I’ll never forget the summer afternoon when Sears CEO Arthur Martinez agreed to a “trial” casual days program for corporate headquarters. The always impeccably attired CEO’s two requests: trial period would run until Labor Day and we would make sure employees understood the difference between business casual and beach casual.
Our ensuing Do’s and Don’ts Fashion Show, posters and employee newsletters engaged employees in visualizing proper and improper business casual attire. Only a few employees occasionally showed up in flip flops and bare midriff tops, while most discovered the ease and comfort of Dockers, sneakers, casual shirts and Capris.
The Sears trial was deemed a success and the company readily adopted full-time casual, something that is standard policy at most agencies and corporations today. However, dress standards still vary widely depending on the organization. This makes it important–especially for job seekers–to inquire about dress standards of prospective employers. My recommendation has always been to dress one level above the organization’s standard. In other words, if the standard is business casual, then wear business professional.
The style pros at apparel retailer T.M.Lewin created the following helpful graphic for Culpwrit readers wondering about what to wear once you learn the dress code of a particular organization.