When I worked in human resources, I hated dress codes. Our dress code was business casual with jeans on Fridays. It was very comfy and easy to dress. No ties, pantyhose, suits or dresses – most employees wore khakis or casual pants with nice tops. Managers would try to make me responsible to enforce the code. They would send their unruly employees to my office to get set straight on what they should wear to work.
I resisted that role. I was not a fashion cop. I didn’t see what all of our employees wore each day and I didn’t want to.
Some employees will push the envelope as far as they can for anything. How do you tell an employee her boobs are hanging out? She knows it, she likes it that way. We had trouble with downright sloppy clothes too.
You know the sneakers you wear to seal your driveway? Why throw them out when you can eke out a few wearings to work? What about that teensy tear in a tee-shirt? Tee-shirts weren’t allowed but no one would notice. Wrong!
Over the years, I collected some responses from employees who were slightly (ever so slightly) out of the dress code.
- “I am just too tall to be subject to the code.” This was from a tall manager who wore some of the sexiest clothes I have ever seen outside of a TV sitcom. Somehow the tallness should allow her breasts and thighs to be exposed.
- “This outfit cost $110.” It’s not the cost that matters, it’s how professional it is. This particular outfit was an expensive exercise outfit. It was just lovely especially if you were going to the gym to pick up men — sweaty, smelly men.
- “I can’t afford business clothes.” Last time I looked, Wal-Mart had a business section where the pants were about the same price as the junk she had on.
- For a long time we didn’t allow sneakers at work. Our CEO hated those big, dirty, chunky sneakers that younger employees liked to wear. We did allow pregnant women, who had ankles the size of tree trunks to wear sneakers with a note from their doctor (as if we were blind!). Some physical jobs also allowed sneakers and there were a few other reasons. There were many days when I would get emails and phone messages reporting that so-and-so had sneakers on. Really? Should I make them stand in the corner? Maybe a time out?
- Flip-flops? This topic was more volatile than abortion! I can’t even talk about it except to say that one employee in flip-flops slipped and was on sick leave for a month. Enough said!
- We didn’t have many men in our work place. The demographics were overwhelmingly female and most men were in upper level jobs. Occasionally we did have the case of the dropped drawers. Those were the guys with the plumber cracks. Don’t guys know that their cracks are not really that attractive? Eyeow!
Picture credits: Woman in slip — Marianna T-girl, shoes on desk — slworking2 and butt crack — LiewLeanKut, all from Flickr