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Dress code evolution: The new rules of work attire

Post-pandemic means comfort is of upmost important. Whether working from home or at the office, let’s take a look at the new dress code.

Dress code with shorts and skirts

A dress code is something most of us have been familiar with since we were in middle school. Skirts and shorts had to be a certain length and you had to wear closed-toed shoes. There might have just been a particular way you had to style your hair or you couldn’t have flashy jewelry.

Those familiarities continued into the workplace. Before you knew it, your closet was crammed with both clothes you loved and wanted to wear, then also workplace-appropriate clothing that didn’t express who you truly are.

As companies consider their policies and become more accommodating, wardrobe lines are blurring and things you would never consider wearing to the office are now acceptable.

The Harvard Business Review states “The business dress code is evolving”. And they are entirely right, when people think of a workplace environment they think of suits and ties or a high-powered pants suit with stilettos…because that is what is projected to us as the expectation, the norm, the typical – or at least it was.

These days you’re seeing a lot more colors like pinks and baby blues (think Elle Woods from Legally Blond but not as much pink). High stilettos are being swapped with flats and in some instances even comfortable fashionable sneakers.

Some individuals are doing away with suits completely and going with more casual, soft jeans and a nice button-down. As someone who used to work in a very strict e-commerce business, I’ve seen the change firsthand.

As the pandemic finally cools its jets, the way we dress to work has also cooled down and become more casual.

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We want to be ourselves and comfortable in the workplace, seeing as we spend so much time there, but some people are still hesitant to take the leap because no one wants to be the example of what not to do.

HBR does have a few suggestions for small steps like observing others and experimenting with one piece at a time. Like ditching the tie or wearing a lower heel.

Whether you are interested in a wardrobe change for comfort or something more meaningful, it is all up to you. The way I see it, companies want us to put in 120% all the time. Any individual would have a hard time doing that when they don’t feel like themselves.

Putting on those chunky earrings or fun socks doesn’t change your ability to do your job, so it shouldn’t change how your company sees and values you.

So go out there and bend but don’t break the rules. You might find your everyday style is perfect for the workplace. 

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Mary Beth Lee retired from teaching in Texas this year after 28 years as a student media adviser. She spends her time these days reading, writing, fighting for public education and enjoying the empty nester life in Downtown Fort Worth.


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