Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:49 AM
MrLee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 212

Ramblings on male and female dress codes at work


At my workplace, which has a fairly formal and conservative culture, the gentlemen's unwritten but very-much-collectively-understood dress code is as follows:

- All must wear shoes, trousers (pants), an ironed shirt and a neck-tie.
- A jumper (pullover) over the shirt and tie is technically an option, but is a maverick, irreverent and subversive move.
- Likewise, flamboyantly-patterned shirts and ties are technically admissible, but would not be seen worn by anybody with aspirations to management.
- A matching 2-piece suit is de rigueur, although senior managers may get away with a jacket that does not match the trousers (pants)
- A waistcoat (vest) may be worn instead of or as well as a suit jacket, although this is usually only for more senior gentlemen
- Additional approved flourishes are tie clips, lapel pins and double-cuffs with cuff-links
- A handkerchief in the breast pocket is considered unacceptably gauche for all but the most senior management
- Suit colours generally should match the season - a very light suit in December would be considered odd, while a light blue suit in the summer would be considered tasteful.
- Shoes should be black - possibly brown if the season and accompanying fabric colours allow it

The dress code for ladies is...

- anything that at least covers the chest down to the knees - with nothing showing between. And something on the feet.

In reality, some women - especially those higher in the hierarchy - pretty much wear the female equivalent of what the men wear (suits, shirts, 'smart' blouses, black shoes, etc..). Plenty don't, though - sleeve-less tops, dresses with floral prints, jeans and sneakers all protagonise. If I came into work wearing jeans and a Hawaiian shirt people would be gravely concerned about me , and if I walked in with my bare shoulders showing I would (I expect) be politely escorted off the premises.

I have spent the last few years pondering this. My workplace is perhaps an extreme example - but I've seen this elsewhere: in workplace situations where men are expected to don shirts and ties, women seem to get away with a more acceptable range of variety and less apparent formality (at least, in the lower ranks).

A knee-jerk reaction to this situation may be a kind of indignant Men's Rights Activist-style "It's sexism! Misandry! Double standards! One rule for them and another for us!". Poor old men, goes the idea, being held to unfair higher standards than the slothful and slovenly lady-folk. Perhaps. But in virtually every other walk of life women - rightly or wrongly - spend more time caring (and being judged) about their appearance than men do. Why would the workplace be a sudden reversal of that?

Ladies, of course, aren't expected to wear identical clothes to men in the workplace. Partly this is biological; button-down shirts don't work for all female body shapes. It's also cultural - a woman wearing a man's getup (as described above) would be seen to be making a fairly bold statement. But the female equivalent of the man's shoes+shirt+tie+suit certainly exists (usually with peculiar diminutive amendments to sleeve length, collar width, etc.) - it just seems that a) there is less of an expectation that ladies should don it, even when there is one for the guys, and b) they frequently opt not to, instead going for something more comfortable and casual. And who can blame them, you might say...

(Then, there are the exceptions - cases where subordinate women in client-facing roles have been ordered to wear high-heels and skirts when they would rather not - is this a similar kind of sexism that obliges men to wear ties but not women? Or something more sinister? Dunno...)

The thing is - rightly or wrongly - the way we present ourselves at work matters. Most or all of us make assumptions and generate impressions of people based on how they are dressed; put simply, in a formal environment a person (male or female) in a suit carries more professional weight, respectability and gravitas than one in jeans and a sleeve-less top. Consequently, my female colleagues collectively put themselves at a disadvantage by not suiting-up. Are they not aware of this? Or do they know it but don't care? Or, am I even reading this right? Is there something I'm missing?

Okay, ramble over - your thoughts welcome
  #2  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:19 AM
Crafter_Man's Avatar
Crafter_Man is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 11,652
It's the same where I work. Women can (and do) wear pretty much anything, and no one says a peep. Men are expected to dress conservatively, and someone will say something to them if they don't.

Why the discrepancy? This is the only reason I can think of: if management put in place strict rules on how women should dress, the women will become very vocal about it and claim they're being victimized, discriminated, etc. By contrast, men won't complain.

Last edited by Crafter_Man; 02-27-2020 at 04:20 AM.
  #3  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:36 AM
Crafter_Man's Avatar
Crafter_Man is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 11,652
Got to thinking more about this, in how men and women are treated in the workplace.

I have men and women working for me. If one of my male employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I'll say something to him. If one of my female employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I won't say anything. Reason being... I am fearful the female employee will go to HR and claim I am harassing her. Even though I'm not harassing her, my life will be over, and HR will take her side and I'll either be demoted or fired. (I have witnessed this firsthand at my workplace.) It's just not worth it. Yea, it's not fair, but I'm powerless to change the system.
  #4  
Old 02-27-2020, 05:31 AM
icon is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 125
This difference in what is acceptable as being business casual is something that I have thought about as well and I wonder if it comes from the idea that women are still seen as being ornamental in the work place. For example, the expectation was (and maybe still is) that, at least in an office setting, the big boss would have a "pretty" secretary which reinforced his big boss status. Men, on the other hand, are expected to show that they are dependable and efficient, which is shown by the neatness and correctness of their appearance. Although this type of thinking has no doubt changed through the years, it probably is still reflected today, at least in places that do not have a uniform policy for dress standards.

