Workplace Propriety According to Westword
“Hi, hon-,” Christopher interrupted his normal post-work greeting to me and, instead, looked me up and down in much the same manner Carrie’s classmates did her after the unfortunate pig’s blood incident.
“Is that what you wore to work today?” he finally asked/snarked?
“What?” I scratched an itch through a hole the good people at Diesel had pre-placed in the upper thigh of my jeans. “It’s Friday.”
After a long and, I think, judgmental pause, Christopher said, “Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Please pour me some Diet Coke.”
Christopher makes a mean Thai curry chicken on Fridays, or I would’ve challenged his insulting tone of voice and disapproving eye.
My jeans are great. I love my ripped jeans. And every time I wear the t-shirt with Andy Warhol’s hot-pink Marilyn Monroe emblazoned across the front, I get scores of compliments from men and women, alike. I’m gonna say it, people: I looked cute. Nay! I looked super-cute.
Here’s the thing about “business causal attire:” nobody knows exactly what “business casual” means. Monster.com says that “business-casual clothing was meant to provide an opportunity to work in a more relaxed, yet still professional, type of clothing.”
But what if you work for the independent publication in town? Ya’ know? Who wants to read independent news reported by some uptight, overdressed douche? On the other hand, who wants to purchase advertising from a grease ball, wearing last night’s pajama bottoms and flip flops? Then again, if you purchase your advertising exclusively over the phone, your sales rep. could be wearing a tuxedo and you wouldn’t know, so who cares what he or she has donned for the day?
It’s a slippery slope, my friend. So as a courtesy to people trying to determine what “business casual” means, I’ve compiled a few rules for what’s “workplace appropriate” according to various business oriented websites. As it turns out, Westword tends to ignore, if not obliterate, those “rules.” It’s probably best to do as we say – not as we do.
In our defense, however, youngmoney.com does site “a denim shirt” as being an appropriate piece of a gentleman’s business casual attire.
Let me be very clear, youngmoney.com: Unless you are a mechanic, a rodeo clown or a sixty year old woman working in her garden, denim shirts are, in fact, never acceptable.
The mystery of “business casual attire” may never, fully be solved. Here is my advice: when in doubt, treat the work day as a date night. It’s better to be over dressed, than under dressed. Also, for at least the first week, leave a little something to the imagination and don’t have sex. (Unless you think you can get a nice sexual harassment settlement out of the situation. Then, by all means, whore it up.)
Most importantly, remember that it’s probably best not to look to Westword as a standard of workplace propriety.
Deanna – Retail Sales Rep.
About.com says: “Dress and skirt length should be at a length at which you can sit comfortably in public. Short, tight skirts that ride halfway up the thigh are inappropriate for work. Mini-skirts… are inappropriate for the office.”
Matt – Classified Sales Rep.
About.com says: “Hats are not appropriate in the office.”
Tracy – Associate Publilsher
Monster.com says: “Accessories such as discreet jewelry are permitted… wear a single, delicate bracelet and keep earrings no larger than nickel-sized.”
Krista – Art/ Production
Geeketiquette.com says: “Hair should be kept clean and neat. Brightly dyed hair (green, etc) … aren’t appropriate.”
Crow – Ediorial Intern
About.com says: “Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, exercise sessions, and sports contests may not be appropriate for a professional appearance at work.”
Mandy – Sales Manager
Several experts advise employees to avoid bright colors and loud patterns. Wisegeek.com says: "Patterns and prints for business casual attire should be subdued if they are worn at all; subtle stripes are acceptable, while vibrant tropical patterns are not."
- Steven J. Burge