A recent study has revealed the unusual and often-contradictory dress rules adopted by Britain’s image-conscious offices.
A study of 2,000 workers found many consider anything which bares too much skin to be out of place in the office, including cropped, low cut, strapless or backless tops as well as short skirts.
High heels, long or unkempt beards and excessive make-up were also in the firing line.
While some still consider visible tattoos to be a no-no, six in ten think body ink is more acceptable than ever before, with another 42 per cent believing the same is true for piercings.
Despite this, the poll, by workplace uniform provider Simon Jersey, found one in five workers have been reprimanded by their boss over their inappropriate work wear.
One female employee has been hauled up in front of her boss because her dress was ‘too pink’ while another worker faced a talking too as their top was creased.
Other unusual or bizarre requests made by bosses include telling one woman to wear more make-up, another to dress ‘less young’ and wearing hair up instead of down.
Simon Jersey, which provides uniforms to more than half a million UK workers and commissioned the research, said: “What to wear to work can be a controversial and confusing subject – the type of job you do, and the industry you work in, can make a massive difference to what is and isn’t deemed appropriate.
“As if what to wear isn’t confusing enough, while tattoos, bright hair colours and even flashing your skin might be fine in one job, you could wear the same look to another role and get a completely different reaction.
“Worryingly, it seems some are even picked up because of the colour of their clothes or the amount of make-up they have one.
“Your appearance can be especially important if you deal with clients, customers or members of the public – your boss will want you to be representing the company in what they consider to be the right way.
“But this can make it a minefield when choosing what to wear. Each morning, there are probably thousands of people looking in the mirror trying to decide if what they look like is ‘acceptable’ for the day ahead.”
The study also found that 44 per cent of workers think there is something about their appearance which isn’t particularly suitable for work, with one in ten admitting they don’t dress appropriately for their job.
Almost two thirds even believe the way they dress or look may have had an effect on their chances of getting a pay rise or promotion in the past.
Their fears could be correct though as 37 per cent of managers admitted they have overlooked someone if they have consistently dressed inappropriately.
Two thirds also admitted they would be less likely to give someone a job if there was something they didn’t like about their appearance during the interview.
And while 42 per cent of bosses simply have a quiet word with someone they think needs to improve their appearance, one in five has had a formal conversation or warned them about it.
One in 50 has even fired someone over the way they dress.
The study found crop tops are deemed the most unacceptable item to wear to work, followed cleavage-flashing clothes, mini-skirts and baseball caps.
Flip flops completed the top five, with beanie hats, underwear on show, t-shirts with inappropriate logos, backless tops and ripped jeans also a no-no.
A spokesman for Simon Jersey added: ‘’There has been a definite shift towards a more casual working wardrobe over the last decade and we’ve reflected that trend in our range with new garments that create a more relaxed working wardrobe.
“There’s more than 900 garments in our catalogue, so no matter what your role or what industry you work in, we can create a uniform for you and your team.”
Top 20 things unsuitable for the workplace
- Crop tops
- Tops which show cleavage
- Baseball caps
- Flip flops
- Beanie hats
- Visible underwear
- T-shirts or tops with large logos or images
- Backless tops
- Ripped jeans
- Strapless tops
- Anything which shows too much skin
- High heels
- Unkempt, long or full beards
- Visible body piercings
- Tattoos on show
- Excessive make-up
- Novelty ties