Office dress codes?

by L

The end of the office dress code? Totebaggers, your thoughts?

The End of the Office Dress Code

Casual Friday and the ‘End of the Office Dress Code’


[Note:  Great minds think alike!  Louise sent in the same article with this comment:]

… But we can discuss all sorts of dress codes. School uniforms, prom fashions, guest at a party or wedding, bridal fashions, casual wear/athleisure – what’s acceptable, what’s not….


157 thoughts on “Office dress codes?

  1. I don’t really get dress codes. I find it so hard to concentrate when I have to wear uncomfortable clothing, and most “professional wear” is godawful uncomfortabe. Sadly, I have backtracked in that area – my last academic gig was the kind of place where people wore sweaters and jeans. In the software company, everyone dressed like Mark Zuckerberg except for the 20-something girls who did lowlevel office work – they concentrated on showing as much skin as possible. In the health IT place, we had to wear buisiness casual which added to the dreariness of the place. And now I am in a university where everyone dresses up. I found out when we moved offices that we actually do have a dress code. Everyone is supposed to wear business clothes. I never heard of that in academia before – maybe it is a Catholic thing? Anyway, I already was because I was following the norms. And it is one of the big reasons, the other being my hideous noisy exposed office, that keeps me working at home as much as I possibly can. I just can’t think when I am dressed like that.

  2. Ah, yes. Fridays. In my first firm (Dallas) this was the one day of the week women lawyers could wear PANTS. And never to court. Pant SUITs, of course, easily as expensive as the “regular” kind of suit, so really not a help. Maybe slightly more comfortable, since we wore hose the other days back then.

    Amazingly, my current company has gone the other way in the past year, from “just about anything goes” (for my first 13 years there) to suddenly abolishing jeans and running shoes, for the most part. Many of our customers are still pretty dressed up, and our leadership team, now split b/w USA and EU, tends to dress for the customers every day, whether they’re meeting them or not, so they want the entire company to step up its sartorial game. I don’t really care–I am always on the dressier side at work anyway–but it would tick me off if I were a younger person who didn’t want to replace my wardrobe.

    I have actually stepped way up at home, where I am 3 days/week now, and where DH works if he’s not traveling. I used to be a definite work clothes/play clothes kind of person, immediately in sweats or jammies or something similar once I walked in the door at the end of the day, and certainly for days I stayed home. But now I feel I should dress up a bit here, too. DH has always dressed really well, and even on at-home days, he’s in nice clothes, belt, shoes, watch, etc. I feel a little bad sitting in the next chair in my jammies and his old t-shirts, so I’ve been upping my game since I started spending days here. (By “upping my game” I don’t mean much: today it’s nice capri jeans, black belt, nice black t-shirt, earrings, black sandals). I do think it helps me be more productive at home to dress up a little, so I’m glad he set the example.

  3. I’ve never minded dress codes or uniforms (11 years of Catholic school should would desensitize me I guess…). The worst dress code I had was an a consulting firm – they never thought they’d have female scientists. I had to dress like the men – jeans and collared polo-style shirts. Talk about annoying. LLBean made some flattering designs, so I stuck with them. I didn’t mind the outfit during field work, but in the office, I wasn’t even allowed to wear a dress. It sucked in the summer. My current dress code is business casual. Still don’t know what that means – my closet has a range of clothes from things I’d wear on the weekends to suits and I’ve worn it all to work. Since I haven’t been called out on dress code, I figure I’m OK. My question every morning is “If I met some high ranking person, would I feel embarrassed?” If the answer is no, I’m good to go.

    I actually think some businesses should have a dress code or uniform. I hate walking into a department store and not knowing who is an employee because they are dressed like customers. It’s so annoying to find help when you don’t know who to look for.

    I’m also in favor of school uniforms, not because of any grand idea, just that it reduces arguments every day of what to wear (or appropriateness of what people are wearing). Not saying that uniforms can’t be altered, but it gives everyone the same starting block. But again, I’m desensitized. And I missed my uniform when I went to college – I had to make one more decision in the morning.

