Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dress code

After WWII, a time when scarcity of fabric had impacted the length of skirts, Christian Dior introduced American women to the "New Look" with cinched waists and long, full skirts. Apparently, some men found this discouraging.The following is an actual letter to the NY Times.

June 30, 1947
To the Editors of The New York Times

I am writing your influential paper in the hope you will publish this letter, to help bring to an end a frumpish fashion. I mean these horrible longer skirts and dresses that the dictatorial fashion experts have brought out. They a definite offense to the gaze and an insult to the Maker who gave women legs to show, not to conceal behind a screen of cloth.

I wouldn't walk two yards with a woman in a long skirt. Why can't women have character and individuality enough to wear what they desire, and not what fashion says? Prudery and narrow-mindnessness are the sinister forces working behind the fashion designers.

American Women, I call on all of you to resist to the utmost a hideous fashion. Wear your skirts as short as you desire in the name of beauty and freedom of movement. How can you move with a horrible old sack of skirt flopping around? It is 1947 not 1847.

EG Hall, Northampton, MA

Love it Mr. Hall. He who demands the gams. Mr. Hall did not yet know the 60's and 70's would bring a whole new meaning to "freedom of movement." And had he lived to today, he would see the shortest of short skirts. And in addition to all the leg he could absorb, he quite often would see the hoo-ha splashed across the pages of tabloid rags. And because of that, I am all for maybe, just maybe, you wear a skirt that covers your pelvic bones. And since Mr. Hall was adamant about dress code, this is a good time to talk about it.

I am by no means advocating for Laura Ashley up to the collar. I am sure if I had cleavage, I would free it a time or two, just never at the office. Believe me, I am familiar with companies enforcing a ban on open-toed shoes. I know this ban. I ignore this ban. And I am all for style, especially individual style, but we don't work at the traveling carnival and most offices still have rules of protocol. For those office, here are some tiny suggestions.

When you have enough cleavage visible that a grown man runs the risk of falling in and disappearing, its a touch inappropriate.

And since skin is so frequently on display now, perhaps I should say to one or two of the college interns in my previous office, Mr. Hall didn't mean it. What might be a comfortable handful of threads at the pool in the summer, is not appropriate for work. Did I see tummy? At the office? Unless I am your parent or your physician, I need not see any part of your torso. EVER.

Oh, and to the girl who has a huge bird tattoo across your chest.
Cover that up. Pronto. Better yet, I have one word for you: turtleneck.
PS: It looks like you had that done in prison.
PPS: With a hot ballpoint pen.
Whoever did it, I am sure it was their first one. Don't get the "starter tat". And don't get the tattoo that is 75% off for _____ sake.

Oh, and woman I used to work with wearing a regular length cardigan sweater that was actually longer than your dress.....mmmm....I am pretty sure you know better. HR doesn't want to have these conversations with women over the age of 35. But they will. Weird you wore that the day the CEO was in town, whom you find attractive. Or, not weird at all.

And bless your heart woman who showed up to interview at my former office wearing a shirt so sheer I could see your veins. When I saw you also toting a pleather purse with a Playboy Bunny icon on it, I pondered how many heart attacks you would initiate. I know John Grisham made it all look so sexy but that's not how we do business here. And a Playboy Bunny purse? Maybe fun for Friday nights (when you are wasted. In Vegas. And on your way to an all-male revue.) But not for 8-5.

In 1947, Mr. Hall was a renegade. A bit before his time then but oh, what would he say now.

44 comments:

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Any outfit that shows your underwear or where your underwear should be is just not appropriate for the office or anywhere for that matter.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

HA! Great one. Per my New Year's post, what is WITH all the boobs!?? In my day a lady knew ... OK, I just dated myself and confessed I was born in 1704.

NYE is one thing. But at the law office, yeah, under wraps (you feel like that would be something that does not need to be stated?)

Maybe the Playboy lady got confused with the Chanel logo?

Deep in the Heart of Happy said...

You should mail this to the newspaper, I bet they print it...

Yes, Virginia...one must have decorum and class.

I was wondering just this morning, where class is going? We must preserve it or the world will suffer a great demise.

How do YOU know about Hot Ballpoint Pen Tats?

BigSis said...

Bless you. HR does NOT like to have conversations with people who apparently have no common sense. My favorite thing to say to the young ones in the revealing clothes is, "Sure, you look cute in that outfit, but would you want to see me in it? No? Then it isn't something you should wear to work."

Mrs. Tuna said...

