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Are Ugg boots too informal for work?

Ugg boots are a staple footwear choice for many Australian women since they offer both comfort and style for everyday wear. Despite this many are unsure whether Ugg boots are suitable to wear for work. Uggs are often seen as relatively informal shoes; they're ideal for wearing around the house, for a day out shopping or for casual events. The question is, are they too informal for a work environment?

Office-based environments

In May this year the Australian immigration department made fashion headlines as it banned its staff from wearing Ugg boots to work. A department official explained that civil servants had been dressing a little too casually for the office and that the boots were part of a longer list of items deemed too unprofessional for business.

Although it's somewhat unusual for individual corporations to make the news with their staff dress code, the headline could suggest that many other employers across Australia also deem Uggs boots too informal for work.

However, it could simply be a matter of opinion which differs between employers. Many office-based workplaces have a smart-casual dress code with staff expected to look presentable and well put together, even if they're not representing the company to the general public.

Whilst Ugg boots are more casual than they are smart, they could be made to look more formal when dressed up with the right kind of outfit. Unless Uggs are explicitly banned from the workplace employers may deem them acceptable attire providing that you continue to dress smartly overall.

Customer-facing jobs

Rules on workplace attire often change depending on the environment. Whilst office-based workplaces often ask for smart-casual dress, customer-facing environments - for example in the retail, leisure or public services industries - may require stricter uniforms or dress codes. It's important that businesses and organisations portray themselves professionally at all times to the general public which is why it's not uncommon for employers to ban Uggs and enforce rules on appropriate footwear. For this reason, it's not usually recommended to wear Uggs to work if you deal with customers on a daily basis.

Despite this, more casual establishments such as pubs and bars may find Uggs acceptable and be happy for employees to wear them. In these types of environments staff are often on their feet for long periods of time and comfort is therefore important. Employers may encourage staff to wear the footwear they feel most comfortable in and Uggs could be an appropriate choice. Ultimately it comes down to the style, atmosphere and clientele of the business; whilst Uggs would look out of place on a waitress in a formal Italian restaurant, they would look appropriately informal when worn by bar staff in a friendly local pub.

Different attitudes

Overall, attitudes towards Ugg boots can vary between employers and workplaces and there are no hard and fast rules of their appropriateness. As with all other types of clothing it's important to assess the environment you're working in and ask yourself whether Ugg boots fits in with the atmosphere and ethos of the business before choosing to wear them to work.