What do you think of when you hear the term “professional?” Do you think of hundred dollar haircuts, thousand dollar suits and million dollar smiles? Though what you wear and how you wear it doesn’t affect how well you can do your job, unless you’re working as a model or an astronaut, it definitely will affect how well other people think you can do your job. As much as social standards on dress continue to gravitate toward an “anything goes” sort of scenario in the not so distant future, the business world will probably always remain a predominantly suit and tie setting. That’s not to say that the standards of business attire haven’t relaxed in the past few decades. Where 20 years ago you might get looks for wearing jeans to work, today nobody bats an eye unless they’re covered in rips or stains. Though you can probably get away with wearing more of your wardrobe to work that you used to, it’s important to make sure that your clothes are still giving off a professional impression.
While the sort of clothes that you wear to work varies greatly by industry and even by employer, there’s no denying that standards have loosened a bit. Where 20 or 30 years ago casual Friday meant a colorful button up or a suit without the tie, today’s casual work wear could be anything from skirts to T-Shirts, providing that they don’t give off the wrong message. In today’s workplace, as long as you look clean and presentable, how professional you seem has less to do with the articles of clothing that you’re wearing and more to do with the overall impression that your expertise and appearance project.
For women, the matter of workplace wear has always been a little more complicated. For one thing, there are just a whole lot more clothes out there for women to choose from, making the time and place to wear certain outfits a bit more tricky. For instance, is there a right situation and a wrong situation for wearing panty hose in a business environment? Well, according an article from Susan M. Heathfield, it depends on who you ask. While younger generations tend to have an aversion to hose, many from older generations believe that hose are still essential for more formal workplace events.