//i\\
  #5  
Old 02-27-2020, 05:48 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,296
I think it's both simpler and more innocuous than that. Men have been in the workplace, and in particular in management positions, forever, and so there are centuries of tradition built up on how men should dress. Women, however, have only been in the workplace for a fairly short time, and even then mostly low in the hierarchy, so there hasn't been time for women's workplace fashions to ossify in the same way. So when women did enter the workforce, and a female dress code was created, it was created to be sensible, which wasn't an option for the tradition-bound men who already had a dress code.
  #6  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:01 AM
Manda JO is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 11,903
There may be subtleties to the women's dress code you are missing because you don't know much about women's clothing.
  #7  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:48 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Rural Western PA
Posts: 34,198
At work my jeans never have major holes or tears, and I avoid tshirts with overly profane messages. My employees have a dress code, but it's one they've adopted amongst themselves.
  #8  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:58 AM
kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 20,146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I think it's both simpler and more innocuous than that. Men have been in the workplace, and in particular in management positions, forever, and so there are centuries of tradition built up on how men should dress. Women, however, have only been in the workplace for a fairly short time, and even then mostly low in the hierarchy, so there hasn't been time for women's workplace fashions to ossify in the same way. So when women did enter the workforce, and a female dress code was created, it was created to be sensible, which wasn't an option for the tradition-bound men who already had a dress code.
Women have been in the 'workforce' at least as far back as the oldest profession, which lead itself to a fairly common dress style for women engaged in such a profession. They were also looked down upon in society. So a divide in work clothes and a divide in status and position is long standing.
  #9  
Old 02-27-2020, 07:50 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 3,479
At my work we have a "business casual" code. Which means decent pants and dress shirt for men. Women wear yoga pants and large t-shirts, flip flops, all sorts of nonsense. It's perfectly fine.
  #10  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:08 AM
MrLee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
There may be subtleties to the women's dress code you are missing because you don't know much about women's clothing.
No doubt. I don't really know what it 'means' if one female colleague is wearing sandals while another is in Doc Martens - but they're both a similar degree of formality away from my black work shoes.
  #11  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:09 AM
enipla is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Colorado Rockies.
Posts: 15,105
Where I work, pretty much anything goes. Mostly it's jeans, boots of some sort and fleece tops and sweaters. We live in snow country. Shorts in summer are fine, but you'll likely be cold. The town with our county seat in it got over 300 inches of snow so far. And march is typically our snowiest month. We can expect another 3 feet at least. With a few more feet in April. Trying to 'dress up' in these conditions would be insane.

We are county government. GIS department (computer mapping/spatial analysis) , but it's the same for everyone.
__________________
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
  #12  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:18 AM
SanVito is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Bristol, UK
Posts: 4,995
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
Women have been in the 'workforce' at least as far back as the oldest profession, which lead itself to a fairly common dress style for women engaged in such a profession. They were also looked down upon in society. So a divide in work clothes and a divide in status and position is long standing.
In offices in parity with men? Hardly. And dragging a workplace discussion down to women prostitutes isn't very helpful. particularly as you seem to equate prostitution with how women now dress at work. Please. It's offensive.

To the OP, I think Chronos has it, in large part. Women haven't got a long-standing accepted-by-all 'officer uniform'. Dressing in what is basically mens suits but with a skirt or heals is also not something many women want or are expected to do.

There are different standards at play. It's not that men = smart and women = slovenly. Let's face it, women make far more effort than men in virtually any place or occasion. It's that what is regarded as smart for women isn't necessarily a power suit and a tie. And I suspect the OP is missing the clues.

Last edited by SanVito; 02-27-2020 at 08:19 AM.
  #13  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:29 AM
Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 59,680
The store I cashier at is owned by Orthodox Jews. The only thing I was ever told is my clothes must be clean and appropriate, and I have to wear the store's red shirt at all times I'm in the store, and not wear it outside of the store. I got the clean part, and apparently appropriate means not too tight or too revealing.

