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Go Home And Put on Some Clothes: Resuscitating Your Dress Code at Work!
Audrey Nelson

“Dress Changes the Manner” Voltaire

Look at how people are dressed at work. Does it seem as if “casual Friday” has gone over the top? Does your organization have a dress code with specific guidelines?

Human behaviorist Desmond Morris wrote in Man Watching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior “It is impossible to wear clothes without transmitting social signals.apostrophe Our dress conveys messages of how we want to be seen. Fifty years of research that tells us you can change perceptions of a person by changing their clothes. There is no getting around it.

Dress has persuasive value that influences the behavior of others. Clothing may influence the extent to which another person may consider us credible. It is often read as a sign of character.

For obvious reasons, women’s attire has more potential for violation. For example, the “Brittany Spears Phenomenaapostrophe represents a formula of less clothing equals less credibility in the workplace. Sometimes women at work look more like they are dressing for access than success!

Next question concerns a possible double standard. Do we have different dress codes for men and women? For example, can we have dress codes that could prohibit a man from wearing pierced earrings? Disney allows one hole in each woman’s ear and no pierced earring for men. As a general rule, corporations can have different dress code rules for men and women.

Women tend to be more prone to dress code violations than men because of the complexity and variation of women’s clothing. Most employers realize that social norms, business needs and safety should guide dress codes. If it is applied uniformly it does not violate a person’s civil rights.

Here are a few specific guidelines for women:

  • Bend over in front of a mirror. See cleavage? Don’t wear it!

  • The “2 inch ruleapostrophe applies to hemlines and height of heels. Any hemline that exceeds two inches above the knee (I have seen 3-5 inches above the knee in some Fortune 50 companies!) is simply too short. Heels that are 3 and 4 inch are called stilettos. Stilettos were designed for sex appeal to push up the calf muscle and draw attention to the leg! Don’t wear it!

  • Say no to spandex. Work is not the place for provocative tight fitting apparel.

  • Avoid the Brittany Spears Syndrome: No midriff showing. Feel a draft at your midriff? Skin showing between your shirt and waistline? Don’t wear it. Okay on your time at a club, not appropriate for work

Maybe some women at work need to go home and put on some clothes!

Audrey Nelson PhD
1705 14th Street, Suite 514, Boulder, CO 80302
303-448-1800 O 303-448-1801 F