2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what’s too casual for a weekend in the office, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on comfortable clothes for late nights in the office.
Today’s reader K asks a great question…
I’m a junior associate at a large corporate law firm, and I’ve been working a lot of weekends. During the week, I’m one of the more formally dressed people on my floor (there’s a fairly wide range). However, I walk about an hour to work as my exercise on the weekends, so I’m usually wearing sweats and a hoodie while I’m working on Saturday and Sunday. Personally, I figure that if I’m coming in off business hours, I can wear whatever I want as long as it’s clean and fairly neat. I have never run into a partner, and I usually just keep my door shut anyways. However, I have run into associates while going to grab food/coffee etc, and I’m wondering whether it’s inappropriate to let them see me in my truly casual clothes. Should I be wearing jeans, or something at least a little more fashionable?
I wrote a post on what to wear on a working weekend a long, long time ago that got some flack when it was picked up by Above the Law — I believe one of the AtL commenters said if they were working on the weekend, they felt they could come in wearing tighty-whities and roller skates for all the senior management had to say about it. In honesty, that post was inspired after I’d spent a weekend filing a brief with a partner — I had shown up at 10 on Saturday wearing jeans, wet hair pulled back, and a sweater, having finished the Friday night work around 3 AM on Saturday morning. The partner didn’t bat an eye, but the temp secretary I had to supervise (who had about 20 years on me) — well, that was a different story. She took one look at me, rolled her eyes, and (I think) perhaps even asked if I was a lawyer. Gee…thanks. (Pictured: Working on the weekend, originally uploaded to Flickr by jfranklin.)
So I think it’s important to distinguish situations when you’re working on the weekend.
- Sweats are fine if you’re running into a colleague in the coffee room (or, hey, tighty whities and roller skates). (Personally, I’ve decided the Athleta catalog is my new inspirational “gee I wish my life/weekend fashions looked like that.”)
- If you’re working closely with a colleague or superior, though, I’d say to make it “nicer” casual clothes. To that end, think trouser jeans or dark rinse jeans, and perhaps a top or cardigan from your workweek collection.
- Dress for respect if you expect to supervise people — whether it be junior colleagues or secretaries. To that end, look for an authoritative blazer or cardigan. (C’mon, you know I love a blazer.) You can have fun with it, also — wear a hoodie under the blazer, or a concert T.
Readers, what’s your working-on-the-weekend outfit style? What are your thoughts on sweatpants, jeans, and blazers?