The cashiers wear red so if someone not wearing a red shirt is behind a register, the staff notices. The aisle workers wear navy blue so they are not noticeable, especially to shop lifters.
  #14  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:31 AM
MrLee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
what is regarded as smart for women isn't necessarily a power suit and a tie. And I suspect the OP is missing the clues.
When I see a female colleague in a (ladies') suit, I think she looks smarter and more professional than one who is in jeans and a top with no sleeves. Am I the only one? When taken in aggregate, and only in my limited experience, it seems to me that women in formal white-collar environments dress less professionally than men do. And, this isn't because they don't have the option of dressing formally - such outfits exist - it seems that they consciously choose to dress-down. I cannot think of a ladies' outfit which is more 'smart' and 'professional' than some kind of feminine suit jacket+skirt or +pants combo. (But then, I don't know much about women's clothes).

Perhaps I am missing something, though - as all this stuff is inherently subjective. Perhaps most people don't see it the way I do - hence the OP. Crucially, I am seeing this through a man's eyes - it may well be that women in such workplaces look at and appraise each other's dress in terms of formality and smartness using a very different set of criteria. If so, what are they?
  #15  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:34 AM
filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,897
I think the expectation in society is that men wear somewhat unremarkable and forgettable clothes. It would be odd for a man to wear unique attire in an environment where that is not the norm. The way men dress is generally pretty consistent even outside work. Think about any big award show. Men are typically in similar suits, while women are in wildly extravagant and unique outfits. It's not even noticed if a few men are wearing the same suit, but women dread showing up in the same dress as someone else.

I would tend to think this is because of the underlying differences between how men and women want to dress. I would guess that a lot of men are perfectly fine wearing essentially the same polo shirt, jeans, and shoes every day of their life. But I would tend to think that women prefer to wear things that are more unique, vibrant, and expressive of their current mood.

So I wouldn't attribute this to being unique to the workplace. In almost all facets of society, men dress pretty consistently with each other. The workplace may put some additional boundaries on that since their profit may depend on the appearance of their employees. If target market expects men to look a certain way, the business may encourage their men to fit that expectation in the hopes it will create more revenue.
  #16  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:42 AM
Kovitlac is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 566
My job is very lax with dress code. They don't want people looking like total slobs, but while they do have a written dress code (due to, so I've heard, one mishap), it's mostly along the lines of, "wear clean clothes and shoes, don't be shirtless, etc." Personal preferences vary. The President of the small company generally wears slacks and a nice shirt, sometimes a vest. Dress shoes. I'm at the opposite end, wearing skinny jeans and sweaters (I loathe blouses). Heck, on Fridays I'll wear sometimes wear a tank top that says FRIDAY, FRIDAY, FRIDAY on it (with a cardigan). But it doesn't come down to differences in men and women - my female manager dresses a bit more formally while a male manager wears jeans like I do. Most of us don't work directly with customers , and when some do, they're out on IT assignments, and aren't expected to be wearing suits anyway.

Plenty of employees here work remotely, so they may well be in their jammies

More to the subject of the post, I do think it's unfair if different standards are expected of male and female employees. I think it's worth bringing up to HR if it's something that bothers you. Personally, I'd HATE having to wear a tie every day if I were a guy, or ever at all, so I wouldn't fault you in the slightest bit. Similarly, I know there are places that demand women wear dresses while guys wear pants, and I'd hate that as well.
  #17  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:56 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 12,089
ISTM that there are two somewhat separate issues. 1) is that women's dress codes have more variation. 2) is that women's dress codes tend to allow for more skin exposure than men's.

I think both of these are reflections of conventional standards in society at large and manifest themselves to the same extent in non-business dress situations. So it may be a mistake to look for a business dress-specific reason for them.
  #18  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:02 AM
MrLee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by filmore View Post
I would tend to think this is because of the underlying differences between how men and women want to dress. I would guess that a lot of men are perfectly fine wearing essentially the same polo shirt, jeans, and shoes every day of their life. But I would tend to think that women prefer to wear things that are more unique, vibrant, and expressive of their current mood..
I suspect you've hit on something there. Perhaps so many women object to the feminine-version-of-a-man's-suit because it is essentially boring, and goes against everything that women are brought up to think about dress and appearance (i.e. that it is all about individuality and self-expression).

This isn't to say that men don't have avenues for creativity in how they dress at work, too. I have a wide variety of cuff-links and tie clips which I like to playfully mix up now and then
  #19  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:13 AM
kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 20,146
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
In offices in parity with men? Hardly. And dragging a workplace discussion down to women prostitutes isn't very helpful. particularly as you seem to equate prostitution with how women now dress at work. Please. It's offensive.....
If you can get past being offended perhaps there is maybe some truth to this. Women over the recent years, and recent decades have been complaining about being seen as sex objects, being lower class, having to wear things like high heals with certain jobs a frequent saying is she got ahead by sleeping with the boss and using their body for advancement. Not to mention the whole '#MeToo movement'

Being offended helps one dismiss what they don't want to consider or challenge. Is that reason enough not to offend?
  #20  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:24 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,380
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLee View Post
At my workplace, which has a fairly formal and conservative culture, the gentlemen's unwritten but very-much-collectively-understood dress code is as follows:

