Does Your Company Have a Sexist Dress Code?

Tell us your work dress policy in the comments.


Today, members of the British Parliament are debating a ban on “mandatory workplace heels” in response to one woman’s 2016 petition that received over 150,000 signatures. Also today, members of My Brain are wondering how the fuck this is still a thing.

In 2015, Nicole Thorp, writer of said petition, was sent home from a temp assignment for wearing flats. Reports USA Today: “Her employment agency, Portico, had a dress code specifying that female workers must wear non-opaque tights, have hair with ‘no visible roots,’ wear ‘regularly re-applied’ makeup — and appear in shoes with a heel between 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) high.”

First of all, I fail every single one of these requirements every single day. Second of all, what is this Mad Men-era bullshit?! If these are the written rules, I can only imagine the unspoken ones. (Female workers must fetch male colleagues a nice glass of whiskey when asked? Just spitballing here.) For the record, Portico has since switched to a gender-neutral dress code. My sincere congrats to them for joining this millennium.

The Parliament debate is not over a new law. The U.K. currently has legislation in place that prohibits companies from discriminatory dress codes like these. The problem that Thorp and the thousands who signed are hoping to address is enforcement — apparently these sexist policies are still commonplace. There are also plenty of countries, including the U.S., who have failed to crackdown on workplace dreadlock discrimination.

It goes without saying that this laxity and these oversights around equality laws are a huge disservice to women. There are already plenty of social consequences around how we choose to present ourselves without the rigor of official ones. It makes me curious how many women are still dealing with this kind of thing. I’m in a bubble wherein you’re as likely to see kneecap leggings worn as pants as you are a bra layered over a shirt. And maybe you remember: the founder of my company wears not a stitch of makeup.

But it’s not lost on me that this isn’t the norm. You, our readers, comment all the time on our work dress stories (like this one, this one, this one) that our suggestions are still not conservative enough. So I want to ask: What are your dress code policies? Are they gendered? Are they sexist? Are they racist? Are they unspoken? Have you experienced consequences? How are they making you feel?

DO WE NEED TO START A SIMILAR PETITION IN THE U.S.? I volunteer to write it if so.

Photo by Edward Kasper/Conde Nast via Getty Images.

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  • I’ve had non-optional mini skirts (so short that tall girls had their buttcheeks visible when they bend over), knee high socks, short skirts and low cut sleeveless shirts, “club attire” with heels, and other types of low-V’s with skits. All of this while the males are required to simply wear all-black of their choosing. These jobs were all serving or bartending.
    There is also the fact that just walking into an interview at a lot of restaurants you get a once-over by the manager. At two different jobs (once in an interview, once when hired) I was asked to stand up and do a circle so the GM could see my body, and I would bet my non-existent savings account that the men who worked at these places were not subjected to the same objectification.

    • Holl

      I’ve had similar job interviews & dress codes & it’s so hard to weigh up the costs of putting up this bullshit & the costs of not putting up with it & not getting the job. Has anyone managed to skirt this issue successfully?

      • Abby

        When I worked a beach themed waitressing gig, the ladies wore super small sarongs with bathing suit bottoms and a strapless white top and we were *technically* allowed to request to not wear that and wear the same uniform as the guys (shorts/short sleeved collared shirt) but it was heavily implied that we would get crappy shifts if we made a stink about the uniform. I really wanted to stand up for myself, but I also really needed money, and I wore the bathing suit even though it made me super uncomfortable. To this day I regret not speaking up more, but I don’t know how I would have done that and kept my job.

        • Olivia AP

          OMG, this is terrible. We have a very long way to go. If you work at a bar you have to dress provocatively to attract customers. In you work at an office dressing professionally means you can’t show anything because you distract male coworkers but look nice as in wearing heels (!? WTF) How about teaching men to behave appropriately and not be judging women on what they are wearing.

      • Alison

        Points for the pun?

