When the weather gets warmer, you may notice employees tweaking their usual office ensembles to fit the summer season. While employees should be able to dress comfortably, it’s still important that they dress professionally. So how do you find that balance in the workplace?
It may be uncomfortable to confront an employee about inappropriate outfit choices, but that can be avoided by having a set dress code in place. Keeping an open line of communication is the best way to enforce the dress code and clarify exactly what is acceptable to wear to work, and what should be left at home. The following guidelines for proper business casual attire can help you to establish or refine your company’s dress policy.
Sleeves are an element of clothing that is often altered or ditched altogether for the summer season. While T-shirts do not belong in mostworkplaces, short sleeves are fine on blouses and button-downs or polos. Tanks tops are where it gets tricky. Spaghetti straps alone are usually not permitted, and are better off layered under a cardigan or blazer. Other summer trends to avoid in the work place are crop tops, off-the-shoulder tops, halter tops, tube tops and anything backless.
Dresses, Skirts and Pants
Although dress pants are a common office staple throughout the year, dresses and skirts are a girl’s best friend during the summertime. They are cool, comfortable and “dressy” enough to wear to work. However, unless one opts for a maxi style, length can be an issue and should not be any shorter than mid-thigh. Tight-fitting dresses and skirts of materials like spandex should be avoided. Capri pants are another office-friendly way to stray from the traditional pair of trousers, as long as they come below the knee.
Shoes are another part of the outfit that changes with the seasons. Many people switch from boots to more revealing footwear such as sandals. While many sandals are fine for the office, flip flops are not encouraged. Loafers are also a suitable way to switch it up from the traditional dress shoe.
When speaking with employees about the dress code, keep their comfort in mind. Instead of just telling them what they can’t wear, recommend alternatives:
- Lighter fabrics rather than revealing garments, such as cotton or satin
- Layering for clothing that show too much skin on their own
- Bright colors and fun patterns befitting the season rather than of less clothing
Some people may find it more difficult than others to dress for summer while maintaining a professional appearance. Keep in mind that ideas about what is appropriate may differ between employees, and refer to your official dress code to steer them in the right direction.