- All must wear shoes, trousers (pants), an ironed shirt and a neck-tie.
- A jumper (pullover) over the shirt and tie is technically an option, but is a maverick, irreverent and subversive move.
- Likewise, flamboyantly-patterned shirts and ties are technically admissible, but would not be seen worn by anybody with aspirations to management.
- A matching 2-piece suit is de rigueur, although senior managers may get away with a jacket that does not match the trousers (pants)
- A waistcoat (vest) may be worn instead of or as well as a suit jacket, although this is usually only for more senior gentlemen
- Additional approved flourishes are tie clips, lapel pins and double-cuffs with cuff-links
- A handkerchief in the breast pocket is considered unacceptably gauche for all but the most senior management
- Suit colours generally should match the season - a very light suit in December would be considered odd, while a light blue suit in the summer would be considered tasteful.
- Shoes should be black - possibly brown if the season and accompanying fabric colours allow it
So where did you get your time-portal to 1960? Seriously- that's an absurdly restrictive dress code for the second decade of the 21st century. Most places, even those that require suits, don't much care if you wear a vest, sweater, pocket square, or exactly what color your shoes are.

At most, what I've seen is something of a formality break between staff and management, where the staff may be all wearing jeans, polos and various sorts of non-sneaker casual shoes, and by unspoken agreement, the management types will be wearing chinos, polished shoes and a dress shirt, with any polo shirts having the company/department logo prominently displayed. And as everywhere, management aspirants will be dressing up like their supervisors in some sort of low-key brown nosing attempt, while simultaneously incurring the disdain of their staff peers.

I haven't really noticed *too* much difference between what women wear and what men wear, with the exception of shoes and hot weather clothing. By that I mean that if it's 25 degrees outside or 105 degrees outside, we're all wearing pants, polo shirts, casual shoes (or the management outfit). But some women may wear more seasonal clothing- shorter skirts, open toed shoes, looser/more open blouses, etc... without any fear of official repercussion.

Of course, there's a LOT more catty nonsense that goes on among the women about what they wear- while most of the men manage to not quite look homeless some days in terms of combing their hair and shaving, the women are all invariably made up, with hair that's done, etc... and they wear "outfits", as opposed to just trying to not wear weird color combinations like most men.

I don't think it's due to any sort of inherent female flamboyance or inherent male dullness, but rather that we've all been conditioned to think we should dress a certain way, and reinforce it among ourselves. I mean, if a guy were to show up with elaborately coiffed hair and a just-so outfit, we'd probably tease him about having a date or something like that, because that's unusual for a regular work day. I've actually heard that this sort of thing is quite the burden for gay men, who might want to be as slouchy as us straight men, but feel like they have to live up to some sort of style/grooming standard.
  #21  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:32 AM
Hermitian's Avatar
Hermitian is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,762
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
It's the same where I work. Women can (and do) wear pretty much anything, and no one says a peep. Men are expected to dress conservatively, and someone will say something to them if they don't.

Why the discrepancy? This is the only reason I can think of: if management put in place strict rules on how women should dress, the women will become very vocal about it and claim they're being victimized, discriminated, etc. By contrast, men won't complain.
I guess this is company by company. At my company, the women tend to police the women's dress code. I know of women coworkers who have approached each other about wearing too revealing or casual clothes.

The men would be scared stiff to talk to a woman about such a thing.
  #22  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:49 AM
Isosleepy's Avatar
Isosleepy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 2,130
The main problem with your workplace’s dresscode is the attitude towards pocket squares. Clearly overly restrictive and fussy.
  #23  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:57 AM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 28,609
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I think it's both simpler and more innocuous than that. Men have been in the workplace, and in particular in management positions, forever, and so there are centuries of tradition built up on how men should dress. Women, however, have only been in the workplace for a fairly short time, and even then mostly low in the hierarchy, so there hasn't been time for women's workplace fashions to ossify in the same way. So when women did enter the workforce, and a female dress code was created, it was created to be sensible, which wasn't an option for the tradition-bound men who already had a dress code.
This was my thought upon reading the OP.

The male dress code described in the OP is pretty traditional and conservative (even old-fashioned), and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it had been in place since before there were any women in that particular workplace.
  #24  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:07 AM
rbroome is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 3,603
One good story of how an office "dress code" got to be established in one DC area small business was when one of the VPs came back from lunch vowing to clean up his act a bit. It seems that he was offered a job as dishwasher/kitchen help at the counter where he stopped for lunch. He decided that his outfit needed updating and that goal apparently went out through the office. Either emulation or no one else wanted to be embarrassed at the local diner.
  #25  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:22 AM
digs's Avatar
digs is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: West of Wauwatosa
Posts: 10,696
MrLee, I hope you realize you're working at a very tradition-bound "firm" (and that word is appropriate). I worked at a very conservative company (and they were proud of being called "Old Guard" or even "Dinosaurs"). They were so afraid of change that they hired and promoted toadies who would dress "appropriately" no matter how uncomfortable (three-piece suits and ties in summer? Not fun).

