Hypothetical Question #1: When Is Business Casual TOO Casual?

Hypothetical Question

Many workplaces are adopting a business casual dress code as a perk and to make the work environment more comfortable for the employees. After all, if you’re not interfacing with a customer, why should you wear a shirt and tie or a jacket to sit in your cubicle all day and write code or answer the phone?

Here is the situation: Your company is short-handed and has been on a hiring blitz. After interviewing a dozen potentials, your boss hires someone who is coming in today. This person comes in with a 3-day beard around his full goat-tee, a plain blue t-shirt (not listed as unallowable), and slacks that have the inseam hanging down somewhere just above his knees. You hope he just moved from out of state and has been living out of his suitcase in a hotel and can’t find his Norelco. The next day, it’s more of the same sloppy, but piece-allowable clothes. As the days go on, it becomes clear that he shaves once per week and does not own a single collared shirt, not even a polo.

What do you do when you lose professionalism at the office? Most corporate dress codes are very specific about “what not to wear,” but what is often missing is a standard of how to wear it, or what things should be avoided by certain people. Here is a for-example that I found that attempts to describe what is inappropriate in the “spirit of business casual:”

In all circumstances, business casual wear means clean, neat and professional clothing. It is never appropriate to wear stained, frayed, wrinkled or revealing clothing to the workplace.

Your new co-worker isn’t breaking any dress code rules, but he is a slob, in the very essence of the term. Yet he is allowed to get away with it because he is abiding by the company policy. What do you do?

  • Lance

    It seems to me the standards weren’t set clear enough and this co-worker is pushing the line of allowable. I would politely point out that where as he is not breaking any of the rules for casual dress he does not look professional. Suggest he maybe buy a few collared shirst even if it be short sleeve polo’s, a few pairs of nice and pressed khakis and some comfortable casual dress shoes, suggest maybe he shave more than once a week or keep facial hair to a minimum. Again it seems to me the standards were not clearly stated in the first place and the definition you gave of casual leaves to much up to interpretation and should be revised. hope this helps.

  • Lance

    It seems to me the standards weren’t set clear enough and this co-worker is pushing the line of allowable. I would politely point out that where as he is not breaking any of the rules for casual dress he does not look professional. Suggest he maybe buy a few collared shirst even if it be short sleeve polo’s, a few pairs of nice and pressed khakis and some comfortable casual dress shoes, suggest maybe he shave more than once a week or keep facial hair to a minimum. Again it seems to me the standards were not clearly stated in the first place and the definition you gave of casual leaves to much up to interpretation and should be revised. hope this helps.

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Perfectly Me

    Thanks Lance.

    While most companies have “hygene” standards, outside of retail stores, I’m not familiar with many facial hair guidelines.

    Your suggestions seem reasonable and kind. It would be a pleasure to work with you.

    Along the same lines, do you believe in dressing for the position you want, not the one you have, even if you are overdressed in comparison to your co-workers?

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Perfectly Me

    Thanks Lance.

    While most companies have “hygene” standards, outside of retail stores, I’m not familiar with many facial hair guidelines.

    Your suggestions seem reasonable and kind. It would be a pleasure to work with you.

    Along the same lines, do you believe in dressing for the position you want, not the one you have, even if you are overdressed in comparison to your co-workers?

  • Lance

    Definitely like the old saying goes you have to dress for success. If you are a good worker but look like a dirtbag and there is another guy that does the same type of work you do as in quality and doesn’t look like a dirtbag most likely he will get the raise or promotion. If you look like a million bucks and everyone else just looks like twenties people will see the million not the twenty. So overdress away Jesse make yourself look good inothers eyes.

  • Lance

    Definitely like the old saying goes you have to dress for success. If you are a good worker but look like a dirtbag and there is another guy that does the same type of work you do as in quality and doesn’t look like a dirtbag most likely he will get the raise or promotion. If you look like a million bucks and everyone else just looks like twenties people will see the million not the twenty. So overdress away Jesse make yourself look good inothers eyes.

  • http://www.raisingcoat.blogspot.com Mindkiller

    HA!

    I routinly come to work with several days worth of stubble surrounding an full 12 inch Goat. I however always wear clean shirts and pants. The shirts are usually collared polo types shirts. The physical nature and the common element of dirt and dust preclude me from spending any kind of money on “decent” corporate attire ie button shirts and slacks. I love that I am allowed leeway even though I deal with customers on an almost daily basis. However as I am looked upon as a grunt, my appearence matches my current job. Come to think of it….it matches my dream job’s uniform as well, which IS to work in a warehouse with the dirt and grime. Does my getup reflect on my workcenter?…prolly not. Very few of my customers even realise I’m just one aspect of my particular work center’s total scope. That suits me fine as I don’t want to be associated with those guys anywho.

    As for appropriate dress codes, yeah I’m all for them as long as they take into consideration comfort and utility over appearance. I don’t want a person working in my warehouse without the proper clothing that will 9 times out of 10 prevent an injury. I’m not talking PPE, I’m talking clothing that serves that purpose without being thought of as PPE. I can’t see some lady working a warehouse dressed in pumps and a skirt. It just won’t work. I do think tha the hot chicks in the corporate areas need to wear more revealing tops and shorter skirts. All clothing choices need to be vetted by a panel of likeminded men for the purpose of uniformity and quality.

    What?….Why are you looking at me like that?

    Don’t tell me you wouldn’t wanna be on that panel.

    I’m just sayin….

  • http://www.raisingcoat.blogspot.com Mindkiller

    HA!

    I routinly come to work with several days worth of stubble surrounding an full 12 inch Goat. I however always wear clean shirts and pants. The shirts are usually collared polo types shirts. The physical nature and the common element of dirt and dust preclude me from spending any kind of money on “decent” corporate attire ie button shirts and slacks. I love that I am allowed leeway even though I deal with customers on an almost daily basis. However as I am looked upon as a grunt, my appearence matches my current job. Come to think of it….it matches my dream job’s uniform as well, which IS to work in a warehouse with the dirt and grime. Does my getup reflect on my workcenter?…prolly not. Very few of my customers even realise I’m just one aspect of my particular work center’s total scope. That suits me fine as I don’t want to be associated with those guys anywho.

    As for appropriate dress codes, yeah I’m all for them as long as they take into consideration comfort and utility over appearance. I don’t want a person working in my warehouse without the proper clothing that will 9 times out of 10 prevent an injury. I’m not talking PPE, I’m talking clothing that serves that purpose without being thought of as PPE. I can’t see some lady working a warehouse dressed in pumps and a skirt. It just won’t work. I do think tha the hot chicks in the corporate areas need to wear more revealing tops and shorter skirts. All clothing choices need to be vetted by a panel of likeminded men for the purpose of uniformity and quality.

    What?….Why are you looking at me like that?

    Don’t tell me you wouldn’t wanna be on that panel.

    I’m just sayin….