Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily MelWear: Before and After: The Verdict

Oh, you guys are going to have a field day with this.

So, remember my dress from yesterday? I really like that dress. I think it's professional, classy and stylish, and other than the sleeves not being a full sleeve (it's more cap-sleeved rather than an actual short sleeve), it really does fit the dress code.

I wore the blazer all day until lunch time, when our boss and a co-worker, M., decided to walk a few blocks to pick up sandwiches for themselves. My other co-worker, A., and I brought our lunches but decided to walk with them because it was a really warm (in the 80's), nice day. I took my jacket off and headed toward the door with the other three women. My boss looks at me and says, "Well don't you look slinky!" I responded by saying it was too hot outside to wear the jacket. She said that I really should wear it because we'll be walking past other department's houses/offices and I could be seen by other staff members. I said that I'll put the jacket on and stay here in the office instead of taking a walk with them, but it was too hot to wear the jacket if I go walking outside. My co-worker A. offered to pick up our boss's lunch for her if she didn't want to walk with us and at that point, our boss said that I could go with them and if anyone says something to her about how I was dressed, she could say that she simply didn't see me take off the jacket before leaving.

This bothers me on a few levels. For one thing, if it's on my lunch break and I'm not wearing my staff badge, I should be allowed to wear whatever I'd like as I would on any other time off, such as the weekend. For another thing, I don't feel that the dress was in any way inappropriate. Lastly, it makes me sad that our will not stand up for us if someone else makes a comment to her about our attire. Even if she did think it looked nice, the fear of someone else making a comment was enough for her to decide that it wasn't okay. I'm willing to bet that if someone else, one of the other staff members that *might* have seen me, were to say to her that they thought the dress looked nice, my boss would likely agree emphatically and be fine with me wearing it.
What's also frustrating is that when I wore a certain dress one day, she told me that she liked my outfit. When I wore the same dress another day, she told me that it was too low cut.

Which leads me to our discussion about the dress code, which took place AFTER the lunch fiasco.  In a way, it seemed as though she agreed with our requests. We can wear jewelry as long as it's removed if we're seen by any other staff member (if they visit our office or we leave). Same goes for sandals and open-toe shoes (yay!). Prints need to be minimal and we're not entirely sure if she said that we could wear prints on skirts or not, but two of us did today. Skirts may be no shorter than just above the knee (this skirt is as short as we're allowed). As for sleeve length, she said that we're allowed to wear sleeveless in our office only and if we set foot outside our office, for lunch or any other reason, or if we have guests stop by, we MUST have some type of cover-up (blazer, sweater, bolero, anything with sleeves).

She also reserved the right to deem any piece of clothing inappropriate regardless of whether or not we feel that it complies with the rules and in that case, we are not to wear that item to work again, unless the offense is remedied (such as it being too low cut and we wear a higher shirt underneath).

Honestly, I drive to work every day nervous about whether or not she will find my outfit acceptable. I really like my boss, I really like my job. My boss has been a pleasure to work for, especially considering recent experiences. I just get so nervous about my attire here. Like I said, one day she'll tell me that my outfit looks nice and the next she'll decide that it's too low cut or too short or something. I can't ever be sure that what I'm wearing is okay.

I want to look appropriate and professional, and I want to stay true to myself. However it seems as though when I do wear prints or colors or any type of accessory or anything creative, anything that makes my outfit "me", it's not appropriate. I need to figure out how to dress professionally for this office.

I want to be a GREAT employee, I want my boss to be proud of me and comfortable with my presence at any work function.

So...that's my before and after story about the verdict of the dress code requests. This post has been long enough already (sorry about that - kudos to you if you read all of it!!!) so I'm just going to end here.

Today's outfit:
Skirt: Target
Pink Tee: Target
Brown Jacket: Can't remember
Pink Belt: Salvation Army
Necklace: Target
Shoes: Target
Um...I'm seeing a pattern here. Target, wanna sponsor me? Heh.


  1. I don't think that dress was slinky at all and I feel it was a bit rude for her to call you out like that. I'm sorry it's so weird. I hope it all works itself out. I think you always look cute and professional :)

  2. That is a little crazy. I have issues with dress codes anyway, but really? It almost seems like a form of bullying to have to pass inspection everyday. I'm not a big fan of lining up to be judged based on my physical apperance. And for her to judge if you could walk down the street with her based on your outfit is rediculous. It was unprofessional for her to embarress you like that in front of others which I think is a bigger issue than if your sholders were showing or not.

