It’s not surprising, therefore, that one of the most popular suggestions for a weekly survey question of late has to do with workplace dress codes. This week I asked readers if they had issued/received a notice/reminder about “appropriate” workplace attire yet this year.
Considering that we are now past the July 4 holiday, I was somewhat surprised that most – nearly two-thirds, in fact – had not gotten/sent one. On the other hand, even more said that their workplace policy on dress hadn’t changed over the past year – so perhaps, there wasn’t a perceived need. Or perhaps it was because roughly 80% either said the current policy was working ( 21.1% ), or was working “for the most part” ( 59.4% ).
Still – more than a third ( 35% ) had received the notification, roughly one-in-seven said that their dress code HAD changed and one-in-eight, asked if the policy was working, responded “you’re kidding, right?”
Whatever the reason, there was plenty of comment about summer dress, dress codes, and how they still often fall short of the desired results. There were some classic pearls of wisdom that I think should be woven into every dress code policy:
"If you can wear it in the shower, it is not appropriate for the office."
"The office is not the beach."
"Do you own a mirror?"
"Did you look in the mirror?"
"Busts, bellys, bottoms - should be covered!"
"Skin should never be considered an accessory to your outfit".
If you actually thought, "I wonder if I could get away with wearing this?," then you should not have worn it to the office.
"Casual is not the same as wrinkled."
And - while this will perhaps draw the ire of some, it was a constant theme in this week's responses (not to mention prior year's surveys); "Flip flops are never acceptable to wear in an office environment!"
Beyond the pearls, there were many wonderful verbatims - among the best:
"Our office has everything from spandex (three sizes too small) to beach wear to formal suit & tie. Supposedly we are business casual, but you wouldn't know that by the number of men & women who look like they should be out at night working a street corner. Don't even get me started on the piercings.."
"For the most part it is working even if some people are unhappy about it's strictness. Of course there are always those employees who want to argue that their "fashionable attire" complies with the dress code. For some reason they seem to think their opinion on the matter is more valid that the VP of HR."
"And the worst offenders are the ones who should cover up to avoid a severe case of visual pollution and emotional scarring of small children!"
"The most annoying thing I recognize is the clip-clopping of sandals. However, I'm fairly oblivious to what people wear."
"Flip flops! Flip flops! Flip flops! #@$%&!!!!!!!!!"
"With the amount of food passing through our office, the dress code comes down to "what fits today"!"
" I think what bothers me is I work in a casual dress workplace where shorts can be worn. Shorts must be thigh length and nothing shorter, but this is not enforced. The huge offenders to me are the ones that wear the short shorts, short crop tops and flip-flops, and then complain telling everyone constantly that they are cold when the air conditioner kicks on."
"We don't usually have to worry about inappropriately skimpy attire during the summer: our office is so cold, people are wearing sweaters year-round!"
"Our office is too cold for anyone to dress too skimpily!"
"When I sent a dress code reminder, the women in mini skirts tattled on the women wearing flip flops and vice versa, but neither acknowledged their own lack of adherence. It's crazy."
"We all seem to be updating the dress code on our own."
"If you have six toes on one foot - maybe you shouldn't wear sandals...that's all I'm saying."
One reader noted, "Thanks for the reminder - I've been needing to get that reminder out!"
But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who noted, "In a previous job I always said "We don't need a dress code. They are grown-ups, they know what to wear." One day during a spell of days in the high 90's, our Plant Manager came to get me. He said "Lorraine is standing out there in her bra. Do you want to go deal with it?" On this job I wrote a dress code."
