How to follow corporate dress code when it makes no sense

I’ve started a new job and as part of my orientation, I had to review the corporate dress code. It’s pretty standard compared to others I’ve been subjected to in the work place. But since I’m nearing the end of my career, I seem to have less patience for the ‘rules.’ Especially rules that make no sense.

Business woman

  1. No open toed shoes.
 In Maine we have a small window of time, during which we can wear sandals. Would big business stop spinning on its assets if we declared August ‘toe freedom month?’ This would allow our little piggies, confined to LL Bean boots for 11 months of the year, to get some fresh air and display their annual pedicure.
  2. Open backed shoes allowed. This is the arch of discrimination. Why is it wrong to expose toes but acceptable to bare the Achilles? Besides, my heels aren’t half as cute as my toes, and they look ridiculous with polish.
  3. No sleeveless dresses/blouses.
 Even Leviticus, the ultimate rule book, didn’t rail against arms, as long as they weren’t shoved into clothing of mixed fibers. I see similarities between upper arms and loose skin on necks, and there isn’t a ban on open necked blouses or shirts. Why is it acceptable to look at neck wattles, while enslaving arms in sleeves?
  4. Short-sleeved shirts/blouses allowed. Do we look more business-like when we squish arm flab into a short sleeve, making it resemble a triceps muffin top?
  5. No T-Shirts.
 I can see why they should prohibit offensive t-shirts because I don’t want to read “How to catch an illegal immigrant’ emblazoned on a coworker’s chest. I do think it would be fun to wear t-shirts that advertise our interests outside of work, however, and could lead to team building. What if I want to connect with people who play pickle ball? How will I know who they are if they can’t wear their t-shirts?
  6. Polo shirts and golf shirts allowed.
 Can you envision men, AKA old boys, sitting at a long table drafting the first guidelines, when some observant guy interjects, ‘What about days we play golf? Do we need to pack a bag, or can we make allowances for golf/polo shirts?” And that, my friends, is how t-shirts impersonating business attire slithered into the dress code.
  7. No shorts, skorts allowed. What exactly are we hiding when we wrap shorts with a handkerchief? Panty lines?
  8. Casual Friday.
 This makes as much sense as giving Miss America free plastic surgery instead of a scholarship. Let’s face it. Friday has a lot going for it already, and we are mentally wearing jeans, even if we don a ball gown on the last day of the workweek. The workday that needs help is Monday. Would the person at Department of Motor Vehicles be a little gentler and forgiving on Monday morning, if beneath the counter he or she was wearing a pair of relaxed fit Levis?

You may wonder how I’m going to make it through the last few years of my employment without getting into trouble. The thing that motivates me to cover my arms, leave my t-shirts, shorts and jeans crumpled in the bottom drawer, and smother my toes in sensible shoes, is one crucial omission.

There is no rule that forces me to wear a bra.

What motivates you to follow your company’s dress code?

Photo credit: depositphotos_Copyright:phase4studio

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19 thoughts on “How to follow corporate dress code when it makes no sense”

    1. Yes Kathy that is a compelling reason to comply. The day I give my notice I’m retiring I’m going to wear shorts, sandals and my Big Bang Theory Bazinga t-shirt. And that won’t be easy since I’m shooting for the month of January in some future year. Hopefully this decade.

    1. I did get busted one day by my boss when I wore sandals, so I’ve decided to comply. Another convincing factor was the overactive air conditioner that has me back in my Bean boots and wool socks. Brrrrrrr.

  1. What a fun piece, Molly! I’m in the process of reviewing a workshop o help employees interpret their organization’s dress codes … Love your spin!

    1. Thanks Becky. I hope this piece helps you take the dress code out of the closet and march it off to the dry cleaners in an effort to clean it up for employees.

    1. No, Mary, I think it is okay to wear ball gowns. I suppose they’ll have to add a rule about it when there are enough complaints about sequence jamming keyboards.

  2. When I worked at the paper, they had no casual days. They wanted me in professional attire even when my assignment was to ride with the Department of Public Works trucks to evaluate and fix potholes. Hard to do that in heels and stockings. LOL Another no sense corporate policy for sure!

    1. Man, that really bites, Donna. At least I don’t have to wear heels in my current position. I’ve even found some classy looking sneakers that are comfy and cute that I get away with. I’m glad you don’t have to dress like that now!

    2. Couldn’t you, like, sneak into casual dress and comfortable shoes when you were not in the office, or did they have ways of finding out when you skirted the rules like that?

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