What defines work wear?


Our guest blogger, Gemma Farquharson, writes about modern work wear and discusses the vague definition behind the commonly used term, “dress code,” within the office.

What to wear while aiming for a new career is always a difficult decision. With jobs now few and far between, dressing to impress has never been more important. Companies often only give a vague indication of their dress policy, if anything at all. Formal attire or smart casual? – It’s all in your discretion.

Michelle Chai, a freelancer at IPC Media, states, “the dress code is smart-casual… I pretty much just wear what I like.”


Naomi Bullivant, a marketing executive at Ocado, also states “the dress code in the office is smart-casual. However, I can’t give you a definitive reason for why this is the case.”

It seems as if there is a need for legislation defining companies’ policies on work wear?  Companies appear to have a strict code for the warehouses, but not within their offices. What does “smart-casual” actually mean?  I’ve always thought work wear should look smart and reflect the company’s image, but while some companies allow jeans and other may not, what is the exact definition of work wear?

For example, most jobs within the media sector have a more laid back work wear policy that reflects the fashion world, whereas office work seems to be slightly more formal.

To stay on the safe side, I try to go smart casual on the first day and then gauge what other employees are wearing.  My work wear normally consists of a blouse paired with a pencil skirt underneath a cardigan or blazer.

In my experience, first impressions are everything and the key issue is dressing to impress. You are not only representing yourself- you are representing the company that you are working for. When working in an office environment, I’ve always wondered if women should have to cover up to be respected and to achieve equality.  Arguably, this is not the first thought that comes to mind when getting dressed in the morning for work. However, it is something to think about while aiming for a job title within the workplace.

Debut magazine, a new publication that provides readers with all the latest career and lifestyle news in the creative and media sector states, “our [dress] code is casual, but we do believe dress policy should reflect the tone of the particular company.”

There’s no implication that work wear needs to be frumpy or old-fashioned.  In fact, I believe work wear should look sophisticated and chic, and those two characteristics are adaptable enough for you to get a job in fashion.  Below are a few examples of work wear available at the moment in the high street and some designer pieces.




written by Gemma Farquharson, Guest Contributor

edited by Tiffany Ouyang, Editor


Gemma (based in London) will graduate with a degree in English Language and Literature in September 2012 with a specialization in Creative Writing. With a passion for writing and fashion, Gemma is now freelancing with a long term goal of becoming an editor and getting her novel published.

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