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
|Banks and Trust Companies have long been the place of blue suits and white shirts for men and panty hose and pumps for women...no more. All of us ladies have conspired to stop wearing hose and also, have started wearing peek-a-boo toed shoes. Very liberating...we outnumber the men so they can not fire us all!|
|A dress code was issued several years ago because a certain VP didn't like the way one employee dressed. As such there were manhy exceptions allowed to the standard rules. The more attractive people get aways with more. The lets say "chuncky" people are sometimes told not to wear tights.|
|We are a Japanese company and our President and other expats wear sandals around work, including in the warehouse. It makes it hard to enforce dress code when they don't conform,too.|
|Being in HR, we have to set the example & follow the dress code exactly.|
|I work in a very small office where all of our business is conducted by phone. Our manager stops by the office once a week or so but has never said anything about dress. I think her attitude is that it really doesn't matter how we dress as long as we get the work done. However, most of us dress appropriately in slacks and a shirt, anyway. The "farthest out" anyone gets is a t-shirt now and then.|
|Definition of business attire =/ MTV fashion.|
|I have always put great effort in dressing professionally for work. It is disappointing at times to see that most other employees at the office could care less about their appearance and management seems oblivious to it. Way too casual, sandals, flip flops and low cut tops are not appropriate for an office environment. Fridays is worse if possible.|
|Surprisingly, even though we live in a truly tropical climate, we do not have an issue with employees dressing inappropriately. You may see the one-off woman missing the modesty gene and the guy who never learned how to use an iron, but overall good sense reigns. Besides, what's to complain about if you can wear an aloha shirt or muumuu to work every day? (Not that I do; it's strictly business dress and hose for me, unfortunately.)|
|We could do without a suit and tie once in awhile...|
|When I sent a dress code reminder, the women in mini skirts tattled on the women wearing flip flops and vice versa, but neither acknowledged their own lack of adherence. It's crazy.|
|While we allegedly have a 'dress code' it does not appear to apply to most of the younger set! Shirts stopping short of meeting their slacks or skirts, the bare legs, even some flip flops..... even too far gone to be referred to as business casual! The men have to wear long sleeves, neck ties, etc., what about the WOMEN??|
|I like to wear business attire in the work place and I've been told times and times again from co-workers (never management) to dress more casual. Some co-workers feel that management might decide to raise the dress code for everyone. Honestly I wish they did, so hopefully some people will not wear pieces of clothing put together like they don't have a full lenght mirror at their house.|
|we have not gotten the "reminder" yet but from judging from some of the things i have seen it will be out soon..... Our dress code went from casual to business attire but it seems as if only a few people have bothered and each morning when i put on a tie i wonder why i have made the change or if i shodul just go back to "the way it was."|
|We have finally joined the real world -- socks or hose are no longer required on a daily basis and open toe shoes and sandels are finally permitted. Sadly, many associates are still struggling to understand the difference between dress sandels and flip flops. They are likely to get this update to the dress code revoked for all of us.|
|Our office is too cold for anyone to dress too skimpily!|
|Although we enjoy a summer dress code, I still see some abuses such as heavy ladies wearing mini skirts and tight tops which make them look like hairy sausages parading around in heels.|
|We have a casual dress code everyday. While most employees dress professionally Mon-Thurs, there are always those one off days when you just want to throw on some jeans. It's wonderful to have this flexibility.|
|Wish there was a ban on "flip-flops" Biggest problem is revealing cleavage Dress casual, during the summer, too often resembles "ready to clean the garage"|
|We are in a bank/trust company environment and I have not noted any employees dressing in an inappropriate manner. Our dress code mandates professional attire and we seem to get it.|
|The dress code has some pretty well-defined parameters, including specific policies on open-toed shoes and rules-of-thumb ("More shoe than foot"). However, the dress code defers to manager interpretation which creates a surprising amount of variation.|
|Why people feel that they can show up to work with a lot less clothes on in the summer and still gain respect from fellow co-workers is beyond. I'm speaking as a women and disappointed in what some women choose to wear this time of year.|
|As a small private firm we benefit from being able to take our lead from our owner, sandals and shorts all summer...For The Win!|
|We don't usually have to worry about inappropriately skimpy attire during the summer: our office is so cold, people are wearing sweaters year-round!|