  3. I didn't think the dress was slinky - maybe the *wee slightest* bit form fitting - but seriously - if you had a jacket over it at work and you were going to lunch - it should not have been a problem. It's your lunch. The time that you are NOT paid for. Time that is ALL YOURS!! If you wanted to slip into some house shoes and sweat pants you should be able to do that. UGH!!!!

    That being are not having to adhere to the exact dress code and its not quite as bad as it was in the other building....I am glad that she left you some leniency. look sooo cute today!!!

  4. I am sorry you are so frustrated. I don't think I would have been able to stay in the job given the way the rules are setup. I just couldn't respect not being able to show my individuality. I hope you find a balance.

  5. Ugh, I typed a nice long comments, then got an error message. All right, I'll summarize
    - Love the mix of bright pink with a more traditional "lady-like" skirt!
    - I do sympathize with you, but I tried to think of where your boss is coming from. Personally, she probably likes your style and is a little jealous of your confidence in wearing a lot of it. She probably is also frustrated by the dress code, but because of her position, she has to tow the line. The Jekyll/Hyde nature of her comments probably comes from that.
    - She also is probably taking a risk professionally by letting you amend the dress code. I'm sure she must report to someone else, and it's likely that person isn't as lenient as she is. While it doesn't seem like much to give you more freedom when no one else is around, she does have to put a lot of trust into all of you that you will have closed toe shoes, cardigans etc at the ready the moment the situation changes. And if you don't, it's likely that not only would you get in trouble, she would as well. And it would really suck to get into trouble for something someone else is wearing.
    I think she handled the situation yesterday poorly, but I think she'll slowly come to trust you!

  6. your dress code gives me a headache, Melissa! I can imagine you feel stressed every day - I would, too, with all those rules!

  7. Wow, I'm stressed just by reading your dress code rules, so I can totally understand how you must feel everyday! It sounds like there was some progress made with your proposal, although still very subjective, depending on what kind of mood your boss is in that day.

    I always get frustrated over work place politics, but I have to remind myself to be thankful I have a job.

  8. I have a totally different take on this Melissa. If you love your job and love your boss (both hard to find!!) I say just wear the dress code and treat it like a "uniform" of sorts. Many jobs have to wear uniforms, and I would just play along with the corporate code. Get some items you love that fit you fabulous and rotate, pencil skirts and oxford tops, suits, sheath dresses and blazers. Mix and match to your conservative hearts content! Then, after work and on the weekends, show your style! I don't think it's worth the headache to fight the code.

    Your boss is probably answering to a much higher HR power and is putting herself out there as well. I used to work in HR and the company has a legal right to ask employees to adhere to the dress code.

    Any show you watch on TV depicting a professional woman, she is always wearing the basic boring professional wardrobe- sheath dress, suit, pencil skirt and solid colors with conservative jewelry, pumps. I'm thinking of Allie McBeal, Fairly Legal, Law and Order. I have several friends that work for Virgin America and they are told what to wear down to their nail polish and lipstick!! They are called out if they veer from the code!

    As crazy as it might seem, in corporate America, the way you dress really does have an effect on how you are viewed as professional. I started out as the receptionist at a large commercial real estate firm. I wore a suit daily -it wasn't long until I started moving up the ladder- after 1.5 years I was running the HR department - I truly believe, that "dressing the part" had a lot to do with getting noticed.

    Currently,I wear a "uniform" as I call it to work. This past year, I kind of deviated from it because I was so into Anthropologie. While my fellow female workers appreciated my "Anthro" style, I could tell my bosses weren't too keen on it! Just not "corporate" enough for them!

    Sorry, um this is super long - just trying to give you another perspective! Good luck!

  9. I'm glad that the dress code discussion went favorably! I agree that if you are out of the office on a break then you shouldn't be required to wear a jacket.

  10. Peggy and Cara bring up great points. It's true, she is probably being held up to it by a bigger HR power.

    I am so thankful I work with three guys who could really care less what I wear. I have a very casual work dress code.. the guys I work with wear jeans/khakis and polos every day... so I am usually dressed "up" in comparison to them!

    But I do think it sucks for people like us who love to express ourselves through our clothes. Dress codes can be such a bummer, especially when there are so many stupid rules.

    and in the south- it is assanine for any employer to expect women to wear hose, heels, AND a blazer when outside. It's too freaking HOT.