  4. I think the office dress code has changed and become more relaxed…women can wear pants in professional settings that was unacceptable 25 years ago. However, organizations often are concerned about how their customer-facing employees dress as it is seen as a reflection on the organization. For close to 20 years, the organizations I have worked for allowed you to dress more causally based on (1) where you going to or likely to be seen by people outside the organization performing you job, and (2) what were your tasks for that day any time of year. Several employers have had a summer dress code that allowed more flexiblity – not shorts and tshirts, but more like Friday casual all summer long.

    I read once that what you wear helps keep your mind more on track and improve productivity. Working from home, I find that more true than in the office. I don’t wear “professional” attire at home, but getting out of my pj’s or gym wear does seem to help the productivity.

  5. So timely. New dress code announced his morning. Polos with bank logo are ok instead of business casual. Can wear jeans if not client facing. I look terrible in polos so probably won’t partake. Jeans will likely be a never for our division. Clients could walk in at any moment. I have moved more towards a capsule wardrobe which mostly involves skirts and dresses that all go together. If I bike commute, I wear skinny jeans and change at the office into a skirt. The men in my office complain regularly about how bad their wives at taking care of the dry cleaning timely. These are young guys too.

  6. MM- what are you comfortable in? I have purchased a couple items from athleta and find that they have a nice mix of comfort, form and function in machine washable fabrics. One is a sleeveless dress that pairs fine with a blazer. I also have tried “jardigans” that are basically a beefed up more structured sweater since a blazer can be restrictive in movements. Suits can be awful.

  7. MM, I hear you on not being able to think in that stuff!
    I’d deal with it by finding comfy clothes that fit the requirements, like sweater dresses and tights in the winter, and those yoga dress pants like Beta brand, and dresses like these in the summer: (It’s ponte/knit so more comfy than it might look)
    The far bigger problem for me would be your fishbowl office. When I’m thinking, I curl my legs up under me and/or might slouch. It is not approved business posture!

  8. Someplace, I saw a study that found that if you are dressed in business clothes, there were certain effects – I seem to recall that people felt more focused and communicated better, but I could be wrong. But the study also found – and this is the part I was interested in – that their subjects were not as good at doing math problems when dressed like that, compared to more casual clothes. And that is pretty much the kind of work I do – very intense thinking kind of work -so I prefer more casual clothes when I need to do real work.
    BTW, I would NEVER work in sweats or jammies at home. That is mainly because you will only find me in jammies at home in the later evening. Right now, I have on jeans, a black shirt, and a loose black jacket. And I am barefoot.

  9. “The men in my office complain regularly about how bad their wives at taking care of the dry cleaning timely.”

    Gee, how hard is it? Decide which place that offers pickup and delivery and sign up with them. They’ll drop off a fairly sturdy nylon bag with a cinch tie and tell you they pick up on X day and deliver on Y day. To your home or office. (So gyms offer this service.) Since I wear dress shirt / slacks / tie to work >80% of the time and my kids wore khakis / dress shirt / tie 7th – 12 grade, I have been doing this for years from home. No sympathy from me.

  10. CoC, I’m stuck in moderation, because I put in a couple links with suggestions for MM

  11. Fred, are you suggesting that the guys take care of the dry cleaning chore? Hear hear!

  12. we have a dry cleaning company that will pick up and deliver back from the office

    I haven’t used it since I wear business casual (washable ) clothes

  13. My office is pretty conservative so my typical attire is dress slacks / dress shirt / tie / dress shoes. Summers and very quiet times like between Christmas and New Years can be biz casual, like today: khakis, more casual cotton long sleeve shirt, boat shoes, no tie.

    What I find is if I’m doing errands and still dressed in my standard office get-up I often get better service and more “sirs”. Really.

    (P.S. to my 1054: and my place bills me monthly. So I can just pay one bill thru my bank bill pay.)

  14. I’m probably pushing the casual side of things today – jeans and a linen shirt that is quite wrinkly (but I’m taking the approach that it’s supposed to look wrinkled). I realized I need a pair of light weight summer pants that I can wear to work.

