Summer Time Office Dress Tips and Advice

This summer we’re hearing dress faux pas complaints from many HR and office managers and the major culprit is leggings. So we thought we would repost a comment on leggings from a reader.oolala, I've a feeling that i'm forgetting something. Something important.

Schoolgirl’s worst nightmare

Hi, My latest pet peeve is about women and leggings (I’ll begin with a bit of a story.)

When I was a little girl, I had this reccurring bad dream. I dreamt I was at school but I forgot to put on my pants or skirt. I just had my leotards and top on! I felt awful and bare and embarrassed!

Nightmare becomes reality

Well, unfortunately my nightmare has become a reality! There are women all over, young and mature alike that walk around with their leotards on (black or patterned leggings) and a top of some kind – but, they have forgotten to put on their skirt or pants!

Leggings are not pants?

They have no idea. They are in a sense – half undressed! How can I tell – well, that is just how it looks. Unless the sweater or t-shirt/dress is 6 inches above the knee or lower, they look half undressed. What bothers me the most, is that it looks bad. Leggings are not pants! A man would never dream of walking around like that unless he was in the ballet, so why do women! And, why do mature women?

Excuse me, I think you forgot something

Teachers and other professionals alike need to be told that it is inappropriate to dress like this and be out in public at work. Can you tell them Joanne – can you give some tips and advice? I am tempted most of the time to tell women…”Hey, you forgot to put your pants/skirt on today.”

Joanne’s leggings advice is after this fun flow chart from Amy Sly on Buzzfeed.

Joanne’s tips & advice

As your corporate image consultant I agree that certain clothing like leggings have a more casual connotation and are best worn for business by those in creative professions like the arts, TV, theatre, design and advertising.  They may also be acceptable in more corporate environments on casual Fridays, however guide lines need to be presented to employees.

Tush proud

As with any fashion that reveals the human form, slender, well proportioned women think they have the most leeway. I was recently doing a television interview and was greeted by one of the producers, a warm, friendly individual who was wearing leggings with a leather motor cycle jacket that stopped at the waist. Needless to say, her buttocks were certainly a focal point and might I say a bit of a distraction.

Behind ambivalent?

While she was certainly fit, my feeling and advice is that this look was better suited for the weekend.  Whether we are tush proud or ambivalent about our behinds, I suggest that leggings be accompanied by a longer tunic top (tip – it should at least reach your fingertips).

When in doubt?

I’ve worked with many companies assisting them with dress guideline advice and the more specific you can be with certain dress concerns, the less problems you will encounter down the road. The tip I usually give in my lunch and learn business dress seminars is , “If you’re unsure that your apparel meets the dress code, when in doubt, leave it out.”

Click here for a pdf of our Summer Business Dress DOs and DON’Ts Tip Sheet for men and women.

Posted by Joanne Blake – Canadian Corporate Image Consultant, Coach and judicious leggings wearer

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

  1. Thanks to everyone for getting the message out that there is a time and place for leggings. I was in Vancouver last week and noted that leggings by a certain popular brand were alive and well on the streets.

  2. This is brilliant. Thanks so much Joanne for addressing this poor choice in personal dressing and a felony-level transgression for business. The info graphic made me smile and the closing argument says it all: “when in doubt, leave it out”.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    Some great tips for leggings.

    If you don’t have a sense of what to wear with leggings you probably should not be wearing them. Any logically minded person should know that you need to cover your bits and pieces at work or at play. At the beach? That’s another story and you can reveal all and leave your leggings at home!.

  4. Hi Joanne,

    can you PLEASE add flip-flops to the list of summer NO-NOs! These things should never ever enter an office! An the noise they make when walking in the hall – grrrr
    Long (ankle length) leggings with a long (tush covering) top are fine, BUT capri leggings look like underwear no matter what you wear on top.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}