        • Holl

          all about the puns

    • Samantha Buchalter

      I’m a lawyer–which comes with its fair share of gender inequality–and I was horrified by my boyfriend’s job. He works in marketing for a beer company and has to design the outfits that the “beer girls” wear to serve at their events. He sent me the mock-ups of the outfits that were proposed by the agency and I had a visceral reaction to the typical mini skirts and slit t-shirts with faux/photoshopped cleavage. Not one to hold my tongue (lawyer), I told him it was disgusting and to his credit, he agreed. He ended up getting his company to agree on a black leggings and sporty zip up outfit that is not as revealing, is much more closely aligned to what men wear, and also goes along with the light beer’s marketing. I do wonder what the “beer girls” thought about the outfits; if I ever go to an event I might have to ask them.

      • Haha, as the daughter of a lawyer I have inherited that trait, but speaking up is usually worth it!

    • BarbieBush

      Isn’t there something here about taking personal responsibility too? I’m not discounting that that is bullshit. I went to this horrible restaurant once called the “tilted kilt” and yes exactly what you describe. But you applied for that job! You saw the other waitresses when you went in there. I understand that if $ is tight you do what you got to do and I can understand not wanting to quit if you already have the job. But you aren’t there under false pretenses. Its a game. Like hooters and whatever else you are making the choice to use what you have physically to your advantage against dumbass men..for tips, whatever. Its your choice and there is no judgement from me on any woman from waitresses to sex workers but you aren’t really a victim when you are hired for a job and you sign a contract to do that job.

      • Yah I mean you’re right, it is part of the job, but I think the point here is that that doesn’t necessarily make it OK. It is not a time for me to be choosey which makes it hard to point out inequities. (Definitely not saying I’m a victim! Just some of the wacky things in the industry)

      • Cathryn Roosa

        I think the point is that men do not have the same dress code. In most of these environments the men get away with wearing very normal, respectable clothes while the women are objectified. And that’s pretty shitty.

        • BarbieBush

          Definitely agree with you (and Julia Pakstas). It is fucking insane to see woman wearing like a referee jersey that only covers her nipples and pubic triangle and see men wearing the standard all black. I understand the pros of noticing and pointing that out. I guess to me it just seems soooo obvious that that is shitty and I think the people who patronize these restaurants for that reason like that shittiness. They don’t want to see men objectified they want like booze and boobs.

          It will always be lame AF that women have to not do certain things because of sexism. And I think some people’s feminism lets them be empowered by those outfits which is awesome too.

          I don’t see us having any power here other than not going to the restaurants and not wearing the outfits.

    • dietcokehead

      When I applied for my first restaurant job, there wasn’t a clothing rule or disparity, but the GM made a big fuss in the interview of making clear that it was a sexually charged environment, that “there’s a lot of grab-assing and that kind of thing,” and that anything you’d expect to be an HR issue was basically just not gonna be handled that way. And this was a pretty average nicer casual dining place. I ended up finding out that manager was a swinger. He used to call me “mistress.” It was hella weird. I actually appreciate the honesty — working at a bar is definitely that kind of environment pretty much across the board, and it’s good to know what you’re getting into, especially if you’re young and inexperienced. But what a weird thing to have to say.

  • OH, also “club-style” makeup has been mandatory at some of my jobs. I can barely put on mascara I felt like a kid playing dress up. The manager at this job (separate from the ones I’ve already mentioned) also jokingly offered up his office to the servers if they had any special guest requests. From the outside, this was a classy place.

  • Abby

    While I have worked in places with very gendered dress codes (ie: cocktail waitressing gig where the guys wore shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and the ladies wore strapless tops with sarongs and bathing suits, ugh) my current job’s dress code is basically “don’t look sloppy”. But I’m in a women dominated field now and only really dress up if I have meetings. Otherwise, it’s a sweater, collared shirt, and black slacks on the daily. I haven’t worn a high heel since my waitressing days and intend to never wear them again.

  • Not specifically, but I question how much of our work wear is unspoken dogma passed down. I usually work at a company for over a year before I wear my natural hair in an afro. I am 31 and have been employed since 14 and have never worn an afro to an interview. I think we all know the expectation from society and we perform them in the workplace. The exceptions usually are those who either find themselves super privileged or super unprivileged.