We once had a receptionist who thought a belly shirt when she was 7 months pregnant was the bomb. Ughhhhh

vanilla said...

--and how is the business world to cope with the tv shows in which even the police officers show enough cleavage for a grown man to fall into? And the skirts? This from a "leg man," yet decorum should be required and enforced in the work place. End rant.

Dark Mother said...

Girrrrrrrrrrrl, about the sheer skirt. Years ago when The Husband and I were about to kill each other and decided marriage counselling was safer, the therapist walked in with sheer skirt.....and an effing THONG underneath. 20 minutes into the session I was so pissed off and distracted I put my coat on and left. I didn't pay or anything.

Vodka Logic said...

Bless Mr Hall, but I'll bet he would spin in his grave if he saw how far it has gone... hem lines that is.

I work in a lab so skimpy doesn't work..unsafe. We can't wear sandles etc...safety again.

As a lawyer I would imagine your rules are fairly strict.. did Allie McBeal have too short a skirt :)

Eva Gallant said...

And while we're at it, could we ban pants so tight you can count the pubic hairs through them?

The Nice One said...

Mr Hall sounded like a pretty....um...man who likes to look at lady parts. I don't know if he'd be so shocked by today's standards ;-)

Sheer blouse and a playboy bunny purse. Making mental notes on attire for upcoming interview....

Ed said...

I see nothing wrong with the examples you gave.

Are you folks hiring?

The Boob Nazi said...

I wear a uniform to work, so it doesn't really affect me. BUT. the problem with big boobs is you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. No matter what I do, cover them up or let them free, it seems somewhat inappropriate. I just can't win!

A Cuban In London said...

Indeed, what would Mr Hall say in 2011 when faced with low-strung jeans? :-)

Happy New Year!

Greetings from London.

Scrappy Girl said...

I was wondering when a pleather playboy purse would be appropriate. I think you figured out the one circumstance that would call for such a purse...lol. Love it.

Kristina P. said...

I think partial nipple is totally fine for casual friday.

Clemson Girl said...

It always amazes me what people deem appropriate to wear to work. There is a woman who is literally popping out of her button down blouse, but I'm not allowed to wear leggings. seems fair.

Jen said...

Oh I am so with you on the insane workplace attire! I see so much of it at my office... which is probably why I chose to work from home in the comfortable modesty of my PJs.

Mr. Hall's letter is quite amusing though.

Drew said...

One of my good friends still wears the blue jean skirts from Abercrombie. Yes, the ones that look as wide a tube top. In fact, she probably still wears tube tops.

Thank god we live in different states now so I don't have to witness her terrible fashion choices on a daily basis. Oh, and she's 3 years old than me. Oh, and she goes on business trips with purple sparkley fake nail tips.

Inappropriate much?

KittyCat said...

FOr the wild woman I am, I dress pretty conservative, but then again I do work for a engeering firm. I do however own a pair of hooker boots that I wear on occasion. just to spice things up.

Bouncin' Barb said...

On my last management job, there were 5 units within Operations. I managed one. I followed the corporate dress code rule. We were 'casual' because we didn't deal with the public and it caused a boatload of issues. I'd bring someone in to point out what they were wearing was inappropriate and the next day they were attacking me with "did you see what so and so was wearing in so and so's dept."? I spent so much wasted time in management meetings, staff meetings, sr. management meetings about dress code. Everybody interprets things different and the majority have no mirrors in their home. I wrote a post awhile back about people without mirrors.

http://bouncinbarbs.blogspot.com/2010/08/no-mirrors.html

Dumblond said...

So, you're saying that when I re-enter the workforce, I shouldn't wear my pants that say "juicy" on the butt...
Duely noted.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

It amazes me some of the "outfits" I see where I work!
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Pricilla said...

Perhaps when told to dress in a professional manner for an interview these young ladies forget that they are not interviewing for the oldest profession...

Mommy Lisa said...

Oh if you could see what passes for work appropriate in my office. I am SUPER dressed up in Eileen Fisher pants and a long sleeve black t from Target with a nice necklace.

Ugh.

webb said...

Amen! I used to tell the high school and college girls that we hired to help out around the office, "no Daisy Dukes, no tube tops and nothing your mother wouldn't wear". Then I met one of their mothers... it became "nothing your GRANDmother wouldn't wear". Life around the office is hard enough without having to be the clothing police! Great blog!

Sex'n'Fries said...

So glad I did not see the huge bird, and what do you call that 'Boobie Bird
' and why?????

