If Only Common Sense Were More Common

I heard on the radio the other day about a town that created a new dress code for city workers. They will now be required to wear underwear and deodorant, while visible underwear and drug or sexual messages on shirts will be forbidden.

Let me go on record. I’m not in favor of making those things part of the formal dress code. I can’t imagine how they’re going to enforce it. I agree with the premise, but the wording is a bit troublesome. I’m sure there will be a lot of legal wrangling before the dust finally clears.

That said, my first reaction to the news was sadness that it was necessary. When did people decide that underwear was optional in the workplace? The few times my bra strap has become visible, I’ve been embarrassed. I still can’t figure out why young men think we all want to see their boxers. And, unless you’re working in an industry that’s illegal in most states, the combination of high-waisted thongs with low-rise pants or skirts is not appropriate in the workplace. Ever.

I’ve been connected with a temp agency for over 5 years. I enjoy going into offices to help out on a temporary basis. It helps me to keep my skills sharp while it gives me a chance to meet lots of interesting people. It’s also given me a glimpse into the struggles that today’s human resources must have. I’ve seen people show up for work looking like they’re ready to go clubbing or maybe to hang out at a beach party. I’ve seen clearly offensive shirts. I’ve seen much more of some people than I ever wished to see.

Since I’m known far and wide as Momma Bates, let me share a little motherly advice . . .

Young men—no one will take you seriously at work if you have to hold your pants up with your hands. Your pants should cover your underwear, which you should definitely wear to work. Your shirt, on the other hand, should be buttoned to a point that covers (at the very least the majority of) your chest hair.

Young ladies—I once heard someone give this advice for the workplace: chest yes, boobies no. In other words, if it’s soft, squishy flesh it should be covered at the office. Spaghetti straps should only be worn if they’re covered by a blouse or jacket. If you have a naval piercing, no one at work should be able to tell. (That’s my way of saying you should keep your belly covered.) Skirts should be long and loose enough that the person sitting across from you cannot see your underwear, which you should definitely wear to work. Bras are not optional. Oh, and make sure that you can bend over without exposing your underwear. That includes over the top of your skirt or slacks or a glimpse under your skirt.

To everyone—brush your teeth, wash yourself, and wear deodorant.* Your opinions about politics, drugs, and sexual matters should not be broadcast by way of your wardrobe.

Those rules alone should help you to keep your good reputation at most any place of employment.

*I have met several people in my life who, for one reason or another, dislike using regular deodorants. That’s a personal choice. However, there are many alternatives out there. If your co-workers can’t tell that you don’t use deodorant, it’s not an issue. If they can, it is.

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