Offering advice on how to dress for the job is taking a risk. As ana ex-HR Director I know only too well. Telling someone a backless top is not appropriate in an office or that they must wear high heels? You get the point.
But someone has decided that if you want to work in “the city” there are certain things you can and can’t get away with.
- Wearing brown shoes – or blue shoes or suede shoes or trainers or flip-flops – I could go on
- Wearing a belt that’s a different colour from your shoes
- Wearing socks a different colour from your underpants (I made that up but I know someone who always matched)
- Wearing heels the wrong height – not too short and not too tall
- Wearing a skirt that’s too short i.e. above the knee
- Wearing a white shirt (says you’re playing safe and insecure apparently)
- On the other hand wearing an Hawaiian shirt (says you’ve no taste)
- Wearing a shirt with a pocket (only Dilberts wear those)
- Wearing a brightly patterned tie
- Showing too much cleavage
- Wearing dangly ear-rings or anklets
- Wearing tattoos especially sleeves or on the neck or face
- Wearing piercings
- Showing a t-shirt under your shirt (unless you’re a corbynista)
OK I made some of these up but does anyone really know the truth?
And can you hide some of the taboo stuff on the list?
According to a study of 2,000 British workers by a personalised telephone case company 20% of employees up to their mid-30s say having a splash of colour helped them get a promotion or a pay rise.
I’m not sure how they know that but wearing colourful clothes will make you stand out, and might help you to give the impression that you are more confident or creative. (1 in 3 British workers said they felt more positive wearing brighter clothes and 1 in 4 said it made them feel more confident).
Surely it all depends on where you work and the prevailing standards. If you work in a fashion or creative industry then it will be like a peacock’s tea-party and you might be better off wearing plain black a la Steve Jobs.
Experts (not sure who) cited Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and John Snow, the newsreader as high flyers known for wearing a splash of colour to make a positive statement. I can think of dozens of other high flyers who prefer a staid, although probably expensive, corporate look.