The problem is, society was changing, and they refused to or to lighten up on anything (not even a dress code). Younger, more flexible companies made exciting presentations to our biggest clients (in their Hawaiian shirts and jeans), stole them away, and we went out of business.

But right to the end, everyone was afraid to look out of place. And your company policies do sound like they're based on fear. Fear of being noticed, fear of being passed over for promotions because you didn't wear the right shirt with the right suit. Management at my "firm" ruled by daily disapprovals like these, and kept everyone in a state of low-level fear.

I mentioned this to my boss once and he surprised me by admitting it, even being proud of it. "Well, you figured it out. Of course we want you afraid. If you spend Saturday worrying about what we think of you, you'll come in Sunday and get extra work done." (yes, we were salaried)


I bolded a few of your terms which sound like coercion, or at least management-by-fear:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLee View Post
- All must wear shoes, trousers (pants), an ironed shirt and a neck-tie.
- A jumper (pullover) over the shirt and tie is technically an option, but is a maverick, irreverent and subversive move.
- Likewise, flamboyantly-patterned shirts and ties are technically admissible, but would not be seen worn by anybody with aspirations to management.
- A matching 2-piece suit is de rigueur, although senior managers may get away with a jacket that does not match the trousers (pants)
- A waistcoat (vest) may be worn instead of or as well as a suit jacket, although this is usually only for more senior gentlemen
- Additional approved flourishes are tie clips, lapel pins and double-cuffs with cuff-links
- A handkerchief in the breast pocket is considered unacceptably gauche for all but the most senior management...

...subordinate women in client-facing roles have been ordered to wear high-heels and skirts when they would rather not - is this a similar kind of sexism that obliges men to wear ties but not women? Or something more sinister? Dunno...)

...Put simply, in a formal environment a person (male or female) in a suit carries more professional weight, respectability and gravitas than one in jeans and a sleeve-less top.
After "The Firm" went under, I ended up at a smaller, much more creative workplace where people didn't care about what you looked like, they cared about what you did, and whether you were happy and fulfilled. That's my hope for you, MrLee! If you want to "carry more professional weight and respectability", work somewhere where you can do great work that makes the world a better place... without worrying what others think of your shoes.
  #26  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:27 AM
Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 21,782
I feel lucky. I can work at any of three offices. The first, my attire can be from nothing (a bit chilly), to pajamas (not in my wardrobe), to whatever. That's because it is my home office and/or bedroom, and no one can see me as long as my laptop cam is taped over.

Second is a real estate office. No particular dress code, although something out of season would be noticed. If I feel that my clients (or potential clients) prefer a suit & tie, that's what I can wear. Otherwise, almost anything goes, including shorts in summer.

Third is a back room in a town office. No required code, and no major exposure to the public. I feel comfortable wearing anything that might be seen on a farm, a street, or the library -- a pretty large range.

Personally, I stay away from torn clothing, dirty clothing, or clothing that might suggest I just came from mucking out the barn. We all have our limits, right?
  #27  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:31 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 3,479
I just want to know when yoga pants and a long over-sized shirt became appropriate for an office.
  #28  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:50 AM
Procrustus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Pacific NW. ¥
Posts: 12,976
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
At work my jeans never have major holes or tears, and I avoid tshirts with overly profane messages. My employees have a dress code, but it's one they've adopted amongst themselves.
Same here. I can wear anything my wife would find acceptable for me to wear at Applebees. (although she objects to Applebees)
  #29  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:45 AM
silenus's Avatar
silenus is online now
Isaiah 10:1-3
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 52,192
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLee View Post
If I came into work wearing jeans and a Hawaiian shirt people would be gravely concerned about me ...
If I showed up to work in anything other than jeans and a Hawaiian shirt I think the Superintendent and the Principal would be in my classroom within the hour, inquiring as to my mental state and general attitude.
  #30  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:33 PM
Voyager's Avatar
Voyager is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 47,429
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
If you can get past being offended perhaps there is maybe some truth to this. Women over the recent years, and recent decades have been complaining about being seen as sex objects, being lower class, having to wear things like high heals with certain jobs a frequent saying is she got ahead by sleeping with the boss and using their body for advancement. Not to mention the whole '#MeToo movement'