    I have to rewrite an extremely poorly written report today – so I decided to cut myself some slack and err on the side of comfortable clothes since I’m finding work on this report to be extremely frustrating. You can tell people randomly pasted bits and pieces together resulting in an incoherent, rambling report. I can’t even say it’s poorly organized because that would imply some level of organization. It’s like someone threw up random bits and then pasted them together wherever they landed.

    Rant over. Back to this crap report. Sigh.

  15. saac – yeah, well, I’m a teensy step up from Neanderthal. Still pretty traditional in our home in that DW does almost all the cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, household calendar and I do the manly stuff like yardwork, limited, very limited, handyman stuff, IT stuff, dealing with repair / service guys (and they are all guys), bill paying / financial. We could swap on everything but then we’d get back to her saying I don’t do it right for the things she’s currently mainly responsible for / decided she’s most interested in having them done to her spec.

  16. The big problem for me when it comes to office wear (including those cardis, which I wear, but despise), is that I have to wear a structured bra underneat to make those tops fit right. I am pretty underendowed, and at home, just wear a camisole. But those tight business style tops don’t fit right with just a camisole.
    I also don’t like professional shoes. When I am working hard, I prefer to be barefoot, and when I am walking around, I like flat sandals or in winter, boots like these
    These are not boots that would go with fussy little cardigans and skirts.

    Professional shoes for women are miserable, or else look like old lady shoes.

    THe other issue is having to wear makeup. I feel dirty when wearing it, but it is a norm for a professional look so I do it on campus to blend in.

  17. Oh, and I am finally defeating that pesky case of plantar fascitis. What did the trick? Not having to stand for hours in front of a classroom in uncomfortable shoes!!! SInce classes ended, my foot issues have almost disappeared and I am running again.

  18. MM, I think this is your love of “venting” that’s showing through. I completely agree with you re underwires, but I don’t have much of a chest either, and I can wear a nice cami under a cardigan just fine. You are slender all over so it’d look weird if you had a cantilevered shelf sticking out from your chest.

    Fred, when I first read your comment, I thought you were snorting at the women for doing an easy job poorly. Then I realized who wrote it, read it again, and got the meaning you intended.

  19. My office moved to the research building so every guy dresses in hipster scientist:

    The acceptable shoes are boots, brogues, boat shoes or vans.

  20. Make up – In my neck of the woods, the natural look is more the norm unless you are under 30, where it is a bit more focused on eyes and bright lips. I found that if I use my moisturizer and then the Coola brand sunscreen with tint, that is enough to pass as foundation. Some mascara and some lip gloss – fairly neutral – passes. I often skip eyeshadow all together as I have deep set eyes and most of it just intensifies that. Sometimes, a very pale shade under the brow bone.

  21. Our office is business casual, but I tend to wear dressier than normal clothes.

    I agree that comfortable shoes are hard to find. I typically wear low heeled dress boots with skirts in the winter and skirts with dressier sandals in the summer. I’ll wear jeans with a blazer once in a while.

    DH’s uniform is jeans, cowboy boots, a dress shirt. Add a blazer for formal meetings.

  22. Love the hipster scientist look. I wore panty hose the other day for a full business required dress day and It was terrible. I am most distracted these days by the frigid office temps. Even the men are wearing fleece vests.

  23. Mascara is to me the worst part of the makeup. It makes my eyes feel heavy and sticky. But I gotta wear it beause my stupid eyelashes are blonde!!!

    S+M, I hate all bras, not just underwires. They feel like rubberbands on my chest, and in the summer, I get prickly heat rash even when wearing the supposed comfy moisture wicking ones. Who wants to wear boob mittens in the summer?

    I can wear tunic tops with just a camisole, but those tight business tops are cut for people who have some minimal curve there. And many women’s business tops are made out of that stuff I call Kleenex fabric, which isn’t even decent without a lined bra underneath. Just so y’all know, I am officially a 34AA bra size, so you can have an idea of the problem.

    One wonderful thing that has happened in my lifetime: women no longer have to wear pantyhose. Those things were exquisite torture devices. I am so glad women have rebelled on that issue.

