Work Style

    Reader Question: How to Style a Company Uniform?

    1st October 2012

    Happy October! Combining my favorite weather with my least favorite holiday (I’m looking at you, Halloween), greeting this month is always a little bittersweet for me. On the plus side, crunching leaves underfoot! On the other, girls dressed as naughty nurses in frost-inducing weather! Hot apple cider! My two-year-old niece wanting to wear the costume of a Disney Princess who wears a seashell bra! I guess I just have to, as the song goes, take the good with the bad.

    So let’s just go and get on with it, shall we?

    Today’s question comes from reader Snyder, who asks:

    Dear Style Girlfriend,

    In a few days, I’ll be starting a new job for which I will be required to wear a company-issued polo shirt.  Per company dress code, I’m not allowed to layer anything on top of it; layering underneath is acceptable.

    The problem is that it’s going to start getting cold here soon and I’m going to need long sleeves.  Is it acceptable for a grown man to layer long sleeves under short in a situation like this and is there any way to do it without looking like I’m in junior high?

    If it helps, I’ll also be wearing slim-fit Dockers and probably Clark’s desert boots.  Any insight you could provide would be appreciated.

    These workplace wardrobe conundrum questions are great because I know there are a lot of guys out there also scratching their heads over how to make their office attire more stylish. After all, I’ve already dealt with a few questions like that this year.

    I haven’t worked at a job with an imposed uniform since I got fired from Bruegger’s Bagels when I was fifteen (now THERE’S a story for another time. And yes, I’m still bitter). And besides, the bagel shop-issue black polo and khakis were covered by an apron and topped with a baseball cap that always smelled like smoked turkey when I was on the clock, so there wasn’t much room for injecting my own personality into my workwear. After getting canned, I burned that hat and never looked back. So, y’know, closure.

    That said, I mean, is it acceptable to layer long sleeves under a short sleeve polo? Sure, I don’t want my readers catching hypothermia!

    Since I don’t really have any non-turkey-scented work wardrobe experience, I asked my friend Katie, who works in pharmaceutical sales for any advice, given her own polo-related wardrobe challenges. When I posed the question of how to make a grown-up uniform still look stylish, she said:

    So my current manager is gay and whenever I am with him he has to rock the company polo too, and he always will have on great shoes, coordinating belt, and non-pleated khakis, chinos, etc….and he always has on a great watch too. It’s not too corporate, but not too sporty.

    I guess it’s kinda the little accessories that make me not even really notice he’s wearing the company polo because he always looks put together…. Your reader mentioned that he’s worried about wearing a short-sleeve polo when it gets cold out, he should ask for long sleeved ones.

    His company should accommodate; they gave us a few long sleeves after reps spoke up.

    (SG note: I would wait until it actually gets cold out – you don’t want to be the new guy making demands in his first week on the job. Nobody likes that guy.)

    Otherwise I think a a long sleeve Dri-Fit UnderArmour shirt might look better than wearing a cotton long sleeve under the polo….hmmmm….hope this helps!!

    {providing moral – and structural – support for Katie at her wedding this summer}

    …I think so; I hope it helped you Snyder as well!

    Readers, tell me:

    • Do you wear any kind of uniform at work?

    • How do you style it to feel more like “you?”