Being offended helps one dismiss what they don't want to consider or challenge. Is that reason enough not to offend?
Take a look at movies with women in the workplace from the '50s say, and tell us about the evidence that their dress code came from prostitutes.
And in case you hadn't noticed, women get treated as sex objects by some men no matter what they wear. It happened long before the term was invented.
  #31  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:34 PM
zoid's Avatar
zoid is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago Il
Posts: 10,480
Meh, it's a trade off I'm willing to make for peeing standing up, making more, spending less on basically everything, and having much simpler hygiene requirements.
When all of those are addressed I'll start complaining that I have to wear the monkey suit.
  #32  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:42 PM
Voyager's Avatar
Voyager is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 47,429
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLee View Post
When I see a female colleague in a (ladies') suit, I think she looks smarter and more professional than one who is in jeans and a top with no sleeves. Am I the only one? When taken in aggregate, and only in my limited experience, it seems to me that women in formal white-collar environments dress less professionally than men do. And, this isn't because they don't have the option of dressing formally - such outfits exist - it seems that they consciously choose to dress-down. I cannot think of a ladies' outfit which is more 'smart' and 'professional' than some kind of feminine suit jacket+skirt or +pants combo. (But then, I don't know much about women's clothes).

Perhaps I am missing something, though - as all this stuff is inherently subjective. Perhaps most people don't see it the way I do - hence the OP. Crucially, I am seeing this through a man's eyes - it may well be that women in such workplaces look at and appraise each other's dress in terms of formality and smartness using a very different set of criteria. If so, what are they?
Are there any women in the executive ranks of your company?

I worked in Silicon Valley. We consider people professional based on the work they do, not what they wear. In fact when I joined the company one of the first things I got was a little news story about our billionaire founder who hated suits and ties, and only wore them when testifying before Congress or meeting world leaders.

Lawyers have to dress up. So do bankers, I guess to prove they can be trusted with money. But the people I worked with were plenty professional, men and women, even and perhaps because of the lack of a dress code.
  #33  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:02 PM
Procrustus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Pacific NW. ¥
Posts: 12,976
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post

Lawyers have to dress up. So do bankers, I guess to prove they can be trusted with money. But the people I worked with were plenty professional, men and women, even and perhaps because of the lack of a dress code.
Lawyers have to dress up in court. And, of course, many law firms have a dress code. They don't have to. My firm is my cite. (I'm currently sitting at my desk in jeans, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt).
  #34  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:17 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is online now
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 17,272
Thirty years ago, when I started in my career, "business attire" was the standard at the first two companies at which I worked.

For men, that code was tremendously simple to follow:
- Business suit (not a blazer and slacks)
- Dress shirt (always long sleeved)
- Tie
- Dress shoes

About the only place where any creativity at all was really allowed in this was in choice of tie; even a shirt of an unusual color (pretty much, anything other than white, light blue, or light yellow) would earn one a "please don't wear that shirt again" from management.

For women, it was a little less straightforward, but in the '80s and early '90s, it largely amounted to women's business suits, or (sometimes) dresses. Most women's business suits at that time had skirts, not pants, and (except maybe in the winter months) women were expected to wear skirts (and pantyhose).

Then, in the mid-to-late '90s, a lot of businesses in the U.S. (including where I was working at the time) went to "business casual." For men, again, that was pretty straightforward:
- Dress shirt, polo shirt, or the like (or a sweater)
- Khakis or other casual pants (not jeans)
- Casual shoes (not sneakers)

And, frankly, most of us guys had stuff like that in our closets already.

But, my recollection is that quite a few women with whom I worked (especially the younger ones) struggled with figuring out what, in their wardrobes, did or didn't qualify as "business casual," in part because they *didn't* have things like that already in their wardrobes.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 02-27-2020 at 01:21 PM.
  #35  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:15 PM
furryman's Avatar
furryman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Collinwood, Collinsport
Posts: 4,060
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Got to thinking more about this, in how men and women are treated in the workplace.

I have men and women working for me. If one of my male employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I'll say something to him. If one of my female employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I won't say anything. Reason being... I am fearful the female employee will go to HR and claim I am harassing her. Even though I'm not harassing her, my life will be over, and HR will take her side and I'll either be demoted or fired. (I have witnessed this firsthand at my workplace.) It's just not worth it. Yea, it's not fair, but I'm powerless to change the system.
This is amazing to me. At least two different women have been fired from where I work for constantly being late/ not showing up. But then again there's no HR for my company either.

Last edited by furryman; 02-27-2020 at 02:16 PM.
  #36  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:18 PM
kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 20,146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Take a look at movies with women in the workplace from the '50s say, and tell us about the evidence that their dress code came from prostitutes.
And in case you hadn't noticed, women get treated as sex objects by some men no matter what they wear. It happened long before the term was invented.
In the 50's, here is one:
Note: There is a annoying sidebar that pops up but just click on the main article 2times or so and it disappears.

In the 50's for this job they didn't just want you thin, female, attractive and blond but also single and 'unencumbered'.

