Saturday, July 12, 2008

Formal wear vs. work wear, or are they of similar beings?

Okay, obviously this post came about as a result of my frustrations of discrimination against believing that 'baju kurung', one of Malaysia's national wear(or so it seems) , isn't the only option that is left to wear to work/study. Sorry to say this, but it is one of the cause for my reluctance of being involved with government agencies.. not that I am an anti but yeah, what's wrong with being simple and quirky(I dislike this word but had to put it up due to vocabulary-block, hehhh)?

I was attending an academic function in a local higher education institute wearing a black shirt inside, a slightly fancy (detailed by waist-bow and 2 big buttons to pull the jacket together) but formal navy blue jacket, with an army green men trousers (imagine secondary school boy's uniform), clutched with a black belt with buckles; which to me was decent and I even feared of being overdressed being there with such attire. Upon arriving home, my mother greeted me with remarks like "Is that how you dressed going there?". Huh, mothers! And my dad was trying to give me a fashion advice just now, that is to wear baju kurung during my school/work days. Pro, indeed :P.

There's no way that I'd look like these! (Picture use as a sample illustration only, I apologize if it displays your relatives or people that you know! Inconvenience is deeply regretted..)

Baju kurung, to me, is such a mess! I know that stating this might contradict my stand of embracing traditional values, tedious unnecessary things have to be put aside to give way to this fast-paced of modern world. Some things have to be kept simple in the name of practicality, which should be fine as long as moral boundary is taken into account when selecting your option. Imagine having to walk across blocks of buildings within a few minutes to get your office chores done with over-sized piece of clothes hanging around your feet, restraining every leaps of faith (OK I am exaggerating) you have to take... even more so, having to experience that under the heat of that blaring sun! Describing the situation itself had slightly suffocated me already! Another option is to make a long slit to the kurung's skirt but you'd be blamed for degrading the decency of baju kurung. Ahh whatever! And yeah, you won't smell as nice if you sweat a lot as there's not much ventilation if you're fabric is too thick and cheap! :P. I am so not against wearing kurung; there are times which required me to wear them throughout the weekend for kenduri, festivities, rituals and such.. but I am sure to be anywhere near a fan or air-conditioner to keep my temperature as cool as possible :D.

As I have two different roles in the institute (role as a student and as a researcher), things are a bit tricky! I have to look professional but at the same time youthful and a bit child-like(I have to add the latter as I always am :P. Now let's do a quick research on what defines work-wear and formal-wear (professional).

These (refer to image below) are also considered formal, but obviously I can't be wearing that to work, and they look hideous too! Hahahaha!

These are great, but am not sure would get other staffs' approvals though (like I care!):

What about this combination that makes it approved as work-wear? I plead myself not guilty!!

OK, after a few minutes Googling, I've came up with a satisfying answer from (what's with researching based on only one source, yeah I am just plain lazy)

Your Company's objective in establishing a formal dress code is to enable our employees to project the professional image that is in keeping with the needs of our clients and customers to trust us. Because our industry requires the appearance of trusted business professionals and we serve clients at our site on a daily basis, a more formal dress code is necessary for our employees. You must project the image of a trustworthy, knowledgeable business professional for the clients who seek our guidance, input, and professional services.

Formal Dress Code Guidelines

In a formal business environment, the standard of dressing for men and women is a suit, a jacket and pants or a skirt, or a dress paired with appropriate accessories.

Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your feet, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business. In our work environment, clothing should be pressed and never wrinkled. Torn, dirty, or frayed clothing is unacceptable. All seams must be finished. Any clothing that has words, terms, or pictures that may be offensive to other employees is unacceptable.
Dress Down Days

Certain days can be declared dress down days, generally Fridays. On these days, business casual clothing, although never clothing potentially offensive to others, is allowed. Clothing that has the company logo is encouraged. Sports team, university, and fashion brand names on clothing are generally acceptable. You might want to keep a jacket in your office for the days when a client unexpectedly appears on a dress down day, especially if the client is wearing a suit.
Formal Business Attire Recommendations
This is an overview of appropriate formal business attire. The lists tell you what is generally acceptable as formal business attire and what is generally not acceptable as formal business attire.

No dress code can cover all contingencies so employees must exert a certain amount of judgment in their choice of clothing to wear to work. If you experience uncertainty about acceptable, professional formal business attire for work, please ask your supervisor or your Human Resources staff.
Slacks, Pants, and Suit Pants

Slacks that are similar to Dockers and other makers of cotton or synthetic material pants, wool pants, flannel pants, pants that match a suit jacket, and nice looking dress synthetic pants are acceptable. Inappropriate slacks or pants include any that are too informal. This includes jeans, sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, and any spandex or other form-fitting pants such as people wear for exercise or biking.
Skirts, Dresses, and Skirted Suits

Dresses, skirts, skirts with jackets, dressy two-piece knit suits or sets, and skirts that are split at or below the knee are acceptable. Dress and skirt length should be at a length at which you can sit comfortably in public. Short, tight skirts that ride halfway up the thigh are inappropriate for work. Mini-skirts, skorts, sun dresses, beach dresses, and spaghetti-strap dresses are inappropriate for the office.
Shirts, Tops, Blouses, and Jackets

Shirts, dress shirts, sweaters, tops, and turtlenecks are acceptable attire for work if they contribute to the appearance of formal, professional dress. Most suit jackets or sport coats are also desirable attire for the office. Inappropriate attire for work includes tank tops; midriff tops; shirts with potentially offensive words, terms, logos, pictures, cartoons, or slogans; halter-tops; tops with bare shoulders or plunging necklines; golf-type shirts; sweatshirts; and t-shirts.
Shoes and Footwear

Conservative walking shoes, dress shoes, oxfords, loafers, boots, flats, dress heels, and backless shoes are acceptable for work. Not wearing stockings or socks is inappropriate. Athletic shoes, tennis shoes, thongs, flip-flops, slippers, and any casual shoe with an open toe are not acceptable in the office.
Accessories and Jewelry

Tasteful, professional ties, scarves, belts, and jewelry are encouraged. Jewelry should be worn in good taste, with limited visible body piercing.
Makeup, Perfume, and Cologne

A professional appearance is encouraged and excessive makeup is unprofessional. Remember that some employees are allergic to the chemicals in perfumes and makeup, so wear these substances with restraint.
Hats and Head Covering

Hats are not appropriate in the office. Head Covers that are required for religious purposes or to honor cultural tradition are allowed.

If clothing fails to meet these standards, as determined by the employee’s supervisor and Human Resources staff, the employee will be asked not to wear the inappropriate item to work again. If the problem persists, the employee may be sent home to change clothes and will receive a verbal warning for the first offense. All other policies about personal time use will apply. Progressive disciplinary action will be applied if dress code violations continue.


This sample policy is provided for guidance only. The provided information, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct.

But the disclaimer doesn't guarantee the accuracy of my decision. So now, how do you guys think? Any two cents from government officials? Lecturers, perhaps? :D

p/s: This is another witty article on Professional wear Read if you have the time.

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