Dressing appropriately for the office is a simple but powerful tool for career success, but it’s difficult to dress for success when the weather is so weird. Here are a few quick and simple rules to follow for what to wear when the weather can’t quite make up its mind:
- Dress to fit in. First, understand the culture of your organization and dress accordingly. What is the customary attire? How do your supervisors dress?What does HR say? If you work at Google, flip flops and jeans may be de rigueur, but if you work on Wall Street that’s probably a no-no. Always be appropriately attired for your particular office environment.
- Don’t jump the gun. Unless you live in Miami or LA, don’t jump the gun completely on warm weather clothing. You don’t have to stick with the woolens, but for most of us it’s still a bit early to don a light linen suit or sundress.
- If the shoe fits, you maybe able to wear it.It may be warm enough for open-toed shoes or dressy sandals where you live, but it’s still a tad early for strictly summery shoes like rope-soled espadrilles. If it is warm enough, stick to conservative leather sandals right now. And flip-flops at the office? Never (but…see #1).
- Save the shorts for the ballgame. No matter how warm it is, you may not wear shorts to the office. I don’t care what your colleagues are doing or what the the fashion magazines say: Shorts are never appropriate for a professional office environment.
- Check your grooming. Warmer weather means less clothing, and for the ladies this may or may not mean panty hose or sleeveless shirts or dresses. If you go hose-free (which is acceptable) just be sure that you have shaved your legs. Ditto for the underarms if you go sleeveless. Exposed armpit hair on a professional woman is a no-no.
- Always dress as best you can. Finally, no matter the weather, you should always dress as best and professionally as you can. Ask yourself: Do I look professional? Do I look like I belong? Am I dressed for success? The answer, no matter the weather or time of year, should always be yes. Jeans and strappy tanks may look great on you, and they may even be appropriate for your office (doubtful, though you never know), but is that really the best you can do?