    • Kelsey Moody

      An interesting follow up article from this discussion could be: interview attire vs job attire after 1 year vs job attire after 2+ years, etc. (attire meaning clothes, hair, heel height, make up, and such) How much does time factor into evolution of office attire? Is it entry level vs executive level specific? A comparison of privilege over time/job title progression and what attire corresponds at these moments would be fascinating to see from a wide range of women

      • Natty

        I like this idea. I am on year 6 with my current company (a bank) and today I am wearing jeans. JEANS. when I started I only wore suits. I think my fuck-giver is broken and I have no intention of fixing it.

  • BarbieBush

    I work in a small tech company–software development for “vital” statistics. So that means I work in tech, healthcare and government. Our dress code is gendered but I think works to womens’ advantage. Not in soo many words but men have to wear collars and women just have to look “nice”. That is what I see in most of my interactions inside and outside of long as you look nice and mildly professional you can wear most things within reason.

    I am one of the peeps that is always like…”I could never wear that!” when you write the articles. I love those articles, all those women look awesome and it is cool to see Amelia styling stuff because she is so talented across genres and it is like woah awesome to see her creativity spread out..especially bc IMO she is a more “practical/real-world” dresser than Leandra. I think the biggest thing in companies like mine is you aren’t supposed to look weird in a way people can call you out for. Like “you are here to work it isnt a fashion show missy!” is something I imagine my white old man CEO saying behind my back. I can have on some original pieces and a fun hair style or jewelry but I can’t reeeeeaally express myself or wear what I want, even on casual days. I am also only one of two women and I know that for all my considerations I am still definitely the weird “hip” liberal one in the office.

    But also I am looking for a new job so that probably speaks for itself.

    • Heather Chambers

      I’ve just accepted that I will always be the resident office weirdo. I try to make it as non disruptive as possible, and just hope everyone else enjoys the ride.

  • Cassia

    In my previous work place, an old manufacturing company in Italy, there was an unwritten but enforced dress code for the men – closed shoes and long trousers always. Women could get away with anything though, including spaghetti straps and flip flops in summer. My feeling is that the dress code was sort of frozen in place before there were a lot of women in the workforce and when the ladies did come on there was no simple equivalent to the men’s dress code. A friend of mine works in private banking and there the written dress codes are again simple – long sleeves and ties for men, flesh colored hose, close toe shoes and covered shoulders for women. The unwritten rules are neutral colors, straight hair (really!) and make-up for women, short hair and no facial hair for men.

  • There’s an unspoken rule that you ‘should’ be wearing heels at work… When I don’t wear them I don’t feel as professional. In terms of being a waitress though, not only is it less shifts if you choose (or can) wear a less sexualized outfit, but you get wayyyy less in tips from the clients that you’re serving.

  • Rebecca

    I’m lucky to work in a business casual environment, everyone wears jeans! But I still find it gendered regarding the length of items, which is obviously geared towards women as men do not typically wear short shorts or skirts to work. “A skirt or shorts may not fall more than 3 inches above the knee,” as stated in the dress code policy.

    However, as an addendum to the official policy, I have noticed this policy is enforced in relation to body type and size. More petite or thinner women are much less likely to be spoken to in regards to a “too short” item; whereas I am typically considered larger and was spoken to twice when I first began working for the company when I was in my early 20’s for two dresses worn with completely opaque tights. I have since seen dozens of women wearing much shorter items with bare legs. I don’t mind women wearing short items to work, but I do wish the policy was equally enforced.

    But generally, I feel dress codes are completely unevenly enforced and total bs! People might be more productive if they were able to wear what makes them truly comfortable or the best versions of themselves! And I find it inspiring when you can tell someone feels great about themselves in the workplace.

  • Georgia Booth

    Our summer casual policy permits women to wear a “knit pant suit”
    Hasn’t been updated since the 70s it seems but luckily it isn’t enforced at all in my office!

  • Ma

    I work in finance and have been called out not only once but twice

    (by two different employers) for wearing trousers to work – yes, Zara work collection, straight, dark blue trousers (I believe one of my manager’s exact words were “women shouldn’t wear trousers to work” – I couldn’t believe when I heard it). However, I do get away with wearing flat sandals in the summer, so I guess there’s a trade-off kind of situation? I do also continue to wear said trousers whenever I don’t have any important meetings, so all in all is not too bad. What I struggle with is actually 1) finding skirts and dresses long enough for work, but still stylish – I’ve seen several that could work, but being tall doesn’t help on this quest and 2) having to constantly avoid repeating the same outfit in a short period of time – when I first started working I was told having 20 (!) different outfits was the key to work wardrobe success (while guys rotate 5 shirts and two trousers and that’s all). So yeah, sexist, but I guess it kinda goes both ways

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      TROUSERS were a problem??? omg i hate the world.