|Thanks for the reminder - I've been needing to get that reminder out!|
|Official dress is "business casual" - so no @#$% ties!! no ironing *&^%|} dress shirts!! After that, all is good!|
|Workers from other companies in our building are appalling - sloppy shorts with flip flops are the norm. I know we are a casual society but when did this become acceptable business attire?|
|Our dress code has always been a sore subject, as it applies only to the staff and not to the attorneys. As more and more attorneys come to work in very casual attire, it's not surprising that the staff push the policy to the edge.|
|It works for the men, but not for the women. It is there that there is a double standard.|
|Although capri pants, tank tops and flip flops are not "dress code" I think you have to stay on top of what is happening outside your office. Hey, this is Atlanta in July!!! You are going to see some feet and legs. Since the trend does not continue past summer, what does it hurt?|
|Funny you should ask this question. We just had our annual discussion yesterday with the "conservatives" voicing their annual concerns about stockingless women, skirts too short and blouses too low! I long for a day when we don't have to judge people at all but I doubt that will ever come. The work has to get done and we have to sort out the people who do the job versus those who don't much as I hate the process. But we can recognize that new generations bring new fashion norms and does it really matter if I don't wear stockings and someone else does? I suppose it's naive to think that there doesn't need to be a line drawn between acceptable and not but I really hate drawing it on little issues.|
|We all seem to be updating the dress code on our own: Peep-toe shoes made their appearance this year!|
|Our office is business casual year round. The summer attire seen most often is Khaki's and golf shirts for the guys. Casual dresses, skirts, capri's and summer tops and sandals for the ladies. Suits are worn for those with clients visiting or if they are making an apprearance in court. Flip flops or sneakers are only worn to and from the office. The message is, "If you can wear it in the shower, it is not approriate for the office." Everyone in our office complies with the dress code. It is not an issue.|
|It's good to work in an office where everyone is treated like an adult. Plus we don't have clients walking through, so the dress code is relaxed.|
|Why do men have to tuck in their shirts? That doesn't make the dress code less business casual. What is so wrong with open toe shoes? I'm certain that rule was created by a man.|
|I think what bothers me is I work in a casual dress workplace where shorts can be worn. Shorts must be thigh length and nothing shorter, but this is not enforced. The huge offenders to me are the ones that wear the short shorts, short crop tops and flip-flops, and then complain telling everyone constantly that they are cold when the air conditioner kicks on.|
|With the amount of food passing through our office, the dress code comes down to "what fits today"!|
|We actually have gone to a more casual workplace attire policy. Our corporate location is casual everyday, including jeans and shorts. A reminder of what is appropriate and inappropriate was sent to all corporate employees in May and we have not had any issues so far this summer.|
|Fortunately our notice was to remind people that clothes should remain professional even though we were introducing jeans on Fridays.|
|I find open toe shoes (on men or women) inappropriate for the workplace, even in a business casual or casual work dress code environment. I think it is a potential safety issue.|
|Every company seems to have a corporate dress policy, and one that varies by department. Most often the corporate policy is more conservative. As a newcomer, it can be difficult to decide what is truely acceptable and what people have just been getting away with or has become standard over time. Not to mention what is acceptable to stay where you are vs. what is acceptable if you are looking to get promoted.|
|We are business casual, but on Fridays allow walking shorts and Tshirts. Tshirts may not contain any offensive material (or holes). This does seem to boost morale. Our business is conducted over the phone, we have no walk in business.|
|Visable tatoos and body piercings should be against the dress code. I am amazed that professionals have such large tatoos and that they feel free to display them in the workplace. It used to be that jeans were allowed on casual Fridays. Now everyday is Friday. Our department manager did not allow jeans to be worn and every one was happy with Dockers and Polos. My new department has accountants wearing jeans every day of the week! I like leaving the suit at home most of the time but our dress code is too allows to many to dress unprofessionally.|
|I'd actually be happy if we went back to suits and ties. I cringe at what I see some people wearing.|
