Last week I woke up really early. 5am to be exact. Not a time I would usually crawl out of bed, but last Monday was special. I jumped out… well, it was more like an enthusiastic roll!
I got ready and was out the the door by 6am.
I didn’t want to be late.
When I arrived at the CBC studios for an interview on Metro Morning I was early. Feeling confident. Only a hint of nerves.
It was my first time on the radio and we spoke about appropriate business attire for women – a hot topic.
Women love to push the boundaries, especially in the summer. For example, you will often see women wearing tank style dresses and tops without the accompanying jacket or cardigan they would normally wear in cooler months. This look often breaks their office dress code.
So, how much of your shoulder is too much to bare?
Appropriate summer business attire for women varies based on your company dress code, corporate culture and your desire to please.
If your company has a dress code you need to get your hands on a copy. Ask your manager or HR rep. You could say, “I would like to brush up on the dress code requirements for our office. Would you please send me a copy of the current dress code.” They will appreciate your interest.
Once you receive the document, read it over! Look to see if there is mention on appropriate sleeve coverage.
Very conservative environments may allow for long sleeves only – yes, even in the summer! Some will recommend some sort of sleeve present like a short or cap sleeve. Others still will allow for sleeveless, but not tanks.
Accommodations for sleeveless dresses and shirts are more acceptable now than ever, but how does sleeveless differ from a tank?
Sleeveless garments cover you from your neck(ish) to the edge of your shoulder. It’s as if you are wearing a long sleeve shirt and have removed the sleeve at the shoulder seam (see examples pictured above).
The neckline doesn’t matter much – it could be cowl, V, crew, collared – just that the majority of the space across the top of your shoulder is covered. Put another way, in a sleeveless style you will never risk showing your bra strap.
If your workplace doesn’t have a dress code or if acceptable sleeve length isn’t mentioned, I recommend veering to the conservative side. Unless you’re in an uber creative environment, assume sleeveless is acceptable but not tank, halter, spaghetti strap or strapless.
Once you find out what the rules, you may find what you’ve read doesn’t add up to what you’re seeing in your office.
It can be uncomfortable for management to approach women who aren’t following the dress code. They worry about being offensive or that you will take a different meaning from the conversation, so they keep their mouths shut.
This leads to an office filled with people not following the dress code and everyone believing that is totally fine to break the rules. People start following each other rather than the rules that are clearly laid out for them.
Even though management keeps their mouth shut, doesn’t mean you are going unnoticed.
Once you know what the rules are I highly recommend you start following them rather than the people around you.
Are you wondering, “What do I risk by breaking the rules?”
Breaking dress code rules could have no effect at all, or you could make the people around you feel uncomfortable or it could be as drastic as getting looked over for that promotion you really want and deserve.
I will always encourage you to express your personality with your style, but if you can do it while playing by the rules in your work environment, all the better!
Do you think banning bare shoulders in the workplace is archaic or just considerate business attire for women? What would think about a man who wore a tank top to your workplace? Let us know in the comments below.
Leave a Reply