  11. After you wrote that your boss said your dress was slinky on twitter. I came back here and looked at it again. I glad you got some things change in the dress code. What I do is bring extra clothes with me to work if I feel like I was breaking the rules.

    I actually Friday got told by on manger that I could wear my zip up and then by another manger that I could. So I know how you feel.

  12. Congrats on getting some of the rules lifted. I think I would be quite paranoid if someone was critiquing my wardrobe daily in terms of "appropriate". I would have given up under such outright scrutiny, so props for sticking with your style.

  13. I really feel dizzy thinking about all of the things you can't wear! I think if you look professional and beautiful go with it! I am so sorry about the lunch fiasco that is just sad but don't doubt yourself you look amazing and completely appropriate!

  14. Melissa, please forgive me, but I am going to sound like a bit of a mom here. If my daughter told me this story, I would tell her to suck it up and wear what she knows the boss wants...either that or quit. I also would counsel her to NOT discuss her job on any form of social media...if she wants to keep the job. Blogs, tweets, and Face Book can come back to bite you...other employees who desire to discredit you will use it as poison. I think you are so great...I would hate to see you without a job (before you are ready) because of a post! My advice...don't ever diss the boss online...ever! Save those fun, creative outfits for after work for now and show us your "out on the town" side!!
    You can also help alot of women under the same type rules learn creative techniques within those rules! You can do it!

  15. It actually kind of blows my mind that your boss spends so much time worrying about what you and your coworkers are wearing. I mean, seriously. I've gotten a few comments here and there, but people have come to realize that I tone down for important meetings and I work hard and well even if my tights are bright orange, so no one says anything anymore.

  16. Wow you sure do rock them Target finds with finesse! Loving that skirt...the abstract floral is such a great take on spring trends...Super subtle, super cute!


    Haute Khuuture Blog

  17. I didn't see anything wrong with your dress. It is crazy that they are trying to control your dress outside of the office on your lunch break. Unless you are a nun I can't think of any other career where you're expected to adhere to dress code outside the work. I'm glad that she was willing to accept some of your suggestions.

  18. I think you look great here. Work dress codes are always a little dicey...sometimes it's hard to be creative, right? Good luck with everything!

  19. Hang in there with your dress code! I know some places are super picky. When I lived at home my Mom used to always ask why I was going to work with a dress or skirt with no tights/panyhose. She always reminded me at her job that was unacceptable.

  20. Its so weird how your boss is inconsistent! I really don't see the big deal about what you wear on your lunch break....that is complete BS! Anyway, you look adorable!

  21. Not that I've ever worked in the corporate world, and not that I really understand that world, but it seems like an awful lot of rules to keep up with for the employees as well as for those who have to enforce the code.
    I wonder, what is the dress code for the men who work there?
    And even if the new more relaxed rules don't last I wouldn't sweat over it too much. You always look cute, so I have no doubt that even with the most extreme restrictions you would continue to look fabulous. :)

  22. I would be stressed out, too, if that was my dress code, but I'm happy to hear you have more freedom as long as you have a sweater to pull on and stuff :)

  23. I'm so sorry you have to go through that each day. I know that it has to be so difficult to find something to wear each day that fits into each of the rules while also staying true to yourself, and on top of that the anxiety of worrying if your boss is going to find it appropriate or not. I hope that with some of the new revisions it gets easier for you...hang in there! I have no doubt whatsoever that you will find fabulous outfits to wear that reflect your beautiful personality!

    I love every single piece you have on today!! That necklace and the skirt are so absolutely perfect for spring! And those shoes..Gorgeous :)

  24. Well, I'm glad it's relaxed a bit but it's still oddly up in the air. Since your boss can still call you out for stuff that technically meets tht new dress code I'd feel a little uncomfortable, too.

    Confusing. But I love your pink today!

  25. True, your situation is a difficult one, but what's also true is that you look STRIKING in this outfit! Work it, girl...whether it's AT work or not! =)

  26. Ok, I think you're going to have to start embedding a poll on your site, where every day, we can vote on whether or not we think the boss approved, and the next day, you can tell us whether or not we're right. And when Target starts to sponsor you, they can offer give-aways to one of the winners :)

    I vote that this outfit passed with flying colors! You look fantastic!

    This Life, Redefined…stop by and say hi!