    • june2

      “”women shouldn’t wear trousers to work”
      No. This is an occasion that calls for (respectfully) schooling the manager. In a working environment, you are a business professional before you are a women and men of any rank need to be informed of this. As a subordinate, it requires finesse but as a women it IS your job to inform him or HR of the need for fairness.

      That said, in this kind of environment I would make sure my pantsuits are really lux.

    • what the actual fuck

  • Alison

    My first job (Chile) had a funny-not-funny dress code. Women were required to wear heels; the rest of the list was basically a list of things that you couldn’t wear (nothing too tight, too revealing, etc.) The men’s list contained three items: dress pants (khakis included), dress shirt, tie.

  • am4

    Being forced to wear heels is totally unacceptable, but I wonder if part of the reason why such a ludicrous rule has been maintained at so many corporate companies is that it is a lazy way of making sure that women wear smart footwear to work? I’ve noticed that while men’s flat shoes in an office environment are almost always smart brogues or loafers, some of the women’s flat shoe choices can be cheap-looking ballet pumps from Forever 21, for instance (which always manage to look more worn-out than Forever 21 heels…) Obviously this doesn’t justify the heels rule in any way and probably suggests that there aren’t enough smart-but-practical-but-stylish workwear options for women, but I was just wondering…

    • am4

      And clearly enforcing makeup and skirts is ridiculous

  • Meg S

    The men’s dress code is much more simple than the women’s dress code. Of course, there are the basics: no torn clothing, look nice, etc. But when you get into the women’s dress code, it goes into extreme detail. No shorts or skirts above a certain length (I think it was 2 inches above the knee), no bare shoulders, no skinny pants, no leggings, no denim of any color. This is the abbreviated version, but every woman in my building pretty much looked at that, laughed, and chucked it. It was written by a man who doesn’t work in our building, is never in our building, and who I’m better off not seeing because I didn’t vote for him and he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Oh, and businesses. He’s very pro-business. So pro-business that he waives fees for business owners and passes them onto taxpayers.

    If he tells me my skinny pants and leggings and ~bare shoulders~ (scandalous!) are too provocative because I work in an office with ~men~, then not only is he being inappropriate with someone who works for him, he thinks that grown men can’t control themselves around the sight of a leg wrapped tightly in fabric or a bare shoulder peeking out of a sleeveless dress in summer when the AC is shut off before the building closes on crazy hot days to ~save money~.

    I may have gone a little off the handle there, but this is an elected government official telling me that skinny pants are too sexy for work. In the pair of skinny pants I wore today, you could see my ankles. Scandalous!

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I’m a teacher and I have to follow the student dress code as far as skirt length is concerned, and I can’t wear rubber flip-flops. I can wear sneakers every day if I choose, and I can wear jeans on Friday(no rips, tears). I wear what you would call business casual. Men are supposed to wear ties except on Friday.

  • Shevaun

    I’m a librarian-in-training and so it’s a lot of cardigans and sweaters etc. I work at a religious library currently, so I can’t wear anything too “revealing” whatever that means, but since I tend towards pants and long-sleeve shirts anyway, it’s been fine.

    BUT, at my last job, which was for a small local business in the town over from my hometown, I was basically targeted by the accounting woman who seemed to find fault with everything I wore. For instance, I bought fucking coral bermuda shorts (ICK) for work, because it was summer, it was hot, and I was tired of wearing pants. They literally came to about a finger above my knee. And she told my manager to tell me they were too revealing and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. There was other stuff too, but that one pissed me off.

    Meanwhile, my older coworker was wearing skirts and shorts and sleeveless tops all the time. I chalked it up to the fact that I was the youngest person in the office, so anything that isn’t like a goddamn blanket is considered too revealing.

    I’ve worked in super masculine fields too, but they were all manual labor, so you just dress like the bois.

