This is a bit of a long comment.

Chewy Spaghetti has a thread regarding finding sustainable and professional clothing for her needs. It got me thinking - what does professional mean now? It doesn't mean what it did 30 years ago in my first job - and I remember getting it wrong in an interview and being coached about what was appropriate (I got the job).

In 1992 my friends in professional jobs had to wear suits, skirts not trousers, with hosiery and heels. Quickly trouser suits were allowed, and soon after the suit could be a blazer with skirt or pants of a different colour. I didn't have such a strict dress code but did have to wear a jacket at work with skirt, shift dress or trousers. Shell tops were allowed, and sandals were acceptable - I didn't have to wear hosiery in summer.

There was a distinction between a professional and a manufacturing and a creative dress code.

But isn't anything goes - but people wear jeans and sneakers... at a recent conservative work meeting in a traditional "club" environment there were lots of males in dark suits (mostly no tie), some in jeans, merino and allbirds, and a range in between. I wore the finds below which is my go to professional work outfit.

My workplace is a mix of professional engineers and workshop and is male dominated (17/19 staff are male). I truly can wear anything I want as long as it is practical. I lean to dresses or jeans/blazer or trousers/sweater or trousers/blouse/shirt etc If I am in the workshop I need covered shoes but if not, sandals are fine.

As one of the owners/managers I try to be smartly dressed but nobody else cares what I wear.

These are my own boundaries for me and our team but they aren't written down. There are also some safety rules regarding hi vis and steel capped boots but people follow them.

  • Sleeveless is fine but not spaghetti strap.
  • Heels and sandals are okay - those with a work rather than beach or party vibe. We have had engineers wearing birks with socks on office days.....I think that's marginal?
  • Sneakers are fine.
  • Bermuda or chino shorts are fine - not running shorts or cut offs. Longer denim shorts are fine.
  • Leggings aren't for work unless under a dress or skirt - we did have someone who was wearing them and asked them to wear work trousers.
  • Tattoo and piercing are fine - visible not an issue.

I haven't had anyone wearing distressed jeans, short cut offs or with midriffs showing. I don't know what I would do.

I don't really care what others wear (our most qualified staff member is the worst dressed) but when a school leaver turned up in NBA branded top and shorts I thought that was not the right vibe - although I would think shorts and a tee would be okay..... but maybe that's a prejudice I should get over (sports franchise things are for casual wear)

In a multi ethnic workplace there are challenges and expectations are changing. A uniform or dress code has pluses and minuses. We provide hi vis shirts and jackets to those that need them, and some free cotton shirts to others (but they don't have 5 work days worth)

What are the expectations and rules (written or unwritten) about dress in your workplace?