|The dress code needs to be monitored ALL YEAR LONG--not just during the summer. There is always an errant female who feels compelled to wear a tube top under an open blouse, or a top that has spaghetti straps on one side, or denim jeans with her name emblazoned on the butt in sequins. Then there was the woman in the hot pink velour jumpsuit that was 2 sizes to small--someone her size shouldn't be wearing a jumpsuit to begin with. Surprisingly, it's not always the recent college grads our company tends to hire, but rather the temps we bring in for annual enrollment. Some are a bit long in the tooth to be dressing like they are going clubbing after work and then they expect to be hired as a permanent employee. Not gonna happen.|
|We used to have a "casual" Friday policy where jeans were acceptable. The week before I started employment in March '07 the policy was rescinded. From what I hear, our VP had gotten offended at some of the outfits people were wearing and just ended casual dress.|
|The dress code is now casual all of the time and even the president wears jeans. Some employees wear flip flops which does not portray a professional environment. I personally feel that we should at least be business casual but that is a hard definition to make.|
|Flip flops! Flip flops! Flip flops! #@$%&!!!!!!!!!|
|Our office has everything from spandex (three sizes too small) to beach wear to formal suit & tie. Supposedly we are business casual, but you wouldn't know that by the number of men & women who look like they should be out at night working a street corner. Don't even get me started on the piercings.............|
|The most annoying thing I recognize is the clip-clopping of sandals. However, I'm fairly oblivious to what people wear.|
|People here tend to think anything from shorts to jeans is business casual. A few just want there to be some kind of dress code for everyone that should be worn in a business setting.|
|It seems that every year the unofficial dress code becomes more relaxed even though the official dress code has not changed.|
|We are pretty casual, jeans and polos with nice shoes/hiking boots acceptable daily, with tennis shoes/crocs ok on Friday's only. I'm a male, so I'm not as upset about the company wide ban on mini-skirts as some of my female counterparts.....or wait...maybe I should be??? :0)|
|For the most part it is working even if somepeople are unhappy about it's strictness. Of course there are always those employees who want to argue that their "fashionable attire" complies with the dress code. For some reason they seem to think their opinion on the matter is more valid that the VP of HR.|
|Being in our Compliance Department, we are a pretty conservative bunch with a lot of tenure. All of us dress appropriately. Some of the other departments on the other hand (you know, the entry level positions where you have the kids directly out of college); it is generally a fashion show like when you go out on a Friday night to some of the local bars. Makes for an interesting day sometimes.|
|In a previous job I always said "We don't need a dress code. They are grown-ups, they know what to wear." One day during a spell of days in the high 90's, our Plant Manager came to get me. He said "Lorraine is standing out there in her bra. Do you want to go deal with it?" On this job I wrote a dress code.|
|I think we need a dress code.|
|I would rather go to a business casual environment and be educated on it than to go with our business attire. I am beginning to hate ties!|
|On occaision, I have had to speak with employees individually in a discreet manner.|
|We included a class on appropriate attire for new hires a couple of years ago. Offenses have gone down considerably since teaching "common" sense.|
|Why is it that most men understand how to dress appropriately, but the women, even the more "mature" ones, don't understand the concept? And the worst offenders are the ones who should cover up to avoid a severe case of visual pollution and emotional scarring of small children!|
|It appears some of the current fashion trends look great on the 6' 130lbs models but not so great on my 5'2" 190lbs co-workers. It will be refreshing when the stretch fabric trend will not be tested so much daily. It appears that the old spare tire or now the muffin top is quite acceptable and almost a fashion statement.|
|"Casual Friday" or not, faded blue jeans do not work in a professional corporate environment.|
|Flip flops are never acceptable to wear in an office environment!|
|To think sharp, you ave to dress sharp. The office is not the beach. Dress for success.|
|With my own staff I simply tell them to dress well for our office. Jeans are allowed so the dress is often very casual. As long as they come in clean I don't set our standards above the rest of the organization.|
|ohhh man...i was just about to go eat...sheesh did you realize that not only your boxers are showing? the circus is playing down the street... and my favorite holds back laughter...um....did you really mean to do that?|
|Please for the love of God allow sandals/summer shoes w/o socks or hose. Feet sweat in the summertime & in an office environment there aren't many OSHA dangers to not wearing socks!|
|It doesn't make sense that we can wear jeans but not tennis shoes.|
|In looking around my workplace, which consists of both front-line and back-office folks, I have decided that "summer business casual" is open to interpretation!|