  24. MM – sounds like you need looser blouses with a decent fabric and a print (prints camouflage headlights and everything else!), so you can wear a cami underneath. Am I also remembering you hate to shop? You could try the personal shopper at Nordstrom and explain to them the sensitivity issue. Done right, you shouldn’t feel your bra except for a vague support feeling, so that says to me that you might be wearing the wrong size too. :)

  25. MM, idk what kind of tight business top you mean. But if a blouse is transparent, then a cami underneath it is just fine, probably better than a bra.
    If the shoes make the fasciitis worse, then it’s probably worth your time and money to find some that work for you, comfort and style wise.
    Fashion isn’t fun, but if dress codes are cutting into your ability to work, then I think it’s time to find a set of things that you know will work for you and let you get your work done.

  26. Mooshi: I wear dressier t-shirts that are comfortable, but still look professional. Simple round neck or v neck t-shirts in a plain color, either short or long sleeved. They are thicker and more comfortable than typical business tops, and look professional when paired with accessories.

  27. Things I hate about office wear (and so don’t wear): hose and heels. Exception – I have Air Talis (2″) that I will wear for years for choir concerts and networking events, and then a pair of Payless black patent pumps (3″) (the wide is wide enough for my bunions!) for time-limited networking events and work parties. I wear a lot of ballet flats, oxfords, and flat boots to work, and sometimes sandals in the summer if I am feeling lazy. In the winter I wear black tights with my boots and suits.

    I like to wear suits these days – didn’t like them but started wearing them when I left Biglaw. (MM – note that if you buy suits with stretch in them, they are more forgiving and less structured-feeling even though they look structured.) Oddly enough, my office now is more business and less casual than the big firms – the men still wear business casual but it is collared shirts, not polos, and often a blazer or full suit. We also have one old guy who always wears a bow tie. The litigators always wear full suits, except for the older women partners who stepped out of the Chico’s window. I feel, still, like I need to project authority – I am one of the younger attorneys in the office and one of the few women, so I always wear a blazer (not a cardigan) to the office even if not a full suit. The closest I come is an open-front blazer or a moto jacket in a softer fabric.

    Also, I wear makeup, or not, depending on my mood and how many meetings I have – luckily we are in a part of the country where many women don’t wear it so either way is fine.

  28. I know I’ve said it before, but I work in Marketing/Communications. It is extremely casual, but also very trendy depending on the department. So hipster-casual, not sloppy-casual (although we have a few of those for sure). Our CEO wears jeans most days. Those Frye boots that MM posted would fit right in here. Athletic clothing – ok, if you are a low-level back-office person, not so much for middle-management and up or for client-facing groups.

    It would be really hard for me to go back to a true business casual – khakis/black pants type of office. I am really used to dressing this way for work, and I love it. It’s a good mix between being comfortable and still feeling put together.

  29. Also, Mooshi, LMK if you want me to shop for you virtually and I am happy to do it!!! :)

    On work style – I am sort of preppy but with fewer pearls, more edge and tomboy thrown in. I don’t do boho or flowy (a la Eileen Fisher).

  30. I discovered the Vivienne Files recently – lots of advice on capsule wardrobes, with a ton of examples. I love the mathematical simplicity of her 4×4 wardrobes.

    I don’t wear scrubs to work, though I could. My previous job wouldn’t allow it – we were all about customer service, and customers like doctors in ties and dresses and white coats (or so certain administrators believe.) Scrubs are comfortable, but I look terrible in them – they really accent the waist (or lack thereof). While I hid a pregnancy behind scrubs for 16 weeks, I now get asked when I’m due if I’m wearing them. So, long skirts and blouses for me. It has happened that I wear fancy-ish athletic pants to work (like Northface hiking pants). I figure I still look more put together than the people wearing pajamas. People often pair khaki hiking pants with a scrub top and call that the ER mullet – business on the top, party on the bottom.

    MM needs new bras. I might recommend looking at True and Co – they have a survey when you enter their site (do your straps slip off? what brand is the best fitting bra you own? etc.) that creates a list of recommended bras. I was impressed by the selection (some in house brands, some other fancy brands) – each bra was recommended in a specific size for me based on my answers to the survey. You can pick 5 or 6 and they ship them to your house, you keep what you like and use the mailer to return what you don’t. Pretty painless (except that they cost a lot more than the Target bras I was used to). I’ve had three in heavy rotation for a year and love them. If you want to hit the mall, Soma is a new-ish chain that focuses on women who are a step beyond Victoria’s Secret. Functional, well fitted bras.

