Today’s mature woman fills many different roles in society. She may be a Homemaker, a Soccer Mom, a CEO, a Doctor or a Lawyer. She may also be all of those! Whether she is a homemaker, a full time employee or happily retired, today’s mature woman cares about her appearance and has never had more options for looking her best at any age.
As the working world evolves along with the rest of our society, dress codes have become much more relaxed outside of the professional fields such as lawyers or high profile business environments.
If you work in an environment that promotes ‘business casual’ as the allowed dress code, what does that mean to you? Do people judge a mature woman’s appearance more critically because of her age? Is it expected that a mature woman should always dress her age?
How should a mature woman dress for work?
Personally, I’m glad the tutu phase has waned. And I will be the first to admit that when I looked at a twenty year old in purple tights and a pink tutu at work and compared her to the fifty year old co-worker in a similar outfit, I was embarrassed for the older woman. Not that I feel the tutu and tights is appropriate office attire but I just wasn’t comfortable looking at the older woman in that attire in ANY environment.
Age apparently makes a difference to me. I’m sure that is a matter for personal opinion but selecting well fitting, age appropriate styles for a mature woman does not have to mean baggy shirts and a sensible shoe. But tights with a tutu?
Not for me. Anywhere, anytime. But that’s just me.
What is Business Casual Dress Code
Whether you like to shop Target.com, Walmart.com, or BostonProper.com, for most adults, ‘business casual’ means relaxed slacks and a shirt with a collar.
Well, yes, if you are a man. What about women?
Working in an office environment where there is only occasional customer contact, is it really so important to be concerned with employees attire? Unless a company requires a certain uniform, it can be a difficult task to define and monitor what employees are wearing, especially women.
But, employers should be aware that just one inappropriately dressed employee could send more than one potential customer away in disgust. Employees should keep the company’s dress code in mind if they want to dress for success while also considering the message they are sending clients and customers.
Professional Dress Code – Professional attire is frequently found among doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, bankers, Realtors and similar fields. You will generally find men in suits with a dress shirt and tie and dress shoes. Professional women wear suits or dresses of a conservative nature with stockings and dress shoes.
Uniform Dress Code – The simplest of the dress codes to enforce, the uniform dress code requires employees to wear a particular garment as found in restaurants, hospitals and service facilities such as an automobile repair shop.
Theme Dress Code – Similar to a uniform dress code, an environment such as a hair salon, massage therapy spa or specialty shop may require a smock over casual clothes or other similar garment promoting the theme of the business.
Business Casual Dress Code – Business casual dress code is a more relaxed version of the professional dress code. Many large corporations, small businesses and retail stores adopt the business casual code for most of their employees. Business casual usually means dress slacks and a shirt with a collar for men and slacks or skirts with a blouse for women.
Without a very well defined company dress code, it can be impossible to control how employees interpret ‘business casual’. A business without a clearly defined and enforced dress code may be leaving too much choice to the employee who dresses more like a comic book character than a sales clerk.
Some men stretch the khaki and pull over to the limit with a pair of slacks that haven’t seen the business side of an iron since they left the factory and an offensive or ridiculous tee shirt, while some women seem to dress for every occasion except work that can range from the wanna-be-pole-dancer to the fashion queen ready for a night at the opera.
Due to the nature of men’s clothing, it is relatively easy to define the dos and dont’s in the average business environment. It does get a little more complicated for women.
Here are a few guidelines for Business Casual Dress Code:
- Sandals – May be acceptable in tropical locations, otherwise, stick to flats, loafers or dress shoes.
- Jeans – Some companies differentiate between blue jeans which are best saved for dress down days and other colors which can be suitable in a casual setting.
- Overly trendy outfits. In some environments it may be acceptable to wear fads right off the fashion show red carpet but in a professional atmosphere, it’s best to leave the pink paisley rain boots at the door.
- Shirts – button shirts, short sleeve shirts are acceptable as long as only the top two buttons are undone.
- Always, always clean and pressed
- Wear appropriate undergarments. It’s never acceptable for private parts not to be private.
- Sweats or other gym apparel
- Flip Flops
- Visible undergarments – bra straps, hanging slips
- Excessively tight or revealing garments of any kind
- Bare midriff, bare shoulders
- Tube tops, tank tops, backless, off-the shoulder, or spaghetti strap tops
- Torn or frayed clothing
- Offensive or suggestive T shirts
Things only your mother would tell you:
- Ladies, if you’re going to wear thong panties under a slinky dress or skirt, wear a slip. Otherwise all eyes are watching that slinky dress trying to slip into where the sun never shines.
- Neither the click clack of stiletto heels nor the flip flop of flip flops creates a business like atmosphere.
If it is not your intention to stimulate or entice, don’t dress like it. If it’s too tight, too short or too low, it does not belong in a business environment.
An employee who thinks they should be allowed to express themselves by the way they dress or whose goal is to make a fashion statement every day may need a firm, specific dress code to insure they are not an embarrassment to the company.
- Do you dress like you’re heading to a biker bar with exposed, crisscrossed bra straps under a skin tight Cami?
- Can we count the goosebumps on your thighs because your tights are so tight and your slinky little top doesn’t even cover your lower cheeks?
- Are your clothes more wrinkled than a baby Shar Pei?
- Do you look like you just rolled out of bed?
Even if your company embraces a very casual atmosphere you should always be dressed so as to be an asset to your company rather than an embarrassment. Like it or not, we are all judged on our appearance and every employee is a representative of the company for which they work.
Regardless of your age, dress for success, not a costume show.