Mistake #35: Let employees define business casual for your company

Time Magazine)

Life in my office ?! (Source: Time Magazine)

Summer is almost over and the days of trying to dress scantily are near the finish line. We have to get through the hot remaining days of August weather. Women are sneaking to their desks wearing spaghetti strapped-somethings with bra straps also on the shoulders; flip flops; shorts (instead of capris); men looking like they are ready to clean the garage and women looking like they are going to the beach. This is work? I’m all for dressing comfortably during hot weather, but going to work dressed like that? Maybe I experienced too many years of Catholic school and wearing a uniform.


Business casual is very ‘sticky’. How one perceives dressing business casual, another perception is different. I had a three people in for interviews this week and wanted my sales managers to also interview them.  The first two candidates are dressed in suits (appropriate for an interview), and two of my sales managers are dressed in jeans (not appropriate). I asked that they dress professionally as we do for client visits coming to the office for the third, and last interview.  They did. In a more-defined business casual.


So what happened? The third candidate comes in khaki pants and a golf shirt. Where was the suit for the interview?


The HR Director: “Oh, I forgot to tell you that he called ahead of time and asked if the company dressed business casual. I told him, yes, it did. I certainly wasn’t going to tell him how to dress for the interview! So, just because the company works daily in business casual, does that mean a candidate can come to the interview dressed as such?


Well, the next decade will bring something else. I’m sure of it.


Who sets the tone in your office for business casual? How does your CEO dress on a day-to-day basis?




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