5 Mistakes People Make When They Work In a Casual Office

Starting a new job comes with its own set of challenges. From figuring out how early you need to leave to be on time (or early, preferably!) to navigating the work place itself.  The first few weeks are stressful to say the least, and on top of that, you have to worry about what to wear!

I recently started a new job at an amazing company, and they happen to have a casual dress policy.  This leaves a pretty wide range of possibilities for what to wear, which can be good and bad.  The company that I work for is a global manufacturer of veterinary diagnostic software and services, and although many of us will never see our customers face-to-face, I’ve always made a point to look presentable. For the first few weeks, I used my coworkers as a way to gauge what was acceptable for work-wear, given that I was coming from a very different environment. Until recently, when a woman walked by me wear yoga pants..

I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s absurd.  Why would someone think that yoga pants are acceptable in your place of work?  I understand that the “casual” policy is put in place for our comfort and flexibility, but as an employee, you have to know where to draw the line. It would be entirely different if we worked at a gym, dance studio, etc. But that’s not the case.  I don’t know what this woman’s job position was, but a huge part of how people view you is based upon how you choose to present yourself.  Here are the 5 mistakes people make when they work in a casual office, and how they can do things differently!

Wearing yoga pants/sweat pants |

This isn’t the gym or your bedroom, people!  Not only does this look sloppy, but it can create a poor depiction of one’s character.  If you don’t take the time to make yourself look presentable, why would I trust you to complete quality work? Even worse, what type of example are you serving for other new hires, like myself.

Try This: If your goal is to be comfortable, wear a long skirt, or tights and a knee length skirt. Believe it or not, these options are great for a “lazy” day, and they still look nice.

Wearing low-cut shirts |

There’s nothing acceptable or appropriate about wearing a low-cut shirt at work.  It’s impossible to focus on the task at hand when you have to worry whether or not someone can see your bra. Nine times out of ten, it’ll only give people a bad idea of who you are.

Try This:  Layers are your friend.  It takes 2 seconds to throw on a camisole underneath your blouse, and you won’t have to adjust your outfit all day.  I have about 5 camis in my closet just in case, and they’re great for sheer blouses as well!

Nine-inch heels |

Ok, maybe nine is an exaggeration.  But seriously, when you have to walk a good amount each day just to navigate the building, try to avoid wearing the heels you wore to Vegas last weekend. Not only will you be extremely uncomfortable after the typical 9 hour day, but it could cause some serious damage in the long run. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wear heels every day.

Try This: If you’re really dead set on heels of some sort, try out some cute wedges.  These are way more comfortable for all-day wear and you won’t be teetering around so much. Plus, they come in all different heights, leaving you with plenty of possibilities.  Another option would be flats, which are my personal favorite.  There are hundreds of great options that look stylish and professional, and they’re usually inexpensive.

Tight clothing |

Allow me to specify. By “tight” I mean too tight, a.k.a. the last time it fit you was 5 years ago.  If your reasoning is that you’ve packed on a few pounds and you’re just going to try to get by for now, stop right there.  When I see people wearing clothing that’s clearly too small, all I can think of is how uncomfortable they must be.  And if you’re fiddling with you outfit all day long, you’re just serving as a distraction for yourself and others.

Try This:  Wear a plain shirt underneath a nice blazer, with some simple, tailored pants.  If you’re worried about being too hot, pick out a loose blouse and focus on accessories. Wearing tight clothing is not going to make you look smaller in any way.

Anything ripped or stained |

We’ve all had one of those days where our coffee cup lid wasn’t on tight enough, or our favorite pair of pants finally gave way.  In those situations, it’s totally understandable.  But it’s not okay when you show up with ripped up jeans and the t-shirt you wore to paint your house last weekend.  I understand that this used to be a style (circa 2005?) but it was never meant for the workplace.

Try This: If your goal is to look edgy or “different”, simply try something new.  Pick out some brighter (or darker) colors and play around with your style.  Maybe even wear a dress from time to time!  Dress in a way that, if someone saw you in the cafeteria or the hallway they would think, “Wow, she must have an important job here.” Rather than, “Wow, is she lost?”

I know that everyone’s job varies according to what’s acceptable, and i’m in no way trying to shame anyone.  But in many cases, perception is reality.  I would never want another intelligent woman to be looked down upon for what they’re wearing, God forbid.  And when you look your best, you usually feel your best.

What mistakes have you seen people make in your own work place? 

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12 thoughts on “5 Mistakes People Make When They Work In a Casual Office

  1. I go back and forth about the whole casual look in the workplace. I agree with you that we should look presentable and perception is reality on the other hand, I feel the direction the world is headed it’s becoming more acceptable to express exactly who you are.

    I think we are still at that in between stage where it’s frowned upon to show up to work with holes in your clothes or wearing yoga pants, but give it 20 more years and it will probably be the norm.

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    1. Yeah I can see that happening. I understand people wanting to express themselves, I just think that the company paying you gets to set those guidelines whether we like it or not. If they don’t have direct contact with customers than I can see them being a bit more flexible with some things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I work in an international office that has a dress code somewhere between business professional and business casual. One girl I work with, however, ALWAYS comes in in acid-washed, ripped jeans and sometimes a matching jean jacket, which is not the office environment at all. It makes her look unprofessional and our team look unprofessional by extension.

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