Consequences for Bad Professional Appearance in the Workplace

Wearing slippers to work isn't very professional.
i Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

You may look great in your seductively short skirt, strapless shirt or pair of adorable flip-flops, but that doesn't mean you should wear any of them to work. Your boss, clients and co-workers judge you by the way you look, so wearing inappropriate attire to the office can have serious professional consequences. If you're a manager, you may need to create a dress code for your office and have a talk with employees who don't abide by it.

Disrespect and Distraction

    It's fine to wear your comfy t-shirts, slippers and pajama pants when you're off the clock, but donning these things at work may lead to disrespect from your colleagues. Your co-workers and boss might think you're clueless, for example. Co-workers might make jokes about your inappropriate attire or avoid you as much as possible. Your fellow workers will also have trouble taking you and your ideas seriously. Your attention-grabbing cocktail dress might be perfect for a night on the town, but at work, it's too distracting for your co-workers. If co-workers are staring at you in the dress, they are paying less attention to customers or projects. That will cost your company money, and your boss probably won't be too happy about it.

Lost Opportunities

    If you or your co-workers regularly meet with clients and customers, dressing inappropriately may result in lost opportunities and sales. Customers make judgments about you as soon as they see you, and if you don't have a professional appearance, they might take their business elsewhere. Clients have a hard time trusting a poorly dressed person. If you wear a fuzzy, neon-pink sweater to meet a client, for example, he might think you're incapable of working with him professionally.

Sexual Harassment

    You may be feeling confident about your body and the way you look, but you shouldn't show too much skin to people at work. Too-short skirts, sheer clothing and shirts that expose your midriff can attract the kind of attention you don't want at the office. Co-workers might think your provocative clothing is an invitation to flirt with you or ask you out on dates. Even if this attention doesn't bother you, it can be distracting and a drain on your productivity. Occasionally, a colleague's flirting may veer into the realm of sexual harassment, creating an uncomfortable -- and possibly dangerous -- situation for you.

Talking to Inappropriately Dressed Co-Workers

    If you're a manager and your employees aren't dressing professionally, consider implementing an office dress code. Specify the types of clothing that both men and women cannot wear, and give suggestions for what is appropriate. Clearly state the consequences for ignoring the dress code. Even with a dress code, some employees may continue to dress inappropriately. If you must speak to them, take each employee into your office alone to talk privately. Remind the employee that the company policy forbids dressing the way she does, if applicable. Tell her why her appearance is inappropriate for the office. If she begins dressing professionally after this conversation, praise her for the effort.

the nest