all about my job, and they were wondering with gleam as to whether or not I would be dressing like a starting out woman in a glam pencil skirt circa any early 2000’s New York City-set movie featuring a female starting out. Their expectations of my work dress code were anything by accurate. My job, in fact, has NO dress code! Just a mere 5 years ago, this may come as a shock to many to even think of setting foot into your office doors without even considering a workplace dress code. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset expansion of work-from-home and folks wearing sweatpants and pajama pants over trousers, no dress codes for work have become the norm.
Before I get into how I dress for work without a particular dress code in mind, I need to throw out there that there are times where I do have to abide by a certain dress code. These instances may be when I am presenting, in a meeting for a particular topic/occasion/even a person, or an event. On the same token, it is important to note that when most offices, including my own, do not specify a formal dress code, it is important to dress to the environment that you are working from. If everyone is in suits and ties, then you may consider a pantsuit. The same goes for t-shirts and jeans, well, if that is your cup of tea. Similarly, it is extremely vital that one does not show up just as if they were to have gotten out of bed to go into the office or hop onto a Zoom meeting with their video camera on. No matter if you’re in a t-shirt or a blazer and blouse, the way that you present and carry yourself goes far and will reflect on you in the workplace.
HOW I DRESS FOR WORK WHEN THERE’S NO FORMAL DRESS CODE
- Adding in my own flair – Since I do not have a formal dress code protocol that I have to follow day by day, I can seriously add my own flair to my work outfits as much or as little as I want to. I can truly be Katie and show it with my work looks. I have always been one to love seeing how people spice up their work looks, whether on social media, in movies, or simply in the office. Inspiration comes from a variety of different angles for me, and I love to add my own twist to something that someone else did as well.
- Dress in the way you’ll be the most productive – You may have heard the saying “dressed for success”. Indeed, many of us feel as if we can take on the world when we get all dressed up and feel the most confident in how we look, in order to get the job done. Personally, this rings true to me! I am more productive when I am dressed up rather than in leggings and a t-shirt and/or hoodie. However, that does not mean that when it’s Friday, I may wear just that! I know some folks would much rather be comfortable in a t-shirt and sweats than all dressed up and that’s great, too. However you’re the most productive with what you wear is how you should go about doing it all.
- Dress according to the environment – One of the best ways that I have gauged how to dress in the workplace is simply by what others are wearing. In the few times that I have been into the office, I have noticed that people are more likely to get dressed up than not. So, I replicate that concept for myself too.
- Overdressed >>> Underdressed – being overdressed can be mortifying in some situations, such as walking onto a school bus in an elegant floor length gown, but in the case of going to work it is not. Though I would not advise wearing a floor length formal gown to work, wearing something that is a bit more overdressed than others (such as a blazer/suit) is always a bonus. Especially when you are starting out on the job, dressing up a bit more than your coworkers allows you to make a good impression and show off your best self, too!
- Be YOU and have fun! – Above all else, be YOU! Add hints of yourself into your work wardrobe. Actually, right before I started my job, I put together a rolling rack of outfits to pull from for my first few weeks. I still use it, and it’s a fun way to put together a variety of outfits from pieces that I may not normally wear which at the moment for me are my Lilly Pulitzer Kristen flounce dresses. The persona that I wanted to portray about myself through my work wardrobe is that she can get business done with a sprinkle of confetti! That being said, I pulled from a lot of my J Crew Factory scalloped shifts, Ouges dresses that I got for a steal off of Amazon, Lands’ End shifts and maxi’s, and even added some of my favorite brand Lilly Pulitzer into the mix. Through it all, I even wore a t-shirt, *yes* a t-shirt to work from home, too!
- Be mindful of your schedule and work-related events – Dress code or not, being mindful of your work schedule and the correspondence that may be coming from it is key. If you are in a meeting or attending an event which may require that you dress in a manner that does involve a dress code, then it is imperative that you do so while adding a bit of personal flair in a different way than a typical day, too.
- Have some business causal clothing on-hand – Yes, despite not having a workplace dress code on the regular, I still have some business casual clothing items on hand. Business casual clothing items being a blazer, trousers, little black dress, little grey dress, tweed jackets, pencil skirts, etc. is an important thing to note. I found a lot of my favorite business causal pieces at Lands’ End and J Crew along with Marshall’s/TJ Maxx. While I don’t need to wear them on a regular basis, I still try to put them into my wardrobe here and there and where I need them, too.
What you wear to work is apart of your day to day life. In fact, it plays a more important role in our lives than we can even imagine! I mean, we get dressed and we set off on our days from there. Why not make that time into something that can add to your confidence and comfort, especially within the workplace?! I surely have and I hope you can as well.
XOXO – Katie <3