Long Sleeves vs. Short Sleeve Shirts For The Office

When you work in an office or business environment, you will find that traditionally the dress code is a long sleeve shirt and dress pants or slacks. This has been true for years, but recently, some offices have become a bit more lax with their dress codes. More often than not, offices have moved towards a business casual dress code. Business casual typically implies wearing khakis or a nice pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, v-neck sweaters, and a nice pair of leather shoes. The purpose of business casual is to allow the employees to be comfortable while still maintaining a look of professionalism.

The problem with business casual is it is a very loose term. Business casual does not have a standard terminology. The dress code behind business casual often varies from office to office. Many employees might hear the word “casual” and have their own take on it.

The issue with this is, they could be correct in what they wear, or the office might deem it unprofessional. Employees might see business casual as a short sleeve polo shirt or a short sleeve button-down shirt. This could fall in line with your office’s dress code, but it may also make you look unprofessional to your employer.

With that being said, today, we are going to dive into long sleeves vs. short sleeve shirts for the office environment.

Are Short Sleeve Shirts Professional?

About 80% of the time, the answer to this question is going to be no. Short sleeve shirts are not typically deemed professional when working in an office.

When you walk into any modern office, it is rare you are going to see anyone wearing a short sleeve shirt. Many employers consider short sleeve shirts to be casual. It comes down to the company and its specific policies.

There are plenty of startup companies that allow their employees to wear short sleeve polo shirts. You may observe this trend in IT jobs such as programming, where the employers will let the developers wear whatever they want. However, in a traditional business environment of an established company, you will not be allowed to wear a short-sleeve shirt. They are not the most professional looking.

A lot of employers are going to find short sleeve shirts to look tacky in an office environment. If you try to dress up the shirt with a tie, it doesn’t fit a professional environment. It looks messy and gives off a lack of balance. Short sleeves button-up shirts are synonymous with uniforms for companies. For example, UPS and FedEx drivers both wear button-up short sleeve shirts. I may sound far fetched, but longer sleeves do give off a professional appearance.

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Should I Wear A Long Sleeve Or Short Sleeve Shirt?

You may ask yourself if you should wear a long sleeve shirt or a short sleeve shirt to your office. It’s a reasonable question. Many people find long sleeve shirts to be uncomfortable, hot, and expensive. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of long sleeve shirt brands on the market that are both affordable and comfortable. Shirts have come a long way in both price and material. Many of the shirts on the market will run you around twenty dollars and breathe well, and are made out of a nice blended material, so you avoid that stiff itchy feeling you may be accustomed to. This will allow you to maintain the look of professionalism while also maintaining comfort.

An excellent tip for finding a middle ground for these shirts is to roll up the sleeves. There are plenty of style guides online that offer steps on properly rolling the sleeves up on a long-sleeve button-up while maintaining a look of professionalism. You’re much better off going this route of rolling your sleeves up midday at your office rather than showing up in a short-sleeve shirt. A short sleeve shirt looks far too casual and may even give your employer the idea that you are there to relax, not necessarily work.

On the other hand, short sleeve shirts are comfortable, cool, and overall more enjoyable to work in. However, a short-sleeve shirt does not give off a professional appearance. Many employers will always see a short sleeve shirt as too casual of a look.

Your best option is always to choose a long sleeve shirt to wear to your office, as it will maintain a look of professionalism.

Can You Wear Short Sleeves To Work?

The dress code of your office may differ from others. While there are offices that maintain a strict business attire dress code, there are many that do not. Personally, I have worked in offices that required me to wear a suit and tie, but I have also worked in companies that allowed you to wear a nice t-shirt and jeans.

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Whether or not you can wear short sleeves to your job is really dependent on what the owner prefers. A good tip for starting a new job is to overdress for your first day. Even if you stick out a little bit in the office, you will at least show you care about the job, which will allow you to get a feel for what others are wearing in the office.

Some businesses have “Casual Friday.” As the name implies, Casual Friday is the day of the week that allows employees to dress casually. Casual has a broad range, and it depends on the policy of the office you work in. For some, casual Friday can mean a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. For others, it can mean a nice v-neck sweater with a pair of khakis.

Whether or not you can wear a short sleeve to work is entirely up to the office you work in. Unfortunately, there is no universal dress code for office environments.

Are Short Sleeves OK For Business Casual?

Business casual is always a topic of debate, specifically amongst men. Business casual, which typically implies you can wear khakis, a polo shirt, a nice v-neck sweater, or a more casual button-down shirt.

With that being said, are short sleeves ok for business casual? Well, it depends. As stated above, some offices may be completely ok with their employees wearing a short sleeve shirt. This usually means you can wear a nice fitted polo with a pair of khakis or slacks. From my experience, a polo has always been the exception, but I have never seen anyone wear a short sleeve button-up shirt in an office that called for business casual attire. The reason is, they do not look good at all. They look unprofessional. Many people attribute short sleeve shirts to professions such as bus drivers, exterminators, or any other job that gives their employees a more informal looking uniform. Short sleeve t-shirts give off the appearance of a mass-produced uniform and make you look tacky in an office. Not to mention, they are very hard to pull off. Outfits that wear a short sleeve t-shirt with dress pants and a tie will always look unbalanced. The short sleeves are too loose, and the look is never fully able to come together.

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Employers want their employees to look their best while still being comfortable. There are plenty of long sleeve button-up t-shirts that will keep you cool while still looking professional. Short sleeve button up t-shirts give off the vibe of a person on vacation, and you want to give off a look that you are a professional who is in a professional environment.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes down to wearing long sleeve shirts vs. short sleeves shirts in the office, long sleeve shirts are your best pick hands down.

A long sleeve shirt is going to give you a clean and professional look that employers are looking for. They come in a variety of styles, fits, and materials making for a clean, professional look that will keep you comfortable.

On the other hand, a short sleeve shirt will come off as way too casual in most cases. Short sleeve shirts are very hard to make look professional. The last thing you want is your boss to think you don’t take your job seriously. Even if you have a basic button-up short sleeve shirt when paired with dress pants, it creates a very unbalanced look. Pair that with a tie, and the entire outfit becomes a nightmare. Your best bet is to stick with the traditional button-up long sleeve shirt.

If you’re looking to wear a long sleeve shirt but maintain a level of comfort, you may be able to get away with rolling the sleeves up depending on your employer. There are many style guides online that can teach you how to go about this in a stylish way without looking sloppy. Either way, when it comes down to short sleeve vs long sleeve shirts for the office, long sleeves win every time.

We are sure once you find a long sleeve shirt that fits you, you will look professional and sharp!