Office Dress Code Drama

I work in a small office of about 30 people. Our board is in town this weekend and today the whole staff had lunch with the guests.

Normally on Friday, we wear jeans and casual clothes. Today we were supposed to be business casual. Well I forgot and wore jeans (nice, no holes) and a button down dress shirt and loafers.

I was given a lecture by a female peer about how I need to be an example, etc. Well the woman telling me this was wearing capri pants and a t-shirt type thing. She looked like she was going to the beach or something. Needless to say, I did not take her criticism well and said that while my jeans were not business casual I certainly looked more professional than the women in the office wearing stretch pants and oversize shirts or capri pants. It got a little tense.

So women of the board, are capri pants business casual? Was I a jerk?

The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.

The phrase “business casual” has lost most literal meaning. Without specific qualification, just about the only consistency I know of is “not jeans”.

Your lecturer would only have been wrong if there were a specific company policy that enumerated permitted or forbidden clothing, and her attire was specifically contrary to that. “Look more professional” is too subjective to even take seriously, and makes an incredibly ineffective debating point.

I guess don’t hate the playah, hate the game?

Of course not. And I was probably a bit of a jerk. I was just wondering what others thought. And I certainly don’t mean to make this a men vs. women thing. I just happen to be one of five guys with 25 women. One of the guys abuses the hell out of the dress code.

I would save any capri pants I have for Casual Friday, but that’s just me.

You did forget the dress code for this particular day, so there is that.

Agreed. I definitely screwed up. I just don’t understand why jeans are so casual while yoga pants and capri pants are ok. But that’s the rule.

I never said that. I would never wear yoga pants to work, even on casual Fridays. I may as well wear sweat pants! :eek:

For me, casual Fridays mean jeans and a t-shirt and sneakers or dressy flip-flops. I have also worn a sundress. But never something I would wear to the gym.

So, as a woman in management working in an office, I can see your point about capri pants not being business casual. YMMV.

As a dude, I’d say as far as capri pants go I’d judge it on the specific pants and the rest of the outfit. As for being a jerk, yeah you nailed it. My reasons: inability to set a reminder for yourself, wearing jeans on no-jeans day, and getting defensive when called out on it.
Edit: Also, yeah, I don’t really understand the ruleset for Business Casual, but it is what it is. Sometimes you go along to get along.

Peers shouldn’t give peers unsolicited lectures about something as arbitrary and nebulous as dress codes.

Regardless of what either of you were wearing, she was out of line.

Yeah you pretty much nailed it. I was a jerk for sure. Still a bit annoyed being called out on it by someone who looked like a hot mess, but she technically was following the rules and I wasn’t. I feel the most bad for not just saying I forgot when questioned. Instead I called out the women in the office who were even more inappropriately dressed.

Personally, I consider capris to be far too casual, even for dress-down days. OK, I hate capris - I admit it - but I do feel like they’re more appropriate for a picnic than an office.

As for jeans, I don’t get the hate, provided they’re not worn/faded/torn/stained/tattered. I never quite understood why making pants out of denim was so bad but the same pants in wool would be fine.

And I have yet to work in a place where everyone complied with the dress code. There’s always one or two in the crowd…


What’s even crazier is once or twice I’ve seen a dress code that explicitly allows denim skirts but not jeans.

I think it depends on the capris. I’ve seen some that are basically just khakis rolled up a few extra inches. I could call those Business Casual if they’re worn with a nice blouse and a blazer.

T-Shirts & Yoga pants, though, are right out even on Casual Friday, imo.

Capri pants may straddle the line between business casual and casual Friday, but if your board is in town, you go conservative and eschew capri pants.

I think you have run into the sexism in dress codes. For some reason, it’s ok for women to display body parts and it’s still called “business dress” but it’s not ok for men. Men aren’t allowed to wear anything that reveals the legs, but women can wear skirts and I guess capris (although I personally consider those ugly beachwear) and get away with it. Women can wear sleeveless tops and get away with it, but if a man shows up in a tank-top, whoops.
Personally, I think a pair of nice jeans with a blazer is perfectly fine business casual attire for a man or woman.
Also personally, I do not think revealing one’s legs, arms, belly, toes, or cleavage is professional, casual dress or not, regardless of sex.

Unless either party was HR or filled the role of HR, then this should have been a Monday morning reminder email to staff, about what constituted appropriate attire.


Dress code for men. Dress pants, dress shirt. Tie and jacket if VP in town.

Dress code for woman. 10,000 shades of gray area.

What kind of fabric were they? It depends. Stretch pants and an oversize t-shirt probably aren’t. Unless they are.
I’d consider jeans business casual - but I’m on the west coast. So, the standards are probably different than other parts of the country.

That. ^^^

I might have stopped typing after the first six words, though, myself.

Off topic, but thanks for reminding me why I’m so grateful that I don’t work in an office any more.