ChopperPapa said...

Good show! Unfortunately the ones that REALLY need this advice probably don't read anyway.

I did a post a while back talking about fashion for dudes, specifically the sandals and socks travesty. I recall saying I know of only 2 men who wear socks with sandals, men who have given up on their dreams and virgins.

Maria said...

I always wonder if they are just REALLY hot blooded...and if their hoo-has ever get a bit chilly for lack of appropriate clothing...Maybe that's why they are constantly drinking? And picking hideous accessories, such as the mentioned Playboy pocketbook...which is probably larger than all the clothing they are wearing...

K A B L O O E Y said...

Low rise jeans + any job that requires the bending of knees = inappropriate office attire.

Eric said...

Well I for one will never ever complain if a lady wants to wear a skirt that looks more like a belt to the office, hehe.

Could it be that the goofy Ally McBeal television show from the last decade has colored some women's perceptions of office attire in a professional service firm environment?

Vivienne said...

Yes. I'm guessing if Mr. Hall had to chaperone a high school dance nowadays he wouldn't be too happy either!

MommaAmma said...

Thanks for reminding me of the woman I once interviewed that had hot pink pleather skin tight pants. I didn't hire her. Partly because of the pants but mostly because when asked why she left her last job she said it was uncomfortable after she slept with the owner (little did she know, he was my uncle). Ay ay ay!

Little Ms J said...

Hear, Hear, Boob Nazi! As a well-racked woman who has lost control during pregnancy, the best I can do is tape my clothes to my flesh and hope for the best. I hear, "Jesus Christ, your boobs are huge," at least three times a day, no matter what I'm wearing.

Jaime said...

oh you've hit on such a sore subject for me! i am single handledly the reason for my office's revised dress code policy.

gee, i'm really sorry they had such a problem with my chest. if they want to pay for a reduction, i'd be happy to wear shirts that covered me up fully :p

ladytruth said...

Hopefully Mr Hall wasn't around for Betsy Johnson. Or Versace, bless his soul. I found myself nodding and yelping 'yes!' at every paragraph in full agreement like someone at a campaign rally. But on the flip side, some men should really have a set of rules for the office as well. If I see one more shirt with an arrow pointing downwards reading "The legend", I will be yelping anything but 'yes!' What do you say, JennyMac? A post on appropriate work attire for men? :)

Inge' said...

What about the women with a few pounds on them wearing clothes so tight they look like a bag of dirty laundry?

Just because they don't have full length mirrors in the trailer park doesn't mean you look good in that.

Nitmos said...

My wife works for a human resources company that matches people with jobs. You should see some of these email addresses people unabashedly list. "You can reply to 'mamasexkitten@aol.com' please". There reply is, of course, a 'no'. Mine is a 'maybe'.

SmartBear said...

A topic close to my heart. And while we are at it...let's talk about sending your 12 year old to school with a giant sequined playboy bunny on her chest, shall we? Sheesh.
Best
Tina

Stepping On Cheerios said...

Love your blog, I have an award for you:)

http://stepping-on-cheerios.blogspot.com/2011/01/and-award-goes-to-me-and-maybe-you.html

Dumbwit Tellher said...

What is the biggest frustration of all is when a company has a dress code and does not in force it in the slightest. Cleavage honestly has become the new fashion accessory. A pair of bosoms seems to be frequently in our face in one setting or another.

I'm boobed out. Jenny hoping and wishing you all had a fabulous holiday and sending good thoughts for a tremendous 2011.

Cheers my dear x

DeNae said...

To be honest, I've never understood women who dress like what you're describing, who then squawk when someone actually looks at what they've put on display. I look at exposed cleavage, for heaven's sake! When it eclipses the sun it's kinda hard to ignore!!

Aside from the fact that I'm probably something of a prude, I really can't see why anyone would dress in a way that requires explanation, perhaps with the exception of certain religious attire. What do you want people to remember you for, anyway? Shouldn't your appearance be one that is so appropriate it is virtually ignorable, allowing coworkers, employers, and clients to move seamlessly past 'how you look' to 'what you know'?

Christopher said...

Mr. Hall and I are kindred spirits I think. What an American hero.

Long live long legs!

secret agent woman said...

Who the hell does that Mr. Hall character think he is? Would he be willing to let women dictate how much skin he shows?

But I completely agree - a lot of women have lost all sense when it comes to what is appropriate work-wear.

Anna said...

Seriously! I'm a girl and I get distracted by crazy cleavage.