Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Dress Code

As you can probably tell I am not a fashion blogger. The reasons for this are numerous and include, but are not limited to, the following:

a) I hate pictures of myself and can only pose when someone else is in the photo with me;
b) ...or I am drunk, and,
c) *whispers* I'm just not interested in fashion

I've never been a clothes horse and my wardrobe is by no means bursting at the seams. When people talk about things they've bought that they've forgotten about and never worn, they are met with an uncomprehending stare from me. 

I don't know what the latest must-have wardrobe item is, I don't know what trend I should be rocking, I own 4 pairs of jeans, 3 of which are too big for me and/or suffering from what I endearingly call "crotch rot". (where the inside seams rub away - I know it happens to others too, it's not just me!) And before people chime in saying "I don't own jeans either", you should know that jeans are my uniform. I don't wear dresses. I don't wear skirts. I wear jeans and a t-shirt/jumper. Or pyjamas.

I don't pay attention to what other people are wearing. Ever. I am oblivious to all things clothes-related, you could be wearing rags for all I'd remember. There is no point saying "Do you remember that thing that so-and-so was wearing this one time?" because I will not. No way. No how.

But now.....

Now I am a beady eyed little hawk. Perfecting my ability to take in what someone is wearing with a mere flick of the eye. I'm keeping tabs on whether you're wearing a skirt or trousers and what colour nail varnish you've got on.

The reason?

The Dress Code.

My new work has an exacting dress-code policy, which has left no stone unturned in its quest to ensure that you are the perfect Corporate World model. As I've already mentioned, tattoos are not to be visible and body piercings have to be removed - but that's not really uncommon. But it is made very clear what you are and are not to wear.

Skirts are to be knee length and no shorter. No sleeveless tops are allowed. Tights can be blue, black, brown, grey or neutral. No patterened tights are allowed. No coloured tights are allowed. In fact, it goes as far as actually telling you that no bare legs are allowed between the 1st October and 1st May.

Nail varnish has to be subtle and un-chipped and "complement business dress" - the jury's out as to what that means.

Even the men don't escape - they're only allowed black, navy, brown or charcoal grey socks. Although somehow they are given a reprieve in that they don't have to wear a tie. Bizarre.

I was not happy when I was faced with this. Neither were ll the patterned/coloured tights and nail varnishes I have lying around. I'm not used to a dress code for work. I previously worked for a charity where the dress code was fairly relaxed. In fact, as a researcher, it would have been detrimental to data gathering in some cases if I'd turned up looking too formal. And as much as I'm ok with covering up my tattoos and taking out my tongue piercing, I do kind of resent being told I can't wear my burgundy tights. That kind of stuff is what makes me, me and I didn't want to be another Corporate Clone.

And so I watched. I observed. I saw what other people are wearing and judged how much I could get away with. I've gone from not paying attention to what people are wearing to some kind of maniac, keeping a track in my head of the different outfits people wear. 

Ultimately, I've got over it.

You're talking to someone who wore a school uniform until they were 18 (and it was a smart school uniform - all blazers and pencil skirts) and used to dread Non-Uniform Days almost as much as I did cross country. If I'm honest, I'm kind of comfortable being a Corporate Clone, I kind of like that everyone looks the same. Kind of.

And I've found ways to inject a little bit of my personality that don't involve breaking the rules. I found a nice smart work appropriate dress in Next. But I didn't buy it in navy - I bought it in pink. I don't even like pink that much - but I was making a stand. Albeit a stand I've yet to take because I'm actually a little bit nervous about wearing it to work. It's a little more "Look at me" than I would normally go with.

No this does not mean I'm about to start balancing my camera on a chair whilst I set the timer and run and try to strike a flattering post. But it does mean I might just notice you've got a nice pencil skirt on...


  1. Ugh, coloured tights. Can't stand 'em myself - anyone who thinks canary yellow legs are flattering needs to think again.

    Do you get dress down Fridays or any thing like that? You could always wear your pink dress for that if the dress code police disapprove.

    And what about pin stripes? You could have a dress-code-appropriate colour with a very inappropriate stripe. They couldn't complain about that.

  2. I hate dress codes...but oh happens in some industries. It is a bit backward but I guess image is important sometimes. I do sympathise. I've actually not applied for jobs in Asia yet because of the strict dress code and what I would have to go out and buy (everything)...

  3. See that sounds like a code I wouldn't mind, but contrary me, not if I'd been TOLD I HAD to stick to it, I'd certainly be looking for ways to subvert it. Subtle cat print dress? Little crochet brooch on your lapel maybe..?

  4. I love that pink dress!!!!!

  5. Sounds very much like my first corporate office job. I had a cardigan confiscated because I was wearing that and not my suit jacket in the office when the air-con was blasting. Tsk! x

  6. This does seem a little extreme, but I suppose it takes the guess work out of what you can wear and leaves you to focus on other, more important, things. Some mornings I struggle to decide what to wear and I have one of those bulging at the seams wardrobes you describe (and no dress code).
    I smiled as I read your transformation from oblivious to beady eyed and your plot to almost break the rules. Even though you're not interested in clothes you still want to be you. I like that. Wear that pink dress with confidence and no one will dare question it :-)

  7. This is my idea of a headache, having so many rules! Sounds like you're doing well to inject a bit of 'yourself' into the mix.
    I can't help thinking that any 'uniform' of sorts only highlights the differences in people as opposed to making everyone clones.

  8. I think that kind of think can be useful to be honest. People really do judge you by your clothes at work and I wish in retrospect I'd dressed a bit more professionally earlier on in my career.

    I quite like having a marked line between work clothes and non-work clothes anyway to enhance the giddy feeling of wild liberation I get at the weekend :)


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