NEW YORK (MainStreet) As warmer weather beckons, companies understandably want to make employees more comfortable with relaxed office dress codes that keep staffers fresh, breezy and productive. A 2012 survey from OfficeTeam says 57% of human resources managers say they offer a more relaxed dress code during the summer months.
But there's a limit on what employers will tolerate when it comes to summer office wear. In fact, 80% of executives say clothing choices are a big factor in awarding raises and promotions.
To help you make the best summer office clothing choices or to "dress for the job you want, and not the one you have" OfficeTeam offers several helpful tips:
Don't wear shorts. There's some debate about whether shorts for women are appropriate in the workplace, but not for men, OfficeTeam says so men shouldn't think of it and women should avoid wearing shorts also, to be safe. OfficeTeam advises wearing cropped pants instead, which are comfortable and professional during June, July and August.
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Don't wear sandals. It's a pity, because summer cries out for a stylish and breezy set of sandals, but OfficeTeam says they're not appropriate yet for men in the workplace and, while sandals are a "yes" for female employees, that's only for low-key models. No straps all the way up to the knee.
Don't wear sunglasses indoors. Increasingly, sunglasses have popped up on the noses of workers or on the tops of their heads. OfficeTeam calls this too informal, and says to leave the shades in the car, pocket or pocketbook.
Watch what the brass wears and emulate it. If you're unsure what to wear to work, check with your HR manager for clarification on what is OK and what is not. And look around. What is your boss wearing? What are the other executives wearing? Take a mental picture and work with that as a summer clothing blueprint.
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Always have a "Plan B." Keep a clean suit or other formal businesswear in the office or car just in case a big client shows up or you're sent out on short notice to lock down some new business. That attention to detail will get noticed by your employer and heighten your visibility in the workplace a good move for any upwardly mobile career professional.
The best-broad-based summer office wear strategy?
Always think business first and casual second. For women, opt for lightweight clothing, and keep the necklines and hemlines reasonable. For men, light, short-sleeve golf shirts are fine, along with linen or khaki pants.
In other words, keep your summer clothing choices practical and comfortable and leave the beachwear for the weekend. Your employer will thank you, and your career will too.
By Brian O'Connell