Is this acceptable work-wear?


Hi! I’m a 21 year old student doing some holiday work in an office and I just want some opinions about whether this is ok:

shirt - smart, pale blue and white stripes

skirt - denim (smart, below the knee style)

pale brown leather heels

The skirt is definitely quite a smart style, but being denim, I’m not sure, would any of you guys wear this in an office?


What were women wearing during your interview? What kind of business is this? I think that denim may be too casual for most business offices, although the blouses sound nice. Do you have a khaki or neutral-colored skirt or slacks to begin? Many offices have casual Fridays where the denim would be acceptable.

It really depends on the office dress code, and the kind of business. My sister works for an accountant, and must dress up; another is a store manager, and the store has a dress code of solid blue or khaki tops. I make inspections on constructions sites, and wear jeans and a blouse.

What did you wear for your interview? Good luck with the job! It could be a great opportunity.


You need to ask the office manager or HR about dress code or what is generally acceptable.

In my company, M-Th is business casual and Friday is casual. Denim is only allowed on Fridays. It is not considered business casual. Neither are capri pants.

Business casual is considered to be non-denim skirts, slacks, collared polo shirts, blouses, dresses, etc. Friday casual can be jeans, denim skirts, slacks/khakis, collared polo or blouse (no t-shirts).

But, this is so company specific there is no way to generalize. Just ask. The worst feeling in the word is going to a new job improperly dressed.


The shirt and shoes sound fine. Hold off on the denim skirt until you’ve seen what your co-workers wear or until you have an opportunity to ask another woman who has worked there for a while. I have a similar skirt, and while I don’t hesitate to wear it to Mass with a cute top, super-conservative offices might frown on it.

Maybe you could wear the shirt and shoes with a dressier skirt or pair of trousers for now.


Ditto to the above. Depends on your office, though. A high-end operation would want good dress slacks or a slightly more tailored skirt. But a lot of places don’t expect the summer help to “dress the part.” Even in my executive suite, the kids come in wearing flip-flops – you can hear them all day long: slap, slap, slap, slap. I think it’s gross but I’m older than the solar system.


It all depends on the company. I work in a library and we can’t wear flip flops (too dangerous) nor too revealing clothes. As I type this, I am wearing khaki capris and a pink patterned shirt with brown closed toed sandals.


I am sitting here typing this from work… I am wearing a jean skort and an upscale tank… but it really depends on where you work. When I have business meetings, I wear a suit or dress, but when I have to work outside I will wear jeans or shorts, tees or hoodies. But I know my work is not the norm. When I worked in a more professional setting I wore skirts or suits everyday. It totally depends on what you do and what others in the same place wear. If I know I am going to be doing something I can get dirty doing, I will dress down that day.


You said it. The dress code shifts according to the type of office, the type of job, the level of your position . . .

The rule of thumb is that if you want to get ahead, dress to the level of the job you want, not the job you have.


I would say for a 21 year old summer hire, I would not expect the same level of dress as I would from a full time hire.

We all know there is a limited budget - I wouldn’t expect you to buy a wardrobe for a summer job. So, show respect - no cleavage, not too much skin, no college-trendy stuff.

You don’t say where you are working, but whatever the summer hires or entry level people are wearing is fine. Don’t buy a whole lot of stuff, though.


In my former life, I was a management consultant, and I never was sure of the details of my client’s dress code. Here are some guidelines slacks I came up with after 10 years of working –

  1. Always dress just a bit more professionally than others around you. If they are in capris, wear khakis. If they are in khakis, wear neutral dress or an appropriate length skirt (nothing above the knee - at or below is fine).

  2. You can never be dressed too conservatively

  3. Don’t wear sandals, no matter how expensive. Unless you work in the fashion business, Jimmy Choos are not appropriate.

  4. Avoid sleeveless dresses and shirts.

  5. Keep makeup and perfume very light. In particular, watch eye makeup - it’s not needed for most women beyond a little eye liner or mascara.

  6. When in doubt, remove an accessory. Too much jewelry is distracting.

  7. Be professional, confident, and comfortable. Dress to impress!

  8. Spend your money on pieces that will last, and pick up trendy pieces to complement (i.e. blouses) at inexpensive stores. I have several pairs of slacks that I purchased years ago and still wear, and basic pumps and shoes that still look hip and fresh because I pair them with a newer top. You’ll be grateful later when you don’t have to buy much to keep your looks fresh.


ps - notice I didn’t mention denim? IMHO it’s not appropriate in any business setting.

Not surprisingly, even before I became a manager, people thought I was one by my dress.


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