  31. sweater dresses don’t hang well on me and look very dumpy. My work style is closer to this

    I really like ankle pants. I have never been a fan of business slacks which always seem to be too long and flappy for my taste, so for years I only wore skirts at work. But when ankle pants got popular a few years ago, I bought a bunch and now wear them all the time.

  32. MM, that’s a lovely look. Is that not acceptable business attire at your workplace?

  33. CoC – that link that S-M posted earlier that showed what was acceptable and not at JP Morgan had a great example of hipster business casual. The guy on the left was hipster. Why? It is the details – the lemony yellow pants instead of Baby Boomer khaki, and the little shrunken sleeves on the baby blue polo. The polo has a hipster fit rather than a Dilbert fit.

  34. But your image doesn’t look hipster at all. Those little shrunken jackets with shirttails popping out were popular back around 2004. I thought they had died a well deserved death.

  35. I think hipster casual is business casual worn by hipsters. My brother (in IT) wears a lot of pleated khakis and polo shirts and brown leather sneakers/pseudo dress shoes. He’s business casual. DH wears fancy jeans, collared but interesting shirts (or ironic t-shirts) , locally crafted belt buckles, nice boots. He’s not quite hipster casual, but he aspires.

  36. Oh, I can totally dress like that on campus. My only fear is that the ankle pants might go away and I will be stuck with flappy pants again. Everytime I like a fashion look, it disappears. Also, the ballet flats that go best with the look are increasingly unkind to my sad old feet, but you can’t wear supportive old lady shoes with that look. The academic clog looks silly with that look too. But in any case, I have 6 pairs of those pants in different colors and textures, and last year I just kept rotating them.

  37. Off topic – I was just checking my plane reservations for next week, for a trip to Chicago. I discovered that the seat assignments I had made at booking, for which I paid EXTRA so I could get an aisle seat, had been mysteriously deleted. So I had to call and redo the seat assignment, and I am now stuck in a middle seat for the return. Argh, argh, argh.

  38. I just heard of someone else whose seat assignment disappeared. Bummer! But you should have an email showing proof if you feel like pushing the issue.

  39. “Some women simplify their lives by wearing the same look every day; ordering 15 blouses at once”

    and so do some men. Earlier this year I decided I needed new dress shirts for the office so I ordered 8 of them, exactly the same in a few different basic colors (white, blue, ecru, yellow). Yeah, boring. But I like the fit and they’ll last for a while. I do not number them a la grranimals and wear them in order 1-8 to precisely even the wear, but close counts. I snazz things up a bit with sports / maps / food themed ties.

  40. Mooshi, hahaha! I should’ve known you were just griping and actually already have the situation well in hand. That outfit looks comfy (assuming there a little stretch in the pants) and snappy. Perfect!

  41. The writer’s work wardrobe would not work for a lawyer. But I think we’ve discussed before how some standard women’s work clothing, like the sleeveless sheaths, would not work under various high school dress codes.

  42. Brogues. My dad wore them daily, called them wingtip shoes.

    Now you wear them with no socks and jeans that end above the ankle.

    Or, with fancy socks and a navy blue suit.

  43. “a Buzzfeed writer tries to follow different high school dress codes using her standard work wardrobe”

    — No exposed “gluteus cheeks” (this didn’t apply to me, but LOL).

    I saw a teen/young 20ish girl yesterday wearing shorts so short the butt cheeks were showing, nowhere is that a good look

  44. HM, I don’t think her wardrobe looks like what most professional women wear to work. Her clothing tends to have lots of gathers, flowers, blousing, and be whispy and whimsical. I think the sheath dress you mention is much more typical. But what part of HS dress codes wouldn’t it fit into?

  45. Recently my usual hotel was booked so I ended up staying at a Kimpton and almost all the guests were dressed like that. Also, it seems, the cool kids don’t do roller bags. They have ruffle bags.