Quote:
“Having married stewardesses would take some of the fun out of the job for the single girls — and the male passengers,”
https://clickamericana.com/topics/mo...of-the-50s-60s
  #37  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:39 PM
Dinsdale is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 19,347
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
ISTM that there are two somewhat separate issues. 1) is that women's dress codes have more variation. 2) is that women's dress codes tend to allow for more skin exposure than men's.
...
The second is what used to confuse me (when I used to care about such things as office dress. Now, I've pretty much given up on cow-orkers doing their jobs minimally competently, so what they wear doesn't even register!) I've worked in law offices all of my adult life. It used to strike me as curious that women could wear sleeveless tops/dresses and sandals w/o stockings, where it would be considered inappropriate for a man to wear shorts, sandals and a tank top.

Some people seem to have no clue as to the image they present in certain attire. One time we had our receptionist show up w/ a t-shirt advertising a strip club. (He was later marched from the office for kiddie porn on the office computer! ) And we had large women wearing very tight, short, and revealing clothes.

Quote:
Women over the recent years, and recent decades have been complaining about being seen as sex objects, ...
I used to wonder about women who demanded to be treated as professionals, yet they showed up in sheer blouses showing lacy underwear and considerable cleavage, short and slit skirts, ...

It really isn't rocket science - and isn't at all restrictive. Just wear something that isn't too tight or too revealing, is in reasonably good repair, and which doesn't contain inappropriate language. You have plenty of places outside of work to express your individuality in more outandish dress.
__________________
I used to be disgusted.
Now I try to be amused.
  #38  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:15 PM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 16,899
IMHO, it is mostly largely to two factors:

1. Women are likelier to complain "discrimination" than men, as pointed out abovethread;
2. Women's clothing is a lot harder to define than men's. Men's is just shirt, pants, shoes, and a tie. Women's has a much wider array and hence women can take advantage of that.
  #39  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:38 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 11,127
I worked at a place where almost everybody wore jeans or business casual. We got a new HR director and she said we could wear jeans on Fridays. We all got a good laugh out of that. the main change was that she started wearing jeans on Fridays. The rest of the week she almost never wore pants, she wore a dress or skirt.

I belong to 2 credit unions. At the bigger one people still dress up with jackets, ties, etc. The smaller one it's business casual.

Last edited by Bijou Drains; 02-27-2020 at 03:41 PM.
  #40  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:28 PM
krondys's Avatar
krondys is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Gillette, Wyoming
Posts: 1,248
I have worn essentially the same thing at work for the last 21 years... T-shirt and jeans.

Now that I'll be turning 40 this year, I've decided to up my game, and started wearing button-down shirts, nice trousers, a spiffy wool waistcoat and matching wool tie.

The reactions over the last couple of weeks have been hilarious.
  #41  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:43 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 6,168
I thank God I've always worked in IT or academia, where really nobody cares all that much.

On the other hand, if I honestly had to choose between suit, tie and clompy black leather shoes all year versus a pencil-skirt and (*shudder*) heels, I guess I'll be in the bloke uniform
__________________
Science created the modern world. Politics is doing its best to destroy it.
  #42  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:25 PM
carrps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,195
I worked for a rather conservative company. When I started in the late 70s, you could not eat in the company cafeteria unless you were wearing a tie (if you were a man). Women had to wear either dresses or suits (pants or skirt), but no pants with mismatched tops were allowed. Panty hose were required for bare legs. We went to business casual in the 90s on Fridays which soon became business casual all the time after a few years. This was all last century. By the time I retired, people wore pretty much what they wanted if they didn't have a public-facing position. I'm not much impressed by companies with very strict dress codes -- implies ossification in other areas.
  #43  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:33 PM
doreen is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 6,918
Part of the problem is that while a man's suit has an easy female equivalent ( a woman's suit) and a jeans , polo , sneakers dress code works for either gender, the one in the middle is difficult. What exactly is the female equivalent to non-jean pants, a shirt and a tie? I'll be damned if I know- but if my male coworkers are wearing that and I wear a suit, I look overdressed. If I wear slacks or a skirt and a long-sleeved blouse, I either look like I'm a middle aged woman from the 80s or underdressed or both - and I definitely look like support staff. I usually end up going with slacks, a sleeveless blouse and a sweater (which is why the blouse has to be sleeveless)
  #44  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:37 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 11,127
For business casual women can wear khaki,blue,black,etc pants and a golf type short sleeve shirt with a collar , the same as a guy . In colder months they can wear long sleeve golf type shirt.
  #45  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:51 PM
Ulfreida is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: pangolandia
Posts: 3,932
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
IMHO, it is mostly largely to two factors:

1. Women are likelier to complain "discrimination" than men, as pointed out abovethread;
2. Women's clothing is a lot harder to define than men's. Men's is just shirt, pants, shoes, and a tie. Women's has a much wider array and hence women can take advantage of that.
1. Women are actually discriminated against, which might have something to do with your first point.

