In a recent TikTok video, Dani Klarić, a young interior decorator/creative director, gleefully shared her workday outfit: a white miniskirt, a short-sleeve shirt worn totally unbuttoned to reveal a lacy yellow bra and a pair of sheer yellow thigh-high socks.
“If I had a corporate job this is how I would go dressed to work,” the TikToker says confidently in the post, which has garnered more than 200,000 likes. “Like who’s going to stop me?”
Gen Z is getting back to work and back to the office, but they’re not dressing for the part — at least by traditional standards. On TikTok, there are thousands of videos tagged #workoutfits that show Gen Zers and young millennials flaunting office attire — short skirts, sheer tops and sweats — that would have once merited a serious conversation with HR about looking either too casual or too provocative.
“I understand dress codes, but I think they have become outdated,” said Keely, a 31-year-old who lives in Fort Lauderdale and works in a corporate job. Keely, who likes to embrace her figure with form-fitting clothing in bright colors, said it shouldn’t matter what she wears so long as she’s getting her work done.
“How a person dresses is a statement of themselves,” she said. “I want to look good so I feel good.”
Those working in human resources are observing the younger generation’s approach to office dressing with a mixture of consternation and wonder.
“I have noticed a few issues among younger people,” said David Bradshaw, 45, president of Northstar PMO, an outsourcing HR firm based in Boston. He said he’s observed younger workers dressing too casually.
Cindy O’Peka, with O’Peka Human Resources and Consulting in California, has long been in favor of more relaxed dress codes in the office, but she thinks sometimes the new generation sometimes seems more clueless than conscious of what they’re doing.
She’s observed some outfits on younger employees that are much more “appropriate for clubbing” than a professional setting.
“[But] I think they might actually feel like they are dressing up because that was what they wear when they go out,” said the 41-year-old.
Clothing brands, meanwhile, have been quick to note and market to the changing norms. Trend-driven LA brand Reformation caused a stir online last month with an email advertising their ‘work edit,’ with models donning their “office-ready” strappy dresses, cropped blazers and short-shorts.
“Add ‘best dressed’ in the office to your resume,” the email read.
Suzanne Smallshaw, the senior director of fashion and styling at Rent the Runway — a company that rents designer apparel and accessories — told The Post that as workers return to office they’ve noticed the number of rentals of traditional “business formal” attire is almost half what it was in 2019.
“They’re saying goodbye to the basic black suit or sheath, instead opting for more printed, bold options as they return to office,” Smallshaw explained, adding that denim utilization is up 56% since 2020, indicating a more casual workplace.
Bradshaw said that some companies aren’t fighting the cropped blazers and midriffs, and they’re just letting employees wear “pretty much what they want” as a “perk” of sorts. Gen Z may get to have their cake and show off their toned midriff to cubicle mates.
“[Expression] is very important in some industries — especially the creative industries,” he said. “People want to bring not just their work to the table, but their personality and their style and their creativity.”