    My usual hotel is much more middle management:

  46. Oh, hello old friend! I wonder if CoC has made any recent decisions about actually moderating comments here, and if she might be willing to return to the original admin’s policies. WFI occasionally let that kind of rude bs slip by, and then either emailed or posted an apology once she did delete it. I believe that kept the number of such remarks low, although I don’t really know because she was moderating the conversation. In the past, as you know, CoC has claimed not to know the difference between civil conversation and the comment posted at 1:33 Looks like you are going to help me find out if she has changed her mind.
    Others have said they try not to feed the trolls. If you good people don’t like the kind of comment posted at 1:33, perhaps you could lend a little support to the desire to stop them by contacting CoC directly and asking her to delete them. Cheers!

  47. A ruffle bag would set a guy apart much more than de riguer “unique” socks like everybody else wears.

    Wine, have you heard of a work environment where someone could wear it?

  48. Count me as SO happy for every-day-is-casual-Friday. I am an itchy-tag, sock-seam-straight-and-on-top person, so uncomfortable clothes feel like a straightjacket to me and interfere with my ability to get and stay focused. Coincidentally, I am working at home today — the AM was jammies and robe, and now I have changed into soft shorts and a t-shirt and hoodie (because DH is also working at home and the house is FREEZING). I have learned to step up my game at work a little better, but will be thankful until my dying day that hose have gone the way of the dodo.

    My biggest annoyance is that my body type requires a structured top to look good — I tend to be broader across the shoulders and hips, so a defined waist makes me look like a girl, whereas a comfy sweater makes me look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. That shirt SM posted for MM is a great example of the kind of thing I wear all the time with tailored pants (along with the short jacket and shirt combo CoC posted and MM despised). Which, unfortunately, means that all the really comfy stuff — athletic wear, long flowy skirts, Chico’s-chic — looks like total crap on me. Which brings me back to have I mentioned how happy I am to be working at home today?

    Probably my most embarrassing work incident was close to 10 years ago now, when I was out of maternity clothes but not back to my normal size, and I had almost no clothes that fit — I had I think one nice suit, but every other day I wore jeans and one of a handful of striped oxfords. And then one day I showed up at work having completely forgotten that we had a client meeting in an hour. No time to change, no time to run down to the shops. So, umm, I switched pants with my secretary.

    And yes, I have been suitably mocked, firm-wide, for that event — people have a long memory. Like I said, at least I’ve stepped up my game since then. :-)

  49. “Some women simplify their lives by wearing the same look every day; ordering 15 blouses at once”

    I loved that article, which described my approach to clothing — buying in bulk. Though I’m not dressing for an office at the moment, I try to look put together because I read once that dressing well is an act of charity to others. :) And IME you get better treatment from service providers of all kinds if you look like you’ve just come from an office rather than from cleaning out the barn (with apologies to Cordelia (?) and any other farmers). Business casual and even dressy professional clothing for women is SO much more forgiving and comfortable than our boxy lady lawyer suits with stiff oxford shirts and panty hose back in the day. And it’s easier to find comfortable and professional-looking shoes.

    I loved school uniforms for all of the usual reasons. We also had designated “church clothes” that really helped the boys behave with more gravitas than if they had been wearing jeans and sneakers.

  50. ” So, umm, I switched pants with my secretary. ”

    You have an amazing secretary. Not sure if our admin would do this for me.

  51. laurafrombaltimore, you’ve said very nicely exactly what I was saying – even though the clothing shapes that work for you totally wouldn’t work for me (I am flat chested and have teeny tiny shoulders, so the sweater dress would hang like a feed sack on my body – and with a belt, it would be a belted feed sack, lol).
    I love the story about switching pants. I seem to recall there was an episode of West WIng in which one of the female leads had to do that.
    When I was first working at the software company, we had an important meeting with an important customer at which the CEO would be present. I recall asking my boss what I should wear, figuring that my usual shirt n’ jeans wouldn’t cut it. Nope, my boss said, wear your normal clothes. The CEO evidently liked his developers to “look like software developers”. And so there we sat at the meeting, all Mark Zuckerberged out.