|Keep it neat, clean and professional. No front or rear cleavage... please. No open toe shoes, ever. No jeans or t-shirts on casual day. Casual/comfortable does not mean beach or clean out your garage attire.|
|No matter what, any rules are worthless if unenforced. If the work force needed a reminder so be it; however, depending on the extent of the non-adherence I would also ensure employees are aware of the consequences (going home to change-maybe with the added deterrent of being charged with unpaid time off, etc.). At my last job there was a woman who pushed the decorum envelope when she broke up with her boyfriend, who also worked there. She was much older than her former paramour but still in pretty good shape. You get the picture - low cut form fitting outfits, short skirts - and it was winter! Her immediate supervisor (a male) appeared to be oblivious, and several women co-workers complained to HR. Long story short - summertime heat is not the only cause of dress code issues!|
|Summertime's great in Buffalo - the women don't need to wear six layers of clothing...|
|Just because we CAN wear dresses above the knee, doesn't mean you should. I'll cover mine if you cover yours!|
|The hoe-down hasn't yet begun.....|
|Flip flops are never acceptable - even on casual Fridays, and neither are velour sweatsuits. Why do the people who wear sweatsuits always buy it several sizes too small?!|
|If you are over age 30, please do not wear really short skirts - it does not look good no matter what kind of shape you are in....|
|"Dress" sandals are allowed for women, but only if they have a strap on the back around the ankle. Huh??? That doesn't necessarily remove the "flip-flop" sound or mean that they are more professional looking.|
|Do you own a mirror?|
|Guys are expected to wear collared shirts, slacks, and dress shoes. Gals can wear sleeveless blouses, something called "city shorts", and flip flop sandals. And then have the audacity to complain they are cold with the air conditioner running. Don't print this but you did hit upon a sore spot.|
|Does your mother know that you dress in that manner?|
|Get a pedicure!|
|Sometimes I wonder if people even look in the mirror before they leave their homes? I've seen homeless people that dress better than some of our employees!|
|t-shirts, shorts/sweats with sneakers or flip-flops Enjoy your day Nevin.|
|Busts, bellys, bottoms - should be covered!|
|Not related ---my favorite story from a client was an HR person at a major hospital who told me that one of her employees, a man, came to her and said the next day "he" had decided to become a woman and would be dressing as a woman---- she had to review the policies for him(her) that would apply in such a situation !|
|Being a 40 year old male in the banking industry, I am amazed at what some of my female coworkers wear to work some days. My conclusion is that these ladies must be dressing in the dark or don't have a mirror at home. In every office, there are a few that push the envelope. As a male manager, it is very uncomfortable talking to someone about their attire or lack thereof. If we say that they are showing too much skin, we risk them thinking that we are dirty old men or worse yet, claiming harassment. As the rules are, the dress code is more relaxed for females anyway. Males are required to wear suits every day, even during the summer in the deep south when temps are nearing 100 degrees daily. Most of my female co-workers have slowly migrated to a more casual look over the summer. Less suits, more short sleeved collarless and v-neck shirts. We are rarely offered a "casual" day anymore since some ladies think that casual means beach attire. Casual for the men still means slacks and a long sleeved dress collared shirt. Oh well, at least we still get paid more! hahaha|
|I do object to flip-flops and shorts, and so do most of our Managers. At one point we had a Manager that wore flip-flops and shorts to the office. He felt that because he never met with clients in the office that it wasn't necessary to "dress." He did, however, keep a suit in the office, complete with white shirt, tie, dress shoes and socks, for those impromptu jaunts to a client's office.|
|Assuming we aren't client-facing on a particular day, the "green" thing would be to let us wear shorts, polos and sandals. We could then dial back on the A/C.|
|Same as above. I don't like confronting co-workers, but I have a particular individual at work who reports to me and I'm trying to come up with a tactful way of telling her what is and what is not appropriate.|
|Stretch pants are acceptable workplace attire at a gym|
|Certain body types should just stay covered, no matter what the season. If I wanted to see someone's (insert inappropriate exposed body part here), I would hang out with them at the beach.|
|Pants and tops should meet in the middle for both women and men. Bare bellies (or lower) are not acceptable. Young women's layered attire frequently looks slovenly -- appropriate for washing the car but not for the office.|
|Skin should never be considered an accessory to your outfit. If you actually thought, "I wonder if I could get away with wearing this?," then you should not have worn it to the office. Gentlemen: please, please, please wear an undershirt in this super air conditioned office. I don't care how thick that polo shirt is on its own - we are all painfully aware that you are cold.|
