We have been recruiting for not for profit organisations for more than a decade, and while fashions come and go, one thing remains the same; it’s impossible to nail down a professional dress code for the charity sector. There is such a wide variety of roles with different demands; people who work in events or fundraising won’t necessarily wear the same thing as those in HR or finance, simply out of practicality. In the 12 years we have been charity recruiters, we’ve learned that simply saying “smart casual” can be interpreted an infinite amount of ways and we’ve seen some outfits that are smarter than casual, some that are more casual than smart, and some outfits that defy belief with their eccentricity.
If you’re unsure what to wear to work, we always advise to err on the side of caution. Dress up instead of down, even if it’s a casual wear environment. If you want to appear capable and reliable, you can’t go wrong with neutral colours, buttoned sleeves, pencil skirts and ties – you can always take your tie off if you’ve noticed nobody else is wearing one. You can also prepare ahead of time by looking at photos of the team on the charity’s website and imitating their style of clothing.
Another contentious point of office dress codes are high heels. While they often aesthetically compliment a professional outfit, they can also be a killer on your feet. If you think you’re going to be distracted from your work by your aching feet, bring a pair of flat soled shoes as back up. You shouldn’t be forced to wear heels – they’re a choice, not a requirement.
It’s hard to definitively say what to wear to your charity job and this can make preparing for an interview or starting a new job a little bit difficult. Luckily, we have a handy guide to cracking the office dress code, provided by expert UK business wear retailer T.M. Lewin. No longer will you have to stress about the colour of your tie or the collar of your shirt! Just follow these handy tips to be the best looking person in the office (as if you weren’t already).
What do you wear to work? Tie or no tie? Heels or no heels? Have you recently changed jobs and had to update your wardrobe? Tell us your office dress code stories by tweeting us @FlowCaritas.