How to Decode the Unspoken Dress Code at Work

How to Decode the Unspoken Dress Code at Work

Perhaps your office doesn’t have a formal dress code. It would be a mistake to conclude that you can wear whatever you want to work. Whether or not standards for dressing are specifically spelled out in a company handbook, you should be aware that professionals working in your industry do tend to share certain expectations about how their colleagues will dress for work. Consider the following tips for navigating the unspoken dress codes you’ll encounter in several of Australia’s top industries:


If the professionals at your office handle clients’ money as their primary business model, opt for a conservative style of dressing. While finance industry dress code standards have relaxed in the recent past, even at historically conservative organisations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, it’s still wise to favour a traditional look.

A tailored suit is a safe choice of apparel in a financial services environment. Pair a suit with a dress shirt or blouse, preferably a tailored style with a collar. Avoid low necklines. Nowadays, skirt suits are appropriate but not strictly necessary; you can opt for a pants suit if you prefer. Always wear hosiery; if you’re wearing a skirt suit, tights are a smart choice. The skirt should be knee length or longer. If you’re wearing a pants suit, socks are acceptable.


If you’re working in a law firm or other legal setting, corporate attire is typically appropriate. Conservative business suits are the norm. Pair your suit with a high-quality blouse or tailored shirt. Wear hosiery. Avoid dressing provocatively.


If you work in a medical administrative setting, it’s wise to ask your recruiter, boss or colleagues for advice about what to wear. In some cases, a uniform may be provided for you. It’s also possible that scrubs might be the correct attire for the job. Otherwise, observe how the medical administrators in your office dress for work, and follow their lead.

In any case, for hygienic reasons, you’ll always want to wear hosiery to work – either tights or socks. If you’re working in a role that requires you to be on your feet in a hospital all day, you might wish to try wearing compression socks.


In many cases, tech professionals in Australia prefer a business casual style of dress. For example, staff at noteworthy tech company Intel advises Australian employees to dress in a business casual style except when meeting with customers, in which case a more corporate style of dress is encouraged.

What, exactly, does business casual attire entail? Amber M. Chenoweth, Ph.D., answers this question well in her article about dressing for success at She advises workers that good choices for business casual attire include polo shirts or other collared shirts. Pair your polos with skirts or slacks in conservative colours such as black or neutral. She also advises workers to avoid wearing jeans, short skirts or tight clothing in a business casual environment.

Wearing athleisure style clothing to work would also be a fashion mistake, according to Madeline Stone at Business Insider. She advises workers in business casual environments to leave the tank tops, leggings, sweatpants and yoga pants at home.

The Right Footwear for Women to Wear to Work in Any Industry in Australia reports a bit of footwear advice that Pamela Jabbour gives to women in Australia. As the founding executive of an Australian company called Total Image Group that specialises in corporate uniforms, Jabbour has given serious consideration to the details of workplace attire. She advises women to completely avoid wearing open-toed shoes of any kind, because open-toed shoes appear unprofessional.

If you like wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes, you’re in luck. Australia’s laws against discrimination prohibit employers from forcing women to wear high heels to work.

If you do want to wear high-heeled pumps, they’re appropriate choices in corporate office environments. In a hospital or other healthcare facility, high heels may sometimes be considered inappropriate, depending on the role you’re working in.

Things to Consider When You Aren’t Sure What to Wear to Work

When in doubt, it’s better to overdress than under dress for a job. While underdressing is considered a faux pas in some circles, remember that you always have the option to remove your suit jacket if you find yourself in a situation where you’re overdressed for the environment.

Following these unspoken rules will ensure that you’re always appropriately dressed for work.

About the Author: Andrej is an avid internet technologist. He believes that the key to modern marketing excellence is a constant willingness to learn and adapt to the ever-changing digital world.


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