  52. Though I did meet the president of a major university wearing basically pajamas (fleece yoga pants and a band shirt). My 20 hour field/lab day was scheduled the same day as his visit. I tried to hide from him, but my advisor *insisted* on finding me and calling me out. I tried to blind him with my dazzling intellect, but I suspect he remembered the band shirt instead.

  53. Here my workplace has all sorts of casual wear. From the hipsters like the pictures posted – skinny suits/fancy socks, women in dresses and skirts/tops with heels, to others in crop pants/tops and still others in what can be described as resort wear. A few women have taken to wearing maxi dresses with small cardigans in the summer, super comfortable.
    There are lawyers who wear lighter suits and colorful ties or bow ties and a few people look like Vineyard Vine ads or Southern preppy.
    I own white or tan pants for the summer with colorful tops.
    I wore uniform all through school and so do my kids.

  54. @Rhode — yeah. My admin is *awesome* (not only did she swap, she is actually the one who offered). The day she retires, so do I. :-)

    I also had a similar bad day when a foreign client (from a highly-formal country) unexpectedly showed at our offices when I was in jeans — not at all unusual for our office, but not how I wanted to meet this guy. But at least then I was able to shut my door, and no one called me out.

    But the real question about your incident: was it at least a cool band shirt? ;-)

  55. Depends on what you consider cool – it could have been the Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, or Poison… I honestly don’t remember. It may have been Monty Python. I think I was happy it wasn’t a true field shirt with mud stains and a wonderful smell regardless of how many times it was washed..

  56. LfB – wow! I once *forgot my pants* at a performance of our law school musical, and had to borrow someone else’s – but not at work! :)

    Rhett – we don’t have any hipsters at my work, unfortunately. I like the cool socks. If I had to switch to a different environment, it would be nice to have a trendy one like Ivy’s.

  57. Here the women wear summer sandals for work as well as running errands. I haven’t seen the athletic type sandals much here though. I used to like those but no one really wears them here.

  58. My husband has worn “cool socks” for years, but I would not describe him as a hipster. He has socks with pix of Benjamin Franklin, salmon, hamburgers, and octopi in his collection

  59. I wear ballet flats all the time. I’ve seen complaints like MMs that they don’t offer arch support, but apparently I don’t need arch support and I don’t know if that’s because I grew up running around barefoot, or if I just haven’t reached the age where I need supportive footwear.

  60. None in my family can get away with the hipster look because we are the wrong body type for that look. Pipsters, they would call us.

  61. @HM — depends on your arch. I have ridiculously high arches (put me on one of those foot machines and you see a blob for the heel and a blob for the ball of the foot and nothing in-between), so I have to put inserts in almost all my shoes, even those with good arch supports, and can’t wear ballet flats at all. OTOH, I suspect people with flat arches do just fine in those kinds of shoes.

  62. LfB, I do have high arches, similar to what you describe, so that’s not it.

  63. I used to wear ballet flats all the time, can’t wear them anymore without foot pain

  64. Rhett – no. Not sure of the brand.

    I have super high arches and can wear almost any shoe without issue. Ballet flats don’t bother me at all.

  65. Anon – didn’t know it was an actual word.
    I was thinking a pear shaped hipster is a pipster.
    I go around town in Sperry boat shoes, super comfortable.

  66. For years I lived in ballet flats, but when I saw the orthopedist for the plantar fascitis, she told me they are a no no if you have any foot pain because of lack of support. I definitely blame teaching for 3 hours straight while wearing them, all semester, for causing my problems. Some of those days, I could barely hobble back to my office.

  67. One of my favorite scenes in Billions is when Damien Lewis dumps his super expensive suit in a trash can for his very expensive hipster clothes because he doesn’t think he can make an effective pitch to a client in a suit. It was TV, but it sums up the feelings about being able to work in clothes that make you comfortable vs. the industry norm.

    I always love the feeling of walking on Park Ave on a summer Friday morning because the clothes are different, and everyone seems to be happier. It is just a lighter feeling as everyone walks into the office building vs. the rest of the year.

  68. Hey Anon…calm yourself. If you don’t like the show, change the channel.

  69. Ada, then he has both. He has some that look remarkably like your example of hipster. He has one pair that are black with big purple dots, for example, and another pair with various stripes.

