MENLO PARK, Calif. — Hoping to move up and land a better title along with that corner office at your workplace? You’ll want to make sure you’re dressed for the part then. A new study shows that what people wear to work plays a significant role in whether or not they’ll get a promotion.

Eight in ten company managers agree that an employee’s clothing choice matters when it comes to upward mobility, according to a survey of 1,000 adult U.S. workers, along with more than 300 senior managers and 300 Human Resources managers at companies with at least 20 employees. The survey was commissioned by OfficeTeam, a top staffing firm that provides temps for companies around the world.

Office workers
You may be one of the best at your job, but what you wear to the office may be just as important as your performance when it comes to deciding if you’re right for a promotion, a new survey finds.

“Dressing professionally establishes credibility and helps others envision you in a role with greater responsibility,” says Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, in a release.

Wearing inappropriate attire to the office happens more than you might expect. Of the senior managers surveyed, 44 percent said they’ve had to address an employee about their choice of clothing, while about one-third wound up sending a poorly-dressed worker home for the day. That said, it’s not the easiest of conversations for many bosses: only half felt comfortable taking up the issue. Among the other half, 35 percent felt awkward addressing a worker’s attire, while the other 15 percent didn’t feel right having the conversation at all.

So what’s appropriate and what’s not? Most HR managers agreed that it’s OK to dress down if done right. Jeans, leggings, and sneakers are more acceptable than they were in a similar survey taken five years ago, while shorts, tank tops, or tops that expose one or both shoulders have become less acceptable in that same timeframe.

“While many organizations have relaxed their dress codes, especially for warmer months, employees shouldn’t assume casual attire or the latest fashion trends are OK for the office,” says Britton. “It’s always a good idea to follow company policies and observe what colleagues in more senior positions typically wear.”

Many professionals suggest keeping an entirely separate wardrobe for work attire, which could help lessen the time it takes in deciding what to wear each day. In fact, two-thirds of the respondents followed this practice, but interestingly, it still took workers surveyed an average of 11 minutes a day to choose their workwear. Men turned out to be the pickier gender, taking 12 minutes to choose their outfit, versus 9 minutes for women.

Age matters too. Millennials (18 to 34) took the longest to pick their work outfit, needing 13 minutes to find the right combination, while the workers over 55 needed the least amount of time to decide — just 7 minutes. Middle-aged workers fell in the middle, averaging about 10 minutes for their selections.

So if your job review is around the corner and you think it may be your time to move up, remember: it may pay off to be extra thoughtful in your workwear decision.

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