Survey: 44% of executives have approached employees ‘about inappropriate attire’

We all know that it’s entirely possible to mess up in the personal style department at work. In fact, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam showed that 44% of top managers have approached an employee because of “inappropriate” clothing.

So it makes sense that style could also have a big influence on moving up the corporate ladder — a staggering 80% of managers and 86% of employees said they think that what you wear to work can impact your chances of scoring a promotion.

Independent research firms surveyed two groups — more than 1,000 American adult office employees in addition to 300 senior managers and 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. Here are some of the points that stood out.

What happens when you wear the wrong clothes to work

While workers spend an average of 11 minutes daily picking out clothes the office, some people need to make better choices — 32% of managers say they’ve gone so far as to make someone go back home because of what they wore.

Those ages 18-34 spend more time choosing work clothes than any other group at 13 minutes daily on average, while those 55 and older spend the least amount of time at seven minutes daily on average. Men spend an average of 12 minutes daily, while women spend an average of nine minutes.

Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, commented on the research:

“Dressing professionally establishes credibility and helps others envision you in a role with greater responsibility,” she said. “While many organizations have relaxed their dress codes, especially for warmer months, employees shouldn’t assume casual attire or the latest fashion trends are OK for the office. It’s always a good idea to follow company policies and observe what colleagues in more senior positions typically wear.”

So, what’s in and what’s out?

Even though different groups spend varying amounts of time choosing clothes for work, it’s wise to draw the line somewhere. The research shows that flip-flops, tank tops, and shorts have fallen out of favor over the course of the last five years, among others, according to HR managers. But on the other hand, they say that tennis shoes, jeans, and leggings are among the clothing items that are “more acceptable” in office settings today versus back then.

So while 67% of workers say they have a supply of clothes that are only for work, making the right choices could mean this difference between getting a promotion and failing to.