2. This is a cogent point. Women struggle mightily to figure out how to look "attractive yet professional". Men only have to look professional.
  #46  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:55 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 6,168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
2. This is a cogent point. Women struggle mightily to figure out how to look "attractive yet professional". Men only have to look professional.
Indeed. Indeed.
__________________
Science created the modern world. Politics is doing its best to destroy it.
  #47  
Old 02-27-2020, 07:05 PM
AHunter3's Avatar
AHunter3 is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: NY (Manhattan) NY USA
Posts: 20,979
It's long been a source of irritation to me, although I'm also well aware that many many women have felt that they had no choice but to shave their legs, show up every day in female suitdress and hose and office heels, adorned with lipstick and light makeup. No pants for them, no flat heeled shoes. So while the dress code thing has pissed me off, I'm not so sure the women have had an easier time of it.


Having said that, I'm being picked up for a full-time permanent gig doing data entry, good pay (should rise to my standard FileMaker Pro developer level after one year, in fact), and they're totally ok with me showing up to work in a denim skirt, I will never have to wear a tie, and the Arrow shirt company is just going to have to get their money from someone else 'cuz I need not wear a button-down ironed shirt.
  #48  
Old 02-27-2020, 07:15 PM
Manda JO is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 11,903
Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen View Post
Part of the problem is that while a man's suit has an easy female equivalent ( a woman's suit) and a jeans , polo , sneakers dress code works for either gender, the one in the middle is difficult. What exactly is the female equivalent to non-jean pants, a shirt and a tie? I'll be damned if I know- but if my male coworkers are wearing that and I wear a suit, I look overdressed. If I wear slacks or a skirt and a long-sleeved blouse, I either look like I'm a middle aged woman from the 80s or underdressed or both - and I definitely look like support staff. I usually end up going with slacks, a sleeveless blouse and a sweater (which is why the blouse has to be sleeveless)
They really can't. A woman in that outfit generally looks like a retail worker, because that's pretty much the only context where women wear that outfit. And if you are busy, golf shirts are a nightmare . . .either you have to wear one that fits like a tent, or one that is inappropriately tight across the bust.
  #49  
Old 02-27-2020, 07:17 PM
Mama Zappa is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 12,675
The OP's description of what men are expected to wear puts me in mind of what we all wore back when I worked at a Big 8 accounting firm starting in the late 1980s. The difference was: women were expected to dress up to the same degree. It was rare for a female to even wear a dress versus a skirt suit. Hosiery was de regueur also. There was one older partner who was really bent out of shape on the topic; one woman told me that when he interviewed her for a job, he said "you WILL be shaving your legs, won't you?"; he would tell people they could only wear skin-colored hose (e.g. no navy or black even if those coordinated with your outfit), and woe to you if he caught you walking into the office in sneakers even if you changed to your pumps the minute you got to work.

Luckily I didn't interact with him, work-wise, and he never caught me coming in wearing sneakers (this was downtown DC - and at a very minumum, you'd be walking from a parking garage and most likely from a Metro station). I guess he thought we were supposed to find a place to sit down outside the building and change our shoes. Dunno what he'd have done if a woman showed up wearing a pair of men's dress shoes.

In fact it wasn't until the mid 1990s that women even routinely wore *slacks* to work - and by that, I mean a suit-type thing, not a pair of chinos. I never did until I came back to work after my son was born - that would have been 1995. We went "business casual" in the mid 90s, though some women did take it a bit too far and wore things that were much like what the OP described - barely covering the essentials.

So.... that was rambling, but we've never seen the same dichotomy between men and women that the OP describes.

These days, I'll even see people at the corporate office in jeans (not at the client; we're business casual there). For an employer that had, for many decades, an image of "all white men, crew cuts, white shirt, suit, tie", it's quite a change.
  #50  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:39 PM
Odesio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 11,715
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
I have men and women working for me. If one of my male employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I'll say something to him. If one of my female employees is slacking, doing substandard work, coming in late all the time, etc. I won't say anything. Reason being... I am fearful the female employee will go to HR and claim I am harassing her. Even though I'm not harassing her, my life will be over, and HR will take her side and I'll either be demoted or fired. (I have witnessed this firsthand at my workplace.) It's just not worth it. Yea, it's not fair, but I'm powerless to change the system.
You should also be fearful of a male employee doing the same. If you tagged me for being tardy while ignoring the same behavior from women I would complain to HR about disparate treatment. It's not unheard of for employees to claim they're being targeted or "picked on" when in reality their manager just wants them to follow the rules or do their work. If your HR department does have the spine to back your play then I wouldn't bother disciplining anyone.
__________________
I can be found in history's unmarked grave of discarded ideologies.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:00 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017