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How-To: Not Dress for Spring and Summer at Work!

Well folks it is starting to be that time again in Washington, DC, when everyone starts taking off their clothes and showing their bodies. So in preparation for this event in the workplace. Just think about this “How Not to Dress no-no” (not good for your professional image).

We are coming into the seasons of wearing sandals and all sorts of open toe shoes. Please, please clean your feet first. It was a hard winter in metro DC and your feet might need a good pedicure or even a good soaking for the beginnig of the season. Why bother? No one wants to look at your unkempt, dirty and ragged toenails and crusty heels. Old School folks, in particular, might associate the unkept feet with your attitude toward your personal self image and maybe professionalism. I know, I know what difference does it make. Well, you always want to keep a competitive edge. You are always want to look sharp and well groomed. Ready for the next step!!! Good grooming is a part of your professional presence – your professional brand.

Another no-no — no flip flops at work. Grant you while flip-flops may be great for home and the beach, they are not appropriate in most workplaces within the federal government. When I see you in flip flpos it makes me think you don’t care how you look at work – you don’t care what image you project about yourself to others and yourself. In fact, flip flops are not appropriate for a visit to the White House. Check out the sign outside the West Wing at http://www.ehow.com/how_4671510_tour-west-wing-white-house.html

Lady Dianne

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Amanda Blount

Good post and great reminders. I wear a uniform every day, so it is easy for me. But, no matter what a person wears, it is always nice to remember, others will be looking at you from top to bottom and perception is everything.

Scott Horvath

I think attitudes and tolerances for much of the Gen X, and younger workforce, have changed. Personally, I believe there are certain instances where you must dress your best. If you’re going to The Hill (Capitol Hill for you non-DC folks) then you better wear nothing less than a suit. If you’re visiting the White House. If you often work with new clients or customers, or are physically out and about in the public and networking with folks…and even giving presentations to a large audience. You should certainly look your best.

However, when you’re in your daily routine job (especially if you’re sitting behind your desk) and the interactions you have are with the same people each day then there’s no reason why you can’t wear jeans and a shirt. It’s also VERY dependent on the culture of where you work. I work in an organization where many employees do work outside. You’ll often see those people in jeans, sandals, even shorts. And when there’s a large percentage of your workforce that dresses casual then it becomes acceptable to dress the same…it’s a work-cultural thing.

Bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to dress code. If you were to come visit me at work today, you would’ve seen me in my jeans, striped t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Does that mean I can’t do my job? Does it mean I’m an unimportant person? Absolutely not. My skill is my ability to do my job, do it beyond what’s required, and do it because I love the work. My skill is not how I need to dress in order to impress someone else. I dress for what feels comfortable, but still appropriate. Yes I wear jeans and a t-shirt, or polo shirt, etc…but you won’t find them wrinkled as if they were pulled out of a laundry bin…they’re always wrinkle free. I might dress casual but I don’t look like a bum.

If I was going to hire someone for a position, no matter what it was, I personally would not care if they were business casual…or casual dressers. As long as they can show that they can do the job, do it well, and do it because they love that kind of work…they’re hired. If there’s times when they need to dress up to go somewhere then they’ll know that and I’ll be sure to let them know myself.

If you don’t judge a book by it’s cover then why judge an employee by their clothes? Many do not agree with my views on dress and that’s perfectly acceptable. And maybe my views don’t fit 95% of the “norm”…whatever that means. But, for me, I tend to look at other factors of a person’s work ethic over the way they dress. That’s what is important and I’m not going to let the outside view cover the inside knowledge.

Peter Sperry

@Scott — Hill/Suit/Recess — The Hill is where they coined the word “skinterns” to describe the dress code of summer help. Once the members leave town in August, some chiefs of staff seem content if the younger workers wear clothes at all. Of coures, I’ve also seen chiefs whose recess dress code could have been improved by a few less rips in thier jeans.

Rachel Correll

I’ve definately noticed a relaxed atmosphere in work wear. When I started my current job, (even though it is casual since clients are rarely in our office) I dressed up most of the time. I’m now nearing my 4th year at the company and shorts have now been approved to wear to work. I find myself dressing down more often and dressing up only on occassion. I guess it is nice to be given the option to choose instead of it having a strick dress code. However, I do believe that you should know when it is necessary to dress up. Better to be overdressed than underdressed.