    Oh and whenever I read about waitress/serving attire, I just feel so incredibly grateful that I haven’t had to deal with the shit that y’all have to deal with. It’s crazy that this garbage still goes on.

    • Meg S

      What kind of person thinks bermuda shorts are too revealing? Furthermore, why can someone in accounting dictate what you wear to work? Sounds like she had some issues of her own to work through if she spent so much time focused on what you wore to work instead of doing her job. The one that, as a person in finance, you think she would understand she was being paid to do.

      • Shevaun

        she was one of those old-timers who had been with the company for SO FREAKIN’ LONG that she was essentially regarded as management/owner, so a lot of the employees kowtowed to her. we just never got along, because i had the exact attitude towards her that you just laid out there, and that didn’t go over too well.

        yeah and WHAT THE HELL ABOUT BERMUDA SHORTS RIGHT? like, i don’t even fucking like bermuda shorts. i bought them literally to wear at that job because i lived in the desert and was tired of wearing pants.

        also (and this is heading into tl;dr territory so feel free to check the heck out), i mean, all the ladies i worked with were moms, so they were always yelling at me about my clothes. “Too much black!” “Why that red eyeshadow!?” “Those shoes are awfully chunky!” etc. etc. It was just one of those places.

    • Catherine Bohner

      For real. I’ve had a few forays into the edges of the service industry and it amazes me the degree to which they play by their own (mostly bullshit, often misogynistic, and occasionally abusive) rules.

  • S Whan

    I read a recent article that said that the air-con (thermostat?) temperature in an office is sexist. In Australia, all the office buildings are freezing – meaning I still wear thick tights on sweltering hot days – because the temperature is turned down so low for the idiot men in thick three piece suits.

    • TinySoprano

      Totally true! Also an Australian in an office, and half the girls on my floor bring in ‘work blankets’, no joke.

      I wear flats, pants and minimal makeup on the regular, and the only time I’ve been told off for my dress was the one time I wore a bardot top. With baggy ’40s pants and brogues. I was like, yah-huh, so a sliver of shoulder on a flat-chested gay girl is going to corrupt all the poor innocent engineers *eye rollllll*

      I still don’t get how my bony shoulders are more inappropriate than super-tight wiggle dresses with heels.

      • jillygirl

        Skin is too much in a professional environment. It’s never been business-like, even for men.

      • Heather Chambers

        My office only turns the heat on for a couple of hours over the weekend, and I swear it doesn’t heat all the way back up until at least Tuesday, if not Wednesday (we also have a LOT of windows.) It’s not uncommon to see women in shawls/ponchos on really warm days, and I’m pretty sure most of us keep a large scarf or lap blanket at our desks.

    • Adrianna

      It’s a problem in NYC. My office is casual, meaning we can wear shorts, and the executives do not wear suits. But still, the office is freezing. Our office manager confirmed that the office is refrigerated because the executives’ offices (with floor to ceiling windows) heat up in the summer.

  • Anne Dyer

    The owner of my company (a mid range clothing line) walked into his Beverly Hills store and asked why a heavy set guy was working there. Said guy tried to diet and work out to fit into the mold. Dude shoulda ordered a donut and kept doing his job.

  • Our dress code is pretty casual, one of the perks of working in fashion. But it’s kind of weird. We’re allowed to wear crop tops, mini skirts, and show off our backs, but shorts must be at least mid-thigh unless worn with tights.

  • Phoebe

    I work in a corporate law firm in Australia and boss told me not to wear heels to work (I do every day). He is shorter than me. Recently a colleague told me I “looked like a lesbian”

    • Cora

      I am a voyeur who never comments but I felt so identified with this piece! I am a fellow lawyer (hi there Phoebe!) in Spain and my boss told me the exact same thing! (he is also shorter than me). Kept wearing heels despite his comment. Also when it comes to dress code my firm is quite tolerant on the praxis although the theory has some absurd rule such as ban on wearing “too bright or too bold prints”. I try to be truthful to my man repelling style, and even if I am going to Court I try to give a twist to my black suit-white shirt combo by wearing bold shoes or some statement jewelry or anything that reminds me that despite being a 26 year old woman in a male dominated world, I do not need to give up my personality or my style in order to be taken seriously. Keep up the good work MR! you inspire me everyday! Besos from Spain

  • Evelien Brand

    Maybe a petition against dresscodes in general? It’s not about clothes, it’s about your work. Look at Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, my boss who is now meeting Very Important Clients in a cut off jeans. It’s ridiculous that women should wear heels, but a suit doesn’t seem very comfortable as well. If your actions don’t speak louder than your outfit, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t blame the outfit!

