Yeah, tell us… we’d like to know, what do you wear to work? It’s one of those interesting-not really important-but still relevant kind of things that we like to know and read about. I just chanced upon this article which talks about office wear gaffes, particularly in summer. And it turns out, we–at DropCap Media–are guilty of at least two of these so-called dressing no-nos: mine personally are messy buns and flip flops. I have been lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective of course) enough to work in places with no official dress code or (scary thought!) uniforms. And generally, the ‘creative types’ usually get away with most modes of dressing.
Of course, there are industries and sectors which mandate a dress code, particularly for the sake of safety (firemen and miners, for instance), identification as a professional in a certain field (nurses and policemen), and perhaps to foster a sense of belonging and equality. Dress codes are also most often industry-specific: an accountant and a graphic designer will most likely don highly different styles of clothing. Or at least, that is what popular media tells us. If the script says ‘accountant’, it could typically be a nerdy kind of guy, complete with spectacles, pinstriped shirt, grey trousers and Oxford shoes. And of course, the graphic designer will be styled with wacky hair and an outfit that spells ‘bordering on outrageous’. And of course, if the said designer dons spectacles, they are likely to fall in the ‘geek chic’ genre.
So when Mark Twain said ‘clothes maketh the man’, he seems to have been pointing the way forward to generations of writers, novelists and film-makers, not to mention scores of HR policy makers. But is it right to bring a cookie-cutter approach to clothing? Would people be happier at work if they were allowed to dress the way they love? And let us, for the sake of civilised argument, exclude all those dressing styles that are generally considered excessive, indecent or exhibitionist. What about the office-goer who prefers knee-length shorts to pants on the hottest days of summer? Or the young lady who would rather wear a jeans and a tee instead of a full-on corporate suit? By forcing them to fit into a certain mould for something as uniquely personal as dress sense, do we take away from the sheer joy of loving the work they do?
I don’t have any answers to that; here, at DropCap, there’s only one rule when it comes to dressing, and that applies only when we meet clients or have networking events to attend: wear smart casuals or semi-formals. On most days, we experiment with our clothes as much as we do with our writing. And since I have mostly worked at places that focused more on work than workwear, and never found the need to impose a dress code on me, I have never stressed over what to wear to work. Does it work because our jobs are mostly desk-bound? Even I, admittedly, don formal wear and the right accessories for a client meet.
So is an official dress code all about dressing to impress, or dressing to conform?
Would you rather wear a uniform or dress your way when it comes to office wear? Does attire make or break a working man/woman? Do share your opinions here.