Flip-Flops, Miniskirts: The Worst Of Summer Work Attire

office slacker

When it comes to workplace attire, we're no longer restricted to the all-business-all-the-time suits-and-ties of Mad Men-era office culture. Colorful, fun companies like Google have proved success isn't derived from stodgy work outfits but can be achieved even in T-shirts and V-necks. ("You can be serious without a suit" is actually one of core philosophies.)

But that doesn't mean employees are open to all styles in the workplace. According to a new survey by human resources solutions company Adecco, when it comes to casual attire, especially during the summer, employees still have pretty strong views about what they find acceptable to wear in the office. While 74% of Americans think it's acceptable to dress more casually in the summer, there are certainly limits to workplace fashion.

The biggest office wardrobe offender? Flip-flops. When asked to select the attire that's most inappropriate for the workplace, roughly 71% of respondents answered flip-flops—no one is interested in seeing your hammer toes or Hobbit hooves, in other words. (Open-toed shoes, on the other hand, were deemed inappropriate by only 31% of respondents.) According to the 1,000 American adults Adecco surveyed, flip-flops were more offensive than even miniskirts, which 70% of respondents found inappropriate. Strapless tops or dresses ranked third, with 66% of the vote.

But while Mad Men-era dress codes have gone out of style, there's a sense that the period's sexism has carried over when it comes to workplace attire. For strapless tops or dresses, for example, more than 76% of women find them inappropriate; only 55% of men, however, feel the same. And when it comes to miniskirts, women find them far more offensive than men—80% of women believe miniskirts are inappropriate, whereas just 61% of men do.

Gosh, of all the days to choose to wear flip-flops, a miniskirt, and a strapless top. No wonder my coworkers have been giving me questionable looks.

[Image: Flickr user Slyworking2]

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  • chaoskitten82

    This survey must have went out to the 40+ demographic. More and more companies are moving to the "production" type workspace vs the "butts in seats" workspace. To me, a company that wants me in my chair 40 hours a week and wants me to wear heels all the time is more concerned with superficial outward looks than real productive work. If I have to spend over an hour to get ready...dress, makeup, heels....only to sit at a desk all day...it just seems like a horrible waste of my time. I am a firm believer in being modest, clean and generally nice-looking. It's sad to see those that come into the office looking like Pig Pen from the Peanuts. But my personal philosophy is...if I take care of myself I should be allowed to wear whatever I want. Flip flops? Of course...because I have a perfect pedicure. Strapless top? Those rock with a statement necklace. But those of us who "get it" suffer because of the others that walk in looking like a hot mess.

  • Maun Tandu

    A gentle warning to the shorts-n-sandals advocates, though.  As a hiring manager, I had a guy hire on during a hiring push (so some "Mad Men era" red flags were ignored).  We maintained a casual atmosphere for developers (slacks and polos).  Once on board, he started showing up in shorts and sandals--and even walking around the office barefoot.  He turned out to be the worst employee we've had.  Ever.  

    So just be aware that you may get judged by someone else's failings, just due to appearance.  Fair?  No.  Reality?  Yes.

  • Carmen Ghia

    And Birkenstocks should be outlawed in the workplace--except for programmers.

  • Mark Venema

    Whoa... ridiculous how people are so obsessed with appearance and can't keep themselves from distracting sexual thoughts by... ah... flip-flops..?? Note the attention is on what women wear too, strapless tops and mini-skirts.... so how sex obsessed and paradoxically sexist is corporate culture these days? I guess there are very few fans of the "burn the bra" era out there.

    If a women is not allowed to wear something cool on a few hot days of summer, then it seems the problem is just as much with the men as it is with women... Are they leaning or bending over indiscreetly? ... and how different is that from all you see elsewhere? Is this about hypocrisy or freedom?  ... or just that we are automatons in the service of serious corporate profits ... so we can just screw people in other ways.

    Sick nation. Sick results. .... If we would realize that Monsanto is the anti-christ and work from there, maybe no one would freak out about a little bit of leg. I'd like to know in what cities this survey was made. Really, I would.

  • SlworkingKevin

    Exactly.  There are too many superficial people in this world - glad to know that you're NOT one of them. :-) Management values us developers for our skills - not our appearance.
    Lower and upper management values me for my skills and work ethic - not
    for how I dress. I would never work for an employer that acted otherwise.

  • Carmen Ghia

    Come on Mark, nothing new here. Women don't like other women using their sexuality to get something, especially in the workplace. And men are hardwired visually when it comes to sex. It's in the DNA. As for flip flops, I'm not sure sex has anything to do with. Most people's feet just look gross in those things.

  • Eric Rice

    I think there's another side to this topic, too, though. If you put a modicum of effort into looking good, people will take you more seriously. You don't have to be in a suit to look put together, though. Cargo shorts, too-big Old Navy t-shirts, and hairy man-toes atop flip flops is a sloppy look.

    As an engineer (and one that works with a lot of programmers to boot), I know very well that someone dressed like that isn't even close to an indicator of poor skills. But, I do find that, even within the rubric of casual clothing, I am much more likely to feel confident about someone who puts some effort into their look, so I try to take advantage of that in others. Well-fitting jeans, a nice polo shirt, and chucks are a huge improvement over the picture above, and you'd be hard pressed to tell me that's an any less comfortable or easily attained look.

    I mean, at what point are you projecting the message that you just can't be bothered to care just *a little*?

  • SlworkingKevin

    Flip flops, shorts, and t-shirts are the norm at the company I work for. Management values us developers for our skills - not our appearance. Lower and upper management values me for my skills and work ethic - not for how I dress.  I've even had other managers beg me to leave my current department and come work under them. We'll all very open-minded at this company - it's all about skills, getting along well with others, and work ethic.  We're NOT superficial.  An ultra-casual programmer is often the most-skilled.  If I were hiring a mechanic to work on my car, I'd have more confidence in the guy (or girl) dressed in grease-stained clothes than one dressed in neat and sparking-clean work clothes.

  • Kristin Eide

    I definitely agree with the three items on this list. However, I would personally find sweatpants and low cut shirts to be more inappropriate than flip flops. 

  • Morgan Barnhart

    Gasp! I know that Slyworking guy! :) Love his Twitter pics! And I honestly don't see anything wrong with flip flops. I think as long as you're comfortable, you're more productive. People who try to force their employees to be uncomfortable in attire (especially if they never interact with customers) is a little silly. There needs to be standards in the workplace, of course, but not to the extent where employees are having to buy whole new wardrobes just to work somewhere. 

    That's why I love where I work now. I still dress nice, but it's more casual nice, instead of business nice and I am way more productive because I don't have to be concerned about what I have to wear in the morning. I can focus on more important things...like my job. :)

  • SlworkingKevin

    Thanks Morgan. Very well said - one should be comfortable while working - especially, like you mentioned, in a setting where one doesn't interact with external customers.