Everywhere I look, I see young people dressed like slobs.
They seem to have taken “casually chic” and transformed it into something completely sloven, or as observers of Hannah of TV show Girls call it, “ill-fitting chic”.
Fair enough, if you want to be seen in public like that.
You are grown ups and grown ups get to wear whatever they want, whenever you want to.
Wear the same clothes to go grocery shopping as you would to go to bed at night. Have lunch with friends in a “dress” that looks like it is a loose, wrinkled top (did you forget your pants) and shoes you could hike in.
Leave your hair looking like a bird’s nest and conveniently forget you own an iron, and an ironing board.
Just keep it out of the workplace, alright?
We are lucky that so many workplaces allow their employees to dress much more casually than they used to, but we should still look as though we have had a wash, and made a bit of an effort.
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Look, I get it. It’s all about self-expression and individuality.
Except all young people seem to be doing it, so I’m not sure how that is unique in any way.
I was young(er) when “heroin chic” was a thing and while I did temporarily enjoy not washing my makeup off before bedtime to achieve that much-revered “drug-fucked” look, I didn’t turn up to work like that.
Yes, you can wear whatever you like whenever you like, but there are consequences, particularly when it comes to your career.
I once heard about a young girl who turned up for a job interview for an office position wearing a hoodie.
They didn’t get the job, not because they didn’t look good or fashionable but because they didn’t look as though they made an effort.
They didn’t look as though they wanted the job at all.
An employer who works at a “business-casual office” has written to an advice column in New York Magazine asking for help with a slovenly-dressed worker who is good at his job but has unfortunate dress sense.
He is by the book following the dress code, but he kind of looks like he just rolled out of bed. He is clean, but looks messy. He will wear a polo or Henley shirt, but rarely tucked in. Often his pant hems are frayed. He wears shoes that are the ambiguous type that are sneakers but meant to pass as shoes. The clothes are baggy.
We work in IT so none of the techs care too much about looking fashionable, but pull off a reasonably professional look with a simple polo and khakis and belt. This person’s role is supposed to be more forward facing and collaborative with others across the organization, not just sitting in a room coding.
I blame Mark Zuckerberg with his grey T-shirts and his loose blue jeans.
I blame celebrities with their tracksuit pants and beanies.
I blame “athleisure” that is too expensive, leaving young people to pull on tattered, old workout gear thinking that’s okay.
Here’s what they seem to forget when it comes to their fashionable, disheveled choices: it’s one thing to dress casually and it’s another to look unwashed.
These young slobs, their crazy hair and their probably-unlaundered clothing seems to scream, “I am an individual. I am not a conformist?”
Except they are conforming to an ideal sloven ideal that is being presented by millionaires and celebrities.
Seeing as most of us are neither millionaires or celebrities, we still need to look as though we give a crap about our jobs. That can be hard to communicate through thoughts and words but easily done through how we look.
I care about my job so I make an effort with my appearance.
Clothes send a message and young people have to carefully consider what message their clothes are sending to their superiors.
I was always told, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have", and while work dress standards are much more relaxed these days - removing the need for "casual Friday" because all days are casual - there are consequences to looking like a hot mess.
Dress casually if you have to but look clean.
Be hipster if you must but do it properly.
As this boss' dilemma alludes to, they way you dress can hold back your career progression and take away from your achievements. It can lead bosses to question their decision to hire you and to spend valuable time trying to address the issue without offending you.
X looks put together, not like he rolled out of a hammock in his office. I think that this guy would rather be sequestered in his office or work from home, but that is not the reality of the job right now. He is hurting his prospects with the organization as a whole because my boss views this even more negatively than I do.
I don’t want to offend my employee, who does do good work. Any suggestions on how to discuss this and get the point across to someone who seems clueless about clothing?
Most work places don't usually bother issuing formal dress codes anymore.
Most employees who get jobs have pretty much figured out what the expectation is anyway.
And if the expectation that you dress for the job you have as well as the job you want is encroaching on your self-expression, watch a few episodes of Mad Men and be grateful that you are not required to wear ridiculous heels, uncomfortable suits and "set" your hair every night.
A good rule of thumb is to never wear something so comfortable to work that you don't need to change into something even more comfortable when you get home.