Workplace Wardrobes Can Get Wacky

May 21, 2013 (PLANSPONSOR) – A word of advice for workers considering wearing pajamas, a chicken suit or parachute pants to the office—don't.

In a survey from placement firm OfficeTeam, eight in 10 (80%) executives interviewed said clothing choices affect an employee’s chances of earning a promotion. Respondents gave some pretty hilarious examples of outfits that missed the mark.

Managers also were asked to recount the strangest outfits they have heard of or seen someone wearing to work, not in observance of Halloween. They included: 

  • A dinosaur costume;
  • Pajamas;
  • Parachute pants;
  • A chicken suit;
  • Coveralls;
  • A space suit;
  • Studs and motorcycle gear; and
  • A wolf mask.

Some professionals gave a new meaning to "mix-and-match" outfits:

  • A t-shirt, tie and flip-flops;
  • Short pants and a winter jacket;
  • One red sock and one white sock;
  • Tennis shoes and men’s knicker pants;
  • Shorts and house slippers; and
  • A red suit with sporty footwear.


Others donned apparel that left little to the imagination like: 

  • A see-through dress;
  • Fishnet stockings and stilettos;
  • A bathing suit;
  • A tube top; and
  • A backless shirt.


This gear was more appropriate for the gym than the workplace:

  • A muscle shirt;
  • A sweat suit;
  • Yoga pants; and
  • Very tight bike shorts.

These outfits just didn't make the "cut": 

  • Torn jeans;
  • A vest with a big hole in the back; and
  • A t-shirt with cut-off sleeves.


And the following getups might be viewed as fashion faux pas both in and out of the office: 

  • Saggy pants;
  • Sandals with socks; and
  • Flood pants.


The good news for the wardrobe-challenged is that proper attire may carry less weight than it did six years ago—93% of executives surveyed in 2007 tied professional wear to advancement prospects. Among those respondents, 33% said clothing significantly affects a person's chances of moving up the ladder, versus just 8% who feel this way today. Related responses for 2013 were “somewhat” at 72% (versus 60% in 2007) and “not at all” at 20% (versus 7% in 2007).

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.