  • I work for a lot of creative small businesses so pretty much everyone is dressed pretty casually…even if our content has to do with fashion sometimes there’s no real reason for me to dress creatively to help *create* that content.

    I dress casually because the boss’s attire and make-up free face seems to signal I can do the same. But I’m trying to reel myself back in because I’m starting to tread dangerous territory that borders hoodies and sweats. Not that I would ever wear that, but the *essence* of it is there. And I know I probably still should look dressier than the employer because it *isn’t* a 2 way street, *my* opinion of *their* attire doesn’t matter.

    I’d still much rather have it this way though. I hate “business attire” and I hate the idea of being obligated to wear heels, unnecessarily tiring you out so that you have a pair of flats hiding under your desk…I mean…

  • CHK

    I think dress code discrimination can be focused on body types too. I work at a hedge fund, and have a pretty curvy body. If I wear a Theory sheath dress, it’s vulgar. If a skinny colleague wears a Theory sheath dress, it’s chic and professional. Can’t win.

    • Alyssa Neilson

      Love that you brought this up. Even works for women that aren’t curvy but have big breasts, etc. I’m not flat-chested and even though I hardly wear open/v-neck tees I still feel weird wearing tight turtlenecks that make my breasts look too large (vs loose blouses or shirts).

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      damn, this is so true

  • Fat Monica

    My old job had a NO PANTS RULE for women. If you are a woman, you literally must have a skirt or dress on. No casual Fridays.

    • Did you work at MR on Fridays? #nopantsfridays

      Kidding. That is so abhorrent. I work for an investment bank in Singapore, and hate wearing skirts. Almost all of my colleagues are in skirts/ dresses everyday.

      Today I am in Kamm Pants and a black blazer and feeling fyyyyyne.

  • Catherine Bohner

    I’m an archaeologist, and it’s actually the guys that get called out for inappropriate attire most often. But we all wear the same thing, the guys just tend to wash theirs less/have more holes. That being said, there’s plenty of other gendered bullshit in my field.

  • Anya Warwick

    You need to realize that you work at Man Repeller, and she works at an accountancy firm. There is a BIG difference between the office apropos between the two workplaces.

    Also, is a dress code really sexist when men are expected to dress a certain way as well – wear suits and ties, be shaven, and have a clean hair cut as well? When you work in corporate those are the norms. If you don’t agree with the culture at a company, then go and find a job that suits you better.

    I work at a tech start up and wear whatever I want to work everyday and this is de to the modern and rational culture of my industry. But when you’re dealing with industries that have a foundations centuries old (banking, law, etc) shit’s going to be different.

    Different industries have different norms. Just because at your office, Haley, you wear Man-Repeller-esque outfits and that’s the norm at your office, doesn’t mean it’s that way across the board.

  • Jeanie

    I work in an animation company in LA with a relatively even male to female ratio. There’s no strictly enforced dress code. It’s pretty casual, and everyone is professional enough to dress clean and appropriate. I probably push the boundaries the most at our work by wearing Nippie brand pasties instead of a bra a lot of the time. I work in a dim room anyway. I kinda go by my high school dress code standard when choosing skirts or shorts length at work. It must pass my finger tips, but That’s my own rule for me. Another coworker dresses kinda goth-punk. My hasband works at a mobile game company and wears sweats to work sometimes. It’s pretty casual at his place too.

  • Rebecca

    I used to be a middle school teacher and the administration held a “dress code review session” for female teachers. They told us to “think about our best asset and cover it” lest we invite the lust of our 13-year old students. There was no similar session for male teachers.

    • ally

      in fairness, there is not really a comparable issue for male teachers. most men’s slacks do nothing to expose so it’s kind of just a fact of life. I have seen middle school teachers with cleavage that went beyond what would be considered “professional dress” – for some reason they were clueless.

