Office dress codes

Girl that started at my office a few months ago just told me she was told at her interview that jeans weren’t allowed, which is a load of bollox since I and a couple others there wear jeans every day, but anyway it got me thinking. While it seems to me that it’s still fairly uncommon for offices to allow jeans, it’s been years since I worked in an office that had a really strict dress code. So how strict is it where you work? And what’s the strictest you’ve ever had to follow? My answers would be:

  1. Not at all (apart from the poor new girl, who of course feels that she can’t wear jeans like all the rest of us since she was specifically told not to); and

  2. Hitachi - I spent two weeks there as a temp in 1997. “Casual Friday” meant you could wear khakis; jeans and runners were never allowed.

Anyone else?

I work “office casual” - which in practice means collared shirt, trousers that aren’t jeans (or combats, depending on who you speak to) and no trainers. “New economy” my arse.

At my newspaper, our office hamster runs around NAKED. It’s scandalous.

As a PA (basically an underpaid RA), I have no dress code except when I’m teaching the proseminar. That’s the one day of the week when I had to wear something nice - usually khakis and a nice blouse/sweater (though near the end of the semester, I let it slide to black jeans).

Probably the strictest dress code I had was during my stint with Campus Dining Services. Khakis or jeans only, good tennis shoes, and the official CDS “polo shirt” with a matching apron and nametag. And the frickin’ CDS hat or a hairnet. If it was cold, we were allowed to wear a long-sleeved shirt under the “polo shirt” as long as the colors were coordinated and it looked nice (i.e. no long underwear tops). All I needed was a couple of pieces of flair, and I would have been working at Chatchky’s.

in my office we have to wear woodland cammo. I guess that it is one perk to being in the Army

My big distinction on work dress codes is if people have to deal w/ the general public, clients, etc. or if it’s a closed office.

The strictest: at an insurance company, had to wear dresses or skirts (no slacks allowed), no boots (not even dressy boots in winter), hose and heels. For the men, suit and tie. No sweaters, no sport coats. This was for a job in telephone claims! No public contact, ever. It was totally ridiculous.

Where I work now: for me, it varies, depending if I have big meetings slated, etc. For the staff, clean, neat and in good repair. Jeans are fine, as long as they aren’t ripped up, hanging in tatters, etc. Ditto w/ sweatshirts, etc. Just about the only thing we draw a line against are clothing w/ egregious slogans, logos, etc. (Tommy Hilfiger is tacky but fine; “in your face, mutherfucker” t-shirts aren’t.)

Actually most of the staff dress quite well of their own volition. It’s never been an issue, fortunately. My main concern is for public service. We all wear discreet badges (name on mine, title or department on others) but the main thing is that customers perceive a certain level of respect from us. It drives me nuts to go in someplace and I can’t tell who’s working there because the staff looks as slobby as the customers.

(P.S. not having their names on badges was staff decision. Some of our customers can be ::koff:: peculiar. Staff didn’t want their personal names on display as a matter of personal safety and security–and I think they’re right.)

I used to work in a bank. The Nazi dress code committee drove us nuts:

Women: dresses, slacks, shirts must have collars unless worn with a jacket. Hose and dress shoes. No patterned or colored hose. No tights. No more than 2 rings per hand (wedding set counted as one) and no more than 2 earrings per ear. No jeans, ever. Casual Fridays meant wearing the company provided polo shirt and your own khakis.

Men: no short sleeved dress shirts. Tie required. Socks should match slacks and not be short enough to show pasty white legs when you sit down.
Now I work for a company that uses “business casual” Monday through Thursday. That means that about the only thing that is forbidden is jeans. On Fridays, we get to wear jeans, but no sneakers.

Guess which company’s policy I like best???

I’m in the dog-house over dress-down Friday.

The office staff asked for and received team sweat-shirts for a corporate softball tournament. The staff then decided that it should become a policy that we have dress-down Fridays during which the sweat-shirts would be worn.

I, of course, had no clue of all this. I simply found a nice new sweat-shirt on my desk and an invite to a ball game. I thought, “Cool, free clothing,” had a great time at the game, and otherwise went about my life as normal.

I came wandering in one day wearing the sweat-shirt simply because it was clean and comfortable, only to be met with protests from the staff that it was not dress-down Friday.

Unfortunately, and much to my regret, this made me wonder if the staff had a dress code. I asked: “You dress up during the rest of the week?” To say the least, this was not the best choice of words. Seems they were dressing up, but I did had never noticed it.

I expect it will be some time before they let me out of the dog-house. And here I thought I would not have to ‘pay’ for the sweat-shirt.

I work at an archive, which means that I deal with the public on occasion, but I also have to lift and carry heavy, dusty boxes and deal with thousands of pieces of paper every day. Theoretically we are supposed to dress in business attire, but that just isn’t practical. I would say our dress is pretty close to corporate casual. Most days I wear tailored pants and a sweater or jacket. Jeans are on Fridays only. Another reason for the corporate casual rule is to distinguish full-timers from graduate assistants, who are part-timers and can wear jeans every day. Since I was a grad assistant until September 1, it’s been a little hard to get used to dressing slightly more up for work.

My first real job was in a Congressional office. There the dress code varied widely. On days the Senator was in the office, women had to wear something fairly tailored with skirts and stockings. On days the Senator was in Washington but not in the office, women could wear pantsuits or slacks, but the dress was still business wear, not casual. On days the Senator was out of town, we could wear anything we wanted.

My job has a business casual dress code, which we are supposed to follow even on the night shift and weekends. Its not really enforced at night, just as long as your jeans are not ripped or stained.

