Work attire is important – it’s the packaging in which we present our professional abilities, competence, reliability and personality traits.
There are unwritten agreements in every system and customs that make networking easier and help focus on the important. Workplace fashion etiquette has evolved for a long time – it’s based on both practical arguments and groundless traditions and habits. Many former rules have served their time and have turned into recommendations.
In today’s changing world, etiquette has become more relaxed making room for the wearer’s personality. But not everywhere and in the same way.
In every field, when you have to represent the company, not yourself, the rules are a bit more conservative. Law, finance and defense forces are all organically classy fields. It’s the same way all over the world – emphasising the inferiority of using charm to manipulate in the professional world.
Actually, knowing the customs is freeing. Uneducated people tend to go to the extreme by dressing way over the top or vice versa, thinking everything is forbidden.
No one benefits from extremely conservative and boring clothes. Dull choice of clothing adds nothing to a person. It’s the person who misses out on a variety of opportunities to make themselves memorable.
Authority demands class. Super-minis and flashing bellies are out of the question. Then again, one shouldn’t go to the other extreme either by dressing up genderless and dull.
Personal class is the way to go.
Accessories are crucial for creating a good impression. Inevitably, at a business meeting we pay attention to where the important contracts are kept and even the pen which one uses to sign the papers plays a significant part in creating a good impression and gaining trust.
COMPANIES WITH A FREE AMBIENCE
On the other end of the professional conservativeness spectrum we have creative spheres where there are practically no rules left. For the marketing, media, art or fashion people dressing strictly is seen as unexpected yet trustworthy. Pretty much anything is allowed when you have a good sense of style, you just have to know where and what to allow yourself. When working in a free environment, basically any comfortable piece of clothing that doesn’t disturb you or the others is okay. Sweaters are worn a lot. A well-shaped cardigan is a great alternative to a jacket. It’s important to pay attention to taking care of the knitwear the right way, otherwise it’ll lose its shape soon and can be worn only while cleaning the house. During the colder seasons, an elegant fur collar can be worn with a jacket or cardigan. There’s a lot of soft tailoring to be seen in fashion that’s more comfortable and less strict.
CONSIDERING THE CUSTOMS IN AN AVERAGE ENTERPRISE
The rules in an average company are fairly flexible and debatable. You should pay attention to that particular company’s customs. Usually, being very different is not considered good. Then again, it all depends on the person and how they can make their clothes work.
Different jobs have different rules.
By climbing the career ladder, you gain more freedom and responsibility in every field and clothing is not an exception. A bold person can allow themselves much more if they manage to do it effortlessly. The life of the leaders is both easier and more difficult in that sense. Being presentable is key, there’s no way around it, but it doesn’t mean dressing boringly. Usually, the leader’s personality defines the fashion customs of a company. It’s a natural process. I don’t think anyone purposely imitates their leader, it’s rather an unconscious process. Basically, the fashion rules of an average company depend on how many foreign contacts there are and what they are like, how closely the job requires one to work with clients, whether or not one has any representative obligations etc. In many companies, the obligatory workwear is to differentiate the employees from the customers. Having a stylish and suitable uniform is a great solution because it rids us from doing brain gymnastics in front of the wardrobe every morning.
Author: Kristiina Herodes
Translator: Triin Tikk
Editor: Kärt Mättikas