Guest Post: Loop Looks - The Vague Office Dress Code (and How to Deal)

I've been reading Erin's blog FOREVER. She and I tend to have similar vague dress codes and I get a ton of inspiration from her. Take a minute to read her tips on a vague dress code!


Hey everyone! I’m Erin from Loop Looks. I work at a university in downtown Chicago in a administrative office that deals with VIPs. I’m also a department director so that means jeans on Fridays only. The rest of our dress code, though? It’s pretty flexible! And sometimes that can be a challenge. So for my guest post I wanted to give you some tips in case you find yourself in the same situation. For example, our dress code policy is:
It is essential that university employees present a professional image to students, alumni, and the public. As part of that image, it is imperative that all employees dress appropriately. Decisions regarding appropriateness of professional dress are made at the discretion of individual academic and administrative officers. These officers have the responsibility for communicating these decisions to supervisors. Supervisors should convey these guidelines to their employees and regularly disseminate information, as necessary, related to department dress standards.

Could that be any more vague? Here’s how I handle it. 1. Look at what your boss wears.
Outfits my boss has complimented me on
My boss probably owns all of Bloomingdales, Michael Kors, and Club Monaco (yes, she has expensive taste) so, as you can probably guess, she dresses quite nicely. But she wears open toed shoes, cropped pants, and the occasional thin-strapped tank. She also wears a lot of blazers and jackets in the winter as well as tailored pants and dresses. In short, she is a great dress code role model.
2. Okay, that’s great, but my boss dresses like a slob/doesn’t care. What then?
Your boss isn’t the best dresser? Never fear! Come up with a few of your own limits. For example, I know that Rachel at Suburban Style Challenge has a personal rule to never wear sneakers to work. I agree with her. Why? Because for my position they are not professional. You may decide that jeans are okay but only darker colored, bootcut jeans. Or you could choose to never wear sandals to work because you think closed toed shoes are more professional. Wear what makes you feel good and gives you confidence! I know you’ve all heard that saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It means exactly this. Look at people whose job you admire and see how they portray themselves. Emulate them if your immediate boss isn’t a good sartorial role model.
3. Don’t be afraid to dress up if it makes you feel better.
At my previous job our dress code basically prohibited denim, open-toed shoes, shirts with writing on them and skorts. That was it. Which means a lot of people wore t-shirts and khaki pants. If I showed up to work in anything other than black pants and a plain top I was usually asked, “Why are you so dressed up?”
Yeah, these definitely would have made people ask that question
You know what? I didn’t care. I wore what made me feel good. Sometimes putting on a fun skirt or dress or even your favorite pair of pants with a shirt in your favorite color can make it easier to get going in the morning. It also lets your personality shine through, too!
Do you have a dress code at the office? How do you make it work for you?
Posted on July 23, 2013 .