Dress Codes and Your Work Culture


Casual Dress Codes

My question is how much can I differ from the dress culture at my office?

February is the coldest month where I live. I’ve been thinking of wearing my jacket at work as a extra.
The thing is, is that very few women who work in my building wear a blazer / jacket. There are a few men here who wear suit jackets, but their wage is double mine.

Yes, I know I can wear it, but how important is it to resemble the rest of the group with today’s emphasis on “teams”?

Kind regards,


The dress code culture of where you work is important and it often makes people feel included and part of the group, but there is always room for individual personality to shine through (unless you have to wear a uniform).    If your work culture is one of being casual, so many of your team who have very relaxed personalities will want to dress down as much as possible.  But if your personality isn’t quite so relaxed you may prefer naturally to dress up a little more, and wearing a jacket is one of those ways.

Not only should you consider the dress code of the team, you need to consider where you want to go in the company, if you do want to get promoted to the management level, then looking more like the management will help them see you in their team rather than the one you’re currently in.  But also, what are the values of the company you work for?  Does your team dressing style work for the company values and mission?  Does it represent it?  Sometimes you’ll find when one person starts dressing better in the team, the rest of the team follow as it becomes the new ‘normal’ dress code.

So if you work in a more casual environment but particularly in the cooler months when you need to add layers, there are ways of staying more related to your more casual looking team you can add a jacket style garment, that doesn’t make you look like you’ve just joined the management team.

1. Look for jackets made in jersey and other softer, less structured fabrics

2. Go for cardigans that have more of a jacket feel.

3. Make sure your jackets aren’t classic in styling – a waterfall collar makes the jacket feel more casual.


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  • Hi
    I would like an advice on how to dress at school. I am a teacher, but I hate formal dresses, and as I live in Panama, a tropical country, we are like in summer time all the time, so jackets are something we don’t usually wear. Could you help me, please?

  • Even though the comment from Delkis was made in Dec 2012, I would like to comment how to dress for teachers in a tropical climate. First, I would read the dress code for your school first to determine what is and is not allowed. Your school might allow shorts, skorts, khaki pants, coulottes, or shorter length skirts due to the heat (which would not be acceptable in Ohio where I live now). They may also allow sandals, sneakers, deck shoes or casual shoes.

    I would suggest fine 100% cotton or fine linen cotton blend clothing, which is cool, breathable and washable. You might also try bamboo fiber if it is available. I honestly don’t think silk would work for you because silk can stain easily from moisture and sweat, and would be ruined quickly if you work with young children.

    I would wear loose flowing skirts or wider legged pants that allow air to circulate around the body, with t-shirts or blouses that are sleeveless, short sleeved, or capped sleeved, or that have sheer or lace sleeves. I would also be sure that all fabrics are substantial enough that they not see-through, especially when backlit by bright sunlight.

    You did not mention if your school is air conditioned. If it is and you are going in and out between extreme heat and cold, you could use a jacket or sweater when you are inside the air conditioned building and keep it at your desk. If you want to layer, I would use a light weight chiffon or cotton lawn oversized scarf, or a fine crochet mesh shawl, or a thin fine cotton sweater with a lacy, open weave. You could also layer a cotton sleeveless shell under a thin cotton blouse with a nicely finished hem used as a jacket. The best place to use a scarf may be to tie up your hair, as a belt, or tied to your purse handle, versus being around the neck or over the shoulders.

    I would keep jewelry to a minimum: simple stud earrings that can’t get snagged or grabbed easily by small fingers, a ring that sits flat against the finger, or a pretty pin.

    I would keep the styles simple, and the colors light and bright to reflect light away from the body. White, ivory, cream, light beige, taupe, pale dove gray, pastels, and lighter bright colors like rose, fushia, cornflower blue, lemon yellow, salmon, lavender, spring green would be great colors to use. I would avoid dark colors altogether since they absorb heat.

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