  • Claire from London

    My previous job was at a very old-school finance firm in the City of London, so a very conservative suit-and-tie office. Over the summer they would relax the dress code, sending out an email detailing what you couldn’t wear. For women the list went to over a page (no tops with spaghetti straps, no flip flops, no beach wear, etc etc). The list for men had only 3 items: no open-toed sandals, no shorts, no Bermuda shorts. I’m still completely perplexed about why they felt they had to list Bermuda shorts separately, like some dude might turn up in a jacket, tie and Bermuda shorts “oh I didn’t realise no shorts meant no Bermuda shorts!”

  • b_rose96

    My work place is casual, jeans and a black company shirt provided. There was only one issue I had, the girls shirts were tight/fitted and ran small (no thx if u have boobs and curves) and the boys were regular t shirts/polos. They didn’t seem to care too much if girls asked for guys shirts, until I asked for polos to look more professional. IT TOOK 6 MONTHS FOR ME TO GET POLOS. But I did and no I am v happy 🙂

  • Heather Chambers

    My workplace has an entirely unwritten dress code. Officially it’s “business casual” but it’s definitely the upper end of business casual for Seattle. As far as the industry (law firm) goes though, it’s quite casual. No spaghetti straps, no jeans (although this seems to mostly mean no blue denim or obvious denim washes, my black as night skinny jeans have elicited no comment) sneakers have to be plain and solid color, if your skirt or dress is “too short” (what qualifies as too short was not specified) wear tights or leggings underneath.
    In practice, they also don’t like non-traditional hair cuts or too many tattoos. My extremely short undercut was not appreciated, nor the quantity or obviousness of my tattoos. Other women in the office have visible tattoos, but they are fewer in nature and also not combined with a “weird” haircut. I’m taking this as an opportunity to try growing it out (at my last job I had to wear my hair up, now I can at least hide the growout with my hair down?) Also, expectations for staff vs attorneys are different, although unspoken. IT staff definitely get away with being more casual, and assistants and receptionists also seem to have more leeway.
    I tend to end up wearing bright colored silk shirts, or interesting vintage pieces that stand out but are still technically formal enough. And so many cardigans. Cardigans or blazers all the time; although I smile at the thought of how the admins eyes would bug out if he ever saw my forearm tattoos.

  • Maggie O’Rear

    I actually cannot believe a company would even address makeup and visible roots in its dress code! As a student, the only experience I have had with corporate setting is in an intern position. At each company I’ve interned at there has been a different culture which has affected what I wear and has made it hard for me to know what actually is appropriate in the workplace as a whole. I usually just learn by example from my superiors but I have definitely felt like I have been judged before for my outfit choices since I tend to dress on the more casual side since I balance school and interning.
    – Maggie O’Rear, class of 2017
    Freeman School of Business / Tulane University

  • Aggie

    I am a bit late to the party on this article BUT I actually used to work for this company when this happened and the first thing the CEO did was send us all an email saying we weren’t allowed to post anything about the company on social media. The second thing they did as it got too big and mainstreamed to every newspapers in the U.K: he told us we now had the option to wear flats. That’s it.
    BUT then when my boss came to visit me he said that even though this was the new company policy, if the owner of the building (who hires these services) decided he wanted me to wear heels, I would have to…

    I’ have quit this company since but don’t praise it, it was far from being the progressive type! I’m glad MR is talking about this actually because most girls I’ve shared my story with told me that wearing heels makes you look nicer and more professional so they didn’t see the problem on it not being an option but a rule.
    Love you MR!

  • GrumpySteve

    I hate to be the one to burst the bubble, but the simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of employers having a formalised dress code discriminate against men rather than women. The most common office dress code, certainly in the UK, is for men to be forced into jacket and tie while women are told to “dress appropriately”, meaning women can wear anything that is not indecent, except perhaps blue jeans and flipflops. Very few employers today actually force women to wear skirts, makeup or high heels, very many still force men to wear jackets and ties. Almost none allow men to wear smart short trousers in the summer. The tyranny of the tie is ending slowly, but gender-specific requirements for women are disappearing much more quickly.