No matter what a person wears to work, whether their occupation is a waiter or waitress or a senior accountant for a large blue chip company, their business wear must presentable, clean and fit for purpose. In general terms for any workplace, the onus is on employees to attire themselves in business wear that indicates how they wish to be perceived and the degree of progression they would like to enjoy.
Dressing professionally in the workplace
The term ‘professionalism’ means different things in different circumstances. For instance, dressing to impress an interview panel or a potential client would entail dressing to a standard of polish that would not always be required on a standard office day. Many human resources departments will advise candidates as to what is meant by appropriate business wear. In contrast, dressing professionally in a bar or restaurant setting entails wearing clearly visible staff uniforms that are as equally comfortable as they are functional. Wearing corporate clothing will not in itself get a person the job or promotion they are seeking, that will take preparation, knowledge and drive. It does as a minimum show that the person is serious about wanting to project the right image, which will always be noticed.
How to dress professionally
Most organisations will put down an explicit list of what is unacceptable staff clothing. The reason for this is simple; it is easier for an employer to set down what constitutes inappropriate business wear, then to legislate on the minutiae of what is appropriate. The onus will then be placed on employees to dress within this often very wide definition of professional corporate clothing. For occupations where the employer provides staff clothing the opposite holds true because employees are told what to wear, which typically means a T-shirt or shirt with the company logo and / or name and complementary trousers, skirt and shoes. In the absence of definite examples, employees need to apply their common sense and / or ask for advice and if all else fails dress to impress and copy the boss or the smartest person in the office.
Professional does not always mean designer
If you are engaged in sales or marketing or your role involves direct contact with customers or the public, the employer is likely to stipulate that you not only behave professionally but also attire yourself such that you look the part at all times. This does not mean wearing a tailor made designer suit, it merely means wearing clothing that is of the right size, where the colours complement each other and the employee feels comfortable and therefore confident.
Overall, business wear should be exactly that, the clothing is for employees to wear in the workplace, it is corporate clothing and not festival clothing. Corporate uniforms would look out of place in a muddy field during a music festival. Similarly, wearing a favourite party T-shirt to work could result in an employee being sent home to change at their expense.