Getting dressed for work is hard enough without having to figure out what to wear on a company outing. Now that summer is here, it’s likely that there will be a company picnic or a company barbecue in your future.
This is not an occasion to wear sloppy clothing. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you can ignore all of the rules of professional attire. Make sure your clothing is clean, in good condition, and wrinkle free. Everyone will understand if your look is a little rumpled at the end of the day but, people will notice if your look starts out in less than pristine condition.
Cut offs are very trendy this year but, they are too casual and unkempt looking for a professional event. Avoid any clothing that has a raw hem and strings hanging down. Also, do not wear pants that have the pockets sticking out from the hem. This shows it’s both too casual and too short for anything work related.
This is not the time for daisy dukes and a halter top. Yes, this is a picnic or a barbecue but, remember that this is, first, a work event. Your co-workers and boss will be there. So, choose clothing that will maintain a professional image while still being appropriate for a picnic.
Remember, nothing short, nothing sheer, nothing low-cut and, nothing backless. Also, your clothes should fit, not cling. A good rule of thumb is that you should definitely be covered from a few inches below your clavicle to a few inches above your knees.
For women, I suggest Bermuda shorts or capris for your bottom. This way, you will be casual and cool without showing too much skin. Also, you’ll be able to participate in games without fear of flashing your coworkers. Only wear an appropriate length skirt or dress if you’re absolutely sure that you won’t be playing any games or sitting on a picnic blanket. Otherwise, it’s safer to just wear pants.
For the top, I suggest either a sleeveless top or a short sleeve top. A tank top is a little too strappy for a work event.
For shoes, think about what you’ll be doing. If you’re participating in the potato sack race, you’ll want something sturdy, like a canvas sneaker or a skimmer. If you’re just going to be eating and socializing, then you can wear nice sandals. If you do wear open shoes, make sure your toes and heels aren’t still scruffy from winter.
As for accessories, make sure your accessories are casual and not too serious. Cute, summery accessories will help keep your look fun and casual. A straw or canvas tote bag is a good option for a picnic or a barbecue.
For men, a cool option would be cargo shorts or khaki shorts. Remember to wear a belt. It will make you look more polished.
For your shirt, you have a few options. You can wear a polo shirt, a cotton button down, or a nice t-shirt. Whatever you wear, make sure it’s ironed and in good condition. Also, as this is a picnic, you can wear your shirt tucked in or untucked. It’s your call.
For shoes, there are sneakers, boat shoes, loafers, and sandals. Many people have very strong opinions about men in sandals so, you will have to decide whether this is right for you. As a native Floridian, I do have to say that most men cannot pull off the sandal look anywhere but the beach. Proceed at your own risk.
As for sneakers, there are a variety of sneakers. So, you have options. If you wear shorts, however, low top sneakers will look best.
Regardless of what shoe you choose, make sure your socks are the right kind of sock. You do not want to be the guy in socks and sandals. Or, equally dorky, is the guy in knee high crew socks and shorts. Out of the above shoe choices, only sneakers really require socks. The other options will look better without socks. For your sneakers, wear very short socks that come to your ankle or lower.
A company picnic, while fun, is still a work function. So, make sure your clothing choices reflect this.
What are your experiences and tips for summer work events? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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About the author: Jen Small is a writer who is originally from South Florida. A former recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, she has also worked in several different industries – real estate, insurance, construction, and education. Jen has now taken this experience to help others as a resume writer and designer. She currently lives and works in South Korea.