What You Wear at Work Still Affects Promotion Chances

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Managers place less emphasis on dress codes than they did 6 years ago, but what you wear still matters. Especially if it's a chicken suit.

You wouldn’t wear pajamas or a see-through dress to the office, right?

Apparently some people need telling.

Staffing firm OfficeTeam released a survey of more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with at least 20 employees. They were asked, “To what extent does someone’s style of dress at work influence his or her chances of being promoted?”

The survey was also done in 2007, and comparing the results is interesting: In 2007, 33 percent of managers said dress significantly affected the odds of a promotion, and 60 percent said it had somewhat of an effect. Only 7 percent said it didn’t matter at all.

In the new survey, just 8 percent said “significantly,” 72 percent said “somewhat,” and 20 percent said it didn’t matter. That suggests a shift toward more casual dress. The Washington Post recently wrote about start-ups that emphasize comfort in attire.

But there are still some things you just can’t get away with. The fun part of the survey was when managers were asked to describe the strangest outfit they saw or heard of someone wearing to work. Choice responses included:

  • “A dinosaur costume.”
  • “Fishnet stockings and stilettos.”
  • “Tennis shoes and men’s knicker pants.”
  • “A chicken suit.”
  • “Yoga pants.”
  • “A space suit.”
  • “A wolf mask.”

A couple of years ago, we wrote about how tattoos are increasingly common, but still usually hidden during job interviews and at work. What about your workplace? Does your boss still make a big deal out of appearance? Does it depend on where you work? Let us know.

Stacy Johnson

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