Rain or shine, snow or sleet, business continues. And so does corporate culture.
Dressing for a day at the office can be complicated by the seasons, but bad weather is no excuse for dressing inappropriately: with few exceptions, you’re still expected to follow the dress code.
Casual vs. cozy
It’s tempting to dress solely for warmth and comfort in winter, as the days grow shorter and chilly temperatures have you reaching for mittens and scarves. But, depending on your industry, there’s a definite limit to how cozy you can be around the office.
Your company may have a business casual policy or allow for bending the rules in particularly treacherous conditions, but neither is likely to last all season long.
What not to wear this winter
Avoid turning heads for all the wrong reasons by steering clear of these winter wardrobe snafus:
Sweatpants and shirts: These ultra-casual hybrids between day clothes and pajamas are purposely devoid of all professional qualities. Nothing says, “My alarm didn’t go off,” like a rumpled pair of cotton sweats at the office. Even with holiday prints and whimsical graphics, they’re better left to weekends and sick days spent at home.
Jogging suits: If your outfit is more suited to the locker room than the board room, it’s probably not appropriate. Velour, spandex, polyester – the variety of synthetic fabrics available in coordinating colors still doesn’t bring them up to business casual status. Bottom line: your co-workers shouldn’t see you in yoga pants and a hoodie, at least not at your desk.
Outdated holiday sweaters: You remember them: red and green panels, kissing reindeer, candy cane stripes. They may still be kitschy cute, but in case you haven’t heard, these once-popular knits are now passé. Argyle or solid cardigans that coordinate with a tailored look are in style again this year and can help pull any outfit together.
Snow boots: Hefty boots and galoshes are great for crossing the parking lot. However, they’re not a substitute for loafers or heels once you’re safely inside. Check your company’s dress code for its policy on dress boots; they’re not always considered appropriate either.
Parkas: Oversized winter coats aren’t meant to be worn indoors all day. Even the fur-trimmed variety are no substitute for business jackets. If you’re cold at your desk, chances are you’re not the only one; speak to maintenance about adjusting the building’s temperature. Meanwhile, a pashmina, scarf, or discreet lap blanket can help you relieve the chill without making you look as though you were just leaving.
In general, a good rule of thumb is that if a piece of clothing is more casual than business, it’s probably not suitable for work. Ask your employer if you have doubts about what’s appropriate at your office. Classic styles, after all, trump cozy any business day of the year.