|Even "casual" clothes should be ironed (if appropriate). Casual is not the same as wrinkled.|
|Our office is no where near the beach - flip flops and tank tops are not appropriate wear for work.|
|If upper management has a problem, they need to recognize that it's hot in the summertime, and less clothing = lower energy bills for everyone, so lighten up!|
|(Frankly the issue is not a summertime dress code - it is a problem year round.) 1. Showing off your chest may be fashionable but it is not appropriate in the workplace. And while it might get you a perk or two with certain unprofessional bosses, it really is not a good long-term career move. 2. That outfit you are wearing may be in style but it is not for you - do you ever look in a full length mirror? From different angles? 3. COMMON SENSE PLEASE. 4. Did you forget this is a workday and not your Saturday trip to Wal-mart?|
|Give us a break!|
|Same as #4.|
|I am the person who has to say something but I hate being the fashion police. If I see capri pants and flip flops in November then I'll send out a memo. Until then hot weather equals bare legs, get used to it!!!|
|Who can dress for the warm outdoors when indoors it's freezing?|
|If your cleavage is showing, do not wear the top.|
|Recently I was an offender on a casual dress day for work, khakis were okay for this day but jeans were not. Normally jeans are okay for everyday work IF no one from the outside comes in for a visit. My supervisor issuing me a "Ticket" via email saying that tennis shoes are not appropriate but I should have worn flip-flops if I was to be comfortable. Funny, I think of flip-flops is a beach, lake type foot attire not for work whatsoever. So needless to say my supervisor and I do not agree on how to dress.|
|I love it! Our employees are very aware of the privilage they have with our causal policy and have been responsible in choosing their attire.|
|Cover up, you're still at work.|
|While sandals may be appropriate summer wear, flip flops are not.|
|"Skimpy" attire is for personal time away from the workplace.|
|Dress like you were going to meet your next customer face-to-face and they were writing your next pay check.|
|How come some people can not figure out that flip flops just do not count as business casual?|
|Capri pants, while technically within our dress code, are bad fashion choices for most women who wear them. Not to be outdone, many men I see could stand to update their pants to something that doesn't show the wear lines from their wallets.|
|I have discovered that coworkers have some tatoos I would rather not know about.|
|Someone needs to monitor the dress code ALL OF THE TIME and not just the individual's manager. My former manager would say, "His/her manager will address the issue." Huh?? Most of these managers look the other way!!|
|The line between "sandals" and "flip flops" in my office is a fine, gray line. (Supposedly, sandals are ok, flip flops aren't). Some people in the office spend a significant amount of time and energy commenting on others' footwear. Doesn't that indicate they might not have enough real work to do?|
|We should at least dress as professional or better when dealing with clients. There should be definitions of what constitues acceptable dress and what does not when it can be easily defined. All employees (even those who do not meet with clients) should think about their dress to make a good impression on clients since they provide our company with work.|
|Ladies, if you have to spend all day pulling it up so you don't fall out, or pulling it down because its skin tight/ too short, you CAN NOT wear it to work. Gentlemen, we don't care how pretty your boxers are, we don't want to look at them.|
|Stockings are the female equivalent of ties. If the guys don't have to wear ties the women shouldn't have to wear stockings!|
|If you have six toes on one foot - maybe you shouldn't wear sandals....that's all I'm saying.|
|Please, remember, we are business professionals and should dress accordingly (not in shorts, jeans, see through tops. Oh, by the way, undergarments is not appropriate office wear if others can see them.|
|If you would like to wear shorts and flip-flops to work, get a job at the beach. You work in an office with air-conditioning. Dress appropriately. 🙂|
|As above: Don't expose anything you would want your mother to see.|
|I would much rather ask that we be allowed to have small desk fans, which are also prohibited without a Doctor's note!!|
|Showing more skin is not particularly attractive on many people. Did you really look in the mirror before you left?|
|Sadly, I never learn.........."They are grown-ups, they know what to wear." (I read too many Pollyanna books as a child.)|
|No flip flops! 🙂|
|Either let the guys get rid of the tie or make the ladies wear a suit or something similar!|
|You don't have a mirror, right?|
|It always amazes me that individual that wears the least is the most vocal about the office being too chilly. Perhaps dressing a little more would reduce the thermostat challenages. Between hot flashes and skimpy dress, the rest of us don't know how to dress!|
|If you would wear it to the beach, you shouldn't be wearing it to the office.|