  27. Holy Pants Mel! That dress is totally professional and you looked amazing in it. That must be really difficult to handle to never feel like you're sure of the reaction your clothes will receive even if they've received prior approval. You'll figure out how to rock your own style within the confines of the code. You've got style and charisma and no one can take that away from you even if you were wearing a sack!

  28. WOW. I thought you looked so professional in your previous, even without the blazer on. I can't believe that your boss wouldn't let you take the jacket off even for lunch. that is ridiculous. Yay for somewhat of a revision to your dress code! It's so unfortunate that the company is making something as fun as picking out an outfit such a stressful ordeal for you, but you've been handling it with such class!

  29. Wow! First, your dress code should be in writing and formally given to everyone as "company policy". Your boss changing the dress code "when" and "if" she see's fit is NOT cool and a big no-no (and get her in a lot of hot water). At my office we have a company policy in writing in the employee handbook. Is there a "no" sleeveless policy? Also, I must say the dress and today's outfit you look fabulous. In the past I have had to address low-cut tops but, it sounds as though your boss is taking it on the extreme side... Wow! I'll have to go back and read more posts and "catch-up" here. By the way, I'm a new follower and I love your blog and your outfits rock!

  30. Oh, and the shoes just add to how much I love this outfit! And the "pop" of color -- sorry, forgot to add these comments above.

  31. i read all of it. your dress code is crazy. but you already knew i thought that. you are amazing for putting up with everything that's gone on lately ... i don't think i'd handle it nearly so well. it sounds like your boss doesn't really care, but that she's more worried about what her superiors might think. which makes me wonder -- does anyone really care? or is everyone just afraid of the elephant in the room? anyway, i'm so happy that you got most of your requests approved. have fun with the new freedom! :)


  32. Must be difficult to work somewhere where you can't express yourself through your clothes. Seems strange that your boss is so obsessed with what you wear. I am sure you will find a happy balance!

  33. That's so strange that she liked a dress one day and the next day it's not appropriate? Did you point out to her that it's the same dress? It seems like there is WAY too much focus on the dress code going on here. How strange!

    I think you look beautiful by the way. I love that colour fushia on you :)

  34. I read it all, so I get a Kudos bar! Kudos to you for your resilience! What if people recognize you in the grocery store wearing shorts and flip flops? Do you have be outside a certain radius of work and obviously not at work? Lunch doesn't count since it's in the middle of the workday? Well, hopefully they see how good a worker you are even with a relaxed dress code. Because what you wear isn't determining how you work. I mean, you're still professional and presentable. It's apples to apples, not dressing up to wearing grubby clothing.

    Again, kudos to you!
    Jen Hemming and Hawing Again

  35. It still baffles me that anything you wear could be deemed this outfit. I know this whole experience has been challenging, but you will persevere!

  36. that was a long post. I agree with you. If you aren't wearing your badge and it is on lunch, it shouldn't matter. Our dress code here isn't strict and people break it and nobody says anything. I'm so glad I don't have to constantly think about if my outfit is acceptable or not.

  37. I'm so sorry for all the dress code headaches! I don't think I've ever seen you post a work outfit that I wouldn't call "professional"! You have my sympathy about the whole thing! (And I think I understand having conflicts about what you want to wear and what you feel like you "ought" to wear...)! Okay, but this outfit is fabulous! I love the shoes and the skirt is great! Super cute and VERY professional! :)

  38. While I understand that many offices have uniforms or strict dress codes, I have to tell you, your boss is just flat-out OBSESSED with this nonsense!!! My God, I hope she puts half as much time into her job as she does in worrying about what the female staff wears each day, LOL.

  39. And, I might add, you always look office appropriate and dress great!

  40. Hi..
    I love the looks great on you..but I do agree with over 50 feeling 40 on many points. I agree about not discussing your job on social media...and I do think the dress has a "night out" kind of vibe. It looks fabulous with jacket.

  41. Wow. I'm outraged by this level of censure. I didn't know that some workplaces could be too conservative! No prints?! No accessories? Why not just mandate a uniform, then? I totally agree, with the blazer, it looks professional. And nobody should care what you wear on your lunch break!

    The last time I felt this oppressed with my clothing choices was in Catholic school where the teachers/nuns would literally hold a measuring tape to see if your skirt hits right below the knees, if your sleeves are rolled down and if you're wearing only black, brown, white and blue ribbons on your hair.

    I do like what you're wearing now.


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