Court at one end of town requires suits. Court at the other end of town requires the full “Alfred in wing tip and bat cape.” This has led to no end of silliness when lawyers have to zip from one court to the other. Quite a few have been spotted trying to change clothing while weaving in traffic.

Since a near naked lawyer in a car crash would probably not be the best public relations coup, our staff ferries us back and forth while we change in our vehicles (and yes, I have very heavily tinted windows). Unfortunately, on a few rushed occasions staffers have forgotten to check for clients before running into the office calling out “Quick, where are XXX’s clothes? I have to go change him.”

No dress code, but I like to dress up a little so that people can tell me apart from my students. Most of the female TFs in my department do the same. About half of the guys dress up too, and the rest teach in jeans. Someday, when I’m tenured and sort of look my age, I will do the same.

Strictest dress code was when I worked at a bagel bakery: hair had to be in a knot or ponytail and covered with a baseball cap, and we all had to wear the standard-issue Bagel Bakery t-shirt with jeans or khaki shorts.

Only truly annoying dress code: my first teaching job at a private summer camp, where the boss’s wife (who didn’t even work there) called me at home to tell me I was “dressing like a kid” and “needed to dress more professionally.” (I had been wearing jeans and t-shirts like my co-workers, who were, of course, all male.) I should have told her to fuck off, but I was young and subservient then. Wore dresses for the rest of the summer; I doubt that it improved my teaching or my rapport with the kids, but I suppose one has to Keep Up Appearances. Grrr.

I work in a law firm, we are small (6 people) but we do fairly high profile insurance litigation, I’m a part timer and I could come to work naked with blue pubes if I wanted to, needless to say there is no dress code unless you are attending court

The strictest I ever had to follow as also the most inconsistently enforced: at Seattle’s biggest credit union about four years ago.

Monday-through-Thursday was slacks and dress shirts. Funny thing, that. The boss who interviewed me had a three-inch gob of mustard on his white shirt at the interview. A week later when I’d been on the job for a few days, he sat me down to inform me my polo shirt and Docker slacks were unacceptable. He said this while still wearing the same shirt with the same gob of mustard (not merely a stain) that he’d worn all week. Seems you could have a dead, rotting animal stuck to you as long as you didn’t actually violate the dress code. (This was in the IT Department.)

They had casual Fridays there, but no tee-shirts allowed and the only jeans allowed had to be neatly pressed and with a proper cuff. Yep, it reflected perfectly their tightass management style.

Any day of the week, I only wear jeans and a tshirt. My one big sartorial choice is to select which color Converse high tops to wear. One of my former bosses at the company suggested I improve my wardrobe once. I asked him to show me the dress code, and stated that once he had, we would have to make certain that the code writers abide by it as well. Since we have no dress code, and since the programmers do whatever the hell they want, he laughed and never mentioned it again. All I care about when it comes to clothes is that they’re clean.

The worst dress code I had to follow was for my first job, where we weren’t allowed to wear shorts. Fair enough, you say. But this was at a public golf course, where we worked outside at temperatures which never seemed to go below 90.

Notice to any employers reading this: If you don’t have an office, don’t have a dress code.

My last job, at Mindspring, had “minimal” dress code. The first day of orientation, the trainer came in, looked us over (a couple of guys were wearing ties, I was in a blouse and slacks), and said, “some of you are dressed like normal people. Please don’t do that. You frighten the staff.”

When I asked for clarification of the dress code, he said, “uh . . . wear some. Cover the naughty bits. Other than that, we don’t care.”

Between that and the fifth of rum that Sales kept in the breakroom freezer, I could tell that job was going to rock.

Strictest that I have worked: I previously worked for a company that required nice slacks and a tie. On Fridays, we could go without the tie.

Current situation: I must wear slacks and a shirt with a collar. The one thing that strikes me as funny about the company I currently work for is that our headquarters are in Texas, yet the dress code expressly forbids wearing cowboy boots. I wear them anyways, referring to them as “High-top Dress shoes”. :smiley: (I do keep them clean, and nicely polished, though.)

Those of you who read my posts know my employer. Our dress code varies throught the year. Different departments seem to apply the code differently, but since we don’t see our customers face to face it doesn’t really matter. I have seen people wear things that are not allowed and I have worn them myself and no one says anything.

Strictest dresscode was, of course, in the Army. Apparently wearing long black socks (issued for use with combat boots) with shoes was the sort of mistake that would lose the war. I never understood that, but it’s not an environment that welcomes questions, much less constructive criticism.

Since then, I’ve never worked with a formal dresscode except for protective clothing when using chainsaws etc. This is of course in Denmark where attitudes towards dress codes and other office regulations are quite relaxed. Yeah, we’re spoiled.

Personally, I tend to drift towards the jeans/hiking boots/fleece sweater look, but I’ve more than once spent the entire working day in motorcycle leather pants (with kneepads in green & blue, respectively), do. boots and a sweater. I have civvies at work, but I was busy…

I’ve once had an e-mail where the boss asked us, quite politely, to not wear shorts unless it really was very, very hot. And at my last job, the employee handbook had one comment on attire, namely that instructors should keep in mind that our customers might tend to dress sharper than us and that professional looking attire was a good idea for instructors, ending in the sentence: “Most men tend to look quite good wearing ties.”. How can anyone instruct without a tie after being asked that nicely ?

Generally, even the existence of a dress code is a big minus when I’m considering an employer. Of course, I’ll adhere to it if I take the job, but they’ll have to make me a good offer. If a company won’t trust me to dress suitably for the tasks & envronment, why would I want to work there ?

S. Norman