Women in the Workplace: Dealing with Dress Codes

How can women in the workplace deal with dress codes? Realistically, dressing for the workplace should be pretty easy; you know the nuances of your job and, therefore the clothes that would be the most advantageous and appropriate.

However, women are often judged critically for the way that they choose to present themselves, and this scrutiny is magnified in the workplace. This can make navigating dress codes daunting for many women who worry about how they are being perceived professionally. Read on to learn more.


dress codes


The Perception of Other People

The biggest barrier for women in the workplace, for the most part, is the perception of other people. When you are getting ready for work in the morning, you need to think about how other people are going to perceive you.

What impression are you trying to make, and how does that outfit or makeup choice feed into this? Your job, the industry that you work within, and even your body type will all affect this. Two women can wear the same outfit, but their differing body types can lead to one of them being labelled as inappropriate or unprofessional.

dress codes

Common Workplace Dress Codes

There are a few dress codes that you are likely to encounter. Firstly, the casual dress code is often implemented in creative industries that may or may not be customer-facing. It is often characterised by a lack of a formal dress code. In this workplace, you can pretty much wear what you want if you use your common sense. This means thinking about the amount of skin exposed and bearing in mind that it is still a professional setting. The next step up on the levels of dress codes is business casual. This is often one of the more confusing dress codes encountered. It should be a happy medium between casual and business. For the most part, this dress code tends to be a little more professional while still being relaxed to an extent. Dark wash jeans are often okay, but no t-shirts or trainers.

Finally, a business dress code is obviously the most professional. For women, this is likely to mean dresses, skirts and blouses, although smart trousers are also often accepted.

Woman at work speaking into a headphone

When are Dress Codes Not Applicable

For the most part, the dress codes will always be enforced unless stated otherwise by the business. If they have a weekly dress-down day or a casual day, then you can assume that the dress code is enforced outside of this one instance. If you are working outside of the normal operating hours of the business, then the dress code might not apply. This is because you are less likely to come into contact with other colleagues or customers. Finally, the dress codes are not always enforced during training days. Although this will depend on the training and whether it is practical and hands-on or an e-learning course like the ones from iHASCO.

dress codes

To Summarise

A business will choose to implement a dress code for any number of reasons, and you need to remember that as an employee, you are a reflection of that business and the values that it holds. For women in the workplace, it can often feel like a battle between fashion and function. Ideally, you will be able to marry the two, but if not, your comfort should always come first.


Read More; What Are Your Clothes Saying About You?

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