  70. “I saw a teen/young 20ish girl yesterday wearing shorts so short the butt cheeks were showing, nowhere is that a good look.”

    In Miami it is. It’s called formal wear.

  71. It’s cocktail hour on the east coast, so I’m going OT. I just finished reading a new book, Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family.

    I know that many of the regulars won’t need this book because many of us have shared similar stories over the years. I am going to give this book to a couple of my younger cousins because I think she has some great advice that is easy to understand about why to save, making financial mistakes, how/when to negotiate. I was very lucky that one of my managers forced me to sign up for a 401K that had a match from my employer. I almost didn’t sign up for the full amount even though he was yelling about free money. I didn’t think I could afford it, but he reminded me about the time value of money from finance 101.

  72. ‘Saac, welcome back. I hope you stay back.

    A while back, the readership here got into a bit of a tizzy (much like the aggravating mass name changes) insisting that this blog become more “edgy” and controversial. You know the argument, we were too deferential, afraid to offend, mommy-centered, not saying what we really think, etc.

    In my view, then as now, I don’t think that is what we are usually as a group. But, oh, we wanted edgy. I think we tried for a couple of days, and a couple of our comments have become more pointed, but we basically reverted.

    So I think CofC is off the hook, here. She’s doing what we told her to do.

  73. I traveled last weekend and couldn’t believe the number of women in short-shorts. All I could think of was that they had no concept of “bus pants” (Big Bang Theory). I can’t stand public transportation on my skin.

    My office is All over the map in terms of dress. Director level men are always in a blazer or suit jacket but no tie. VPs in my area are frequently in jeans. Some men wear jean shorts or cargo shorts in the summer, which just looks silly on the 40 and older men. Women are equally varied, but cardigans are more common than suit jackets, I think because of the unpredictable temperatures.

  74. I don’t know why the airlines even care what passengers wear, as long as they’re not liable to be arrested for indecent exposure at the destination airport.

    CoC is already putting in her own time to keep this site up and running and posting new content on a regular basis. I wouldn’t expect her to *also* be spending her time moderating the conversation. This place is like a potluck: the food is contributed by the participants, CoC is the one who arranged for the location, got there early to set everything up and provided tablecovers and the paper plates and napkins and cups and cutlery, but we wouldn’t expect her to hover around the table making sure no one takes too much too early or licks a serving spoon or commits other party fouls.

  75. MM I just got a pair of navy ankle pants at J Crew outlet store near me and they are my favorite pair of pants I’ve ever owned. I plan to go back this weekend and buy another pair to replace these when I’ve worn them out.

  76. Saac – welcome back, don’t mind the trolls.

    I haven’t seen shorter shorts on people other than teen girls who can pull it off. The older women are appropriately dressed for their age. I think as Scarlett mentioned people here have the concept of church clothes, so their “nice clothes” tend to be something that is not too revealing.

  77. Ah, but what constitutes shorter shorts?

    Shorts length considered short when I was a teen:

    Shorts length I typically wore as a teen:

    Length of my shortest shorts now:

    My more typical shorts length now:

    Typical length for my daughter (not for school though, fails fingertip rule, she usually needs basketball shorts for school):

  78. Like my predecessor, I do not actively moderate comments. It’s unrealistic because of the time it would involve. I try to administer this site according to the preferences of the majority, and am always open to suggestions and comments. Requiring emails or registration for commenting could help in keeping out trolls.

    S+M, I’m glad you’re back. I’m glad you’re feeling open to socializing with us. You have friends here who welcome and appreciate your perspective. Trolls obviously have no right to put limits on who comments how much, so I hope you’ll ignore them.

    In the past, as you know, CoC has claimed not to know the difference between civil conversation and the comment posted at 1:33

    I don’t remember making that claim, but I wonder why you would doubt whatever I asserted. Email me if you’d like to discuss further.

  79. I recently bought a pair of Midtown ankle pants from Athleta. Love them, especially for traveling. They hit me a bit longer because I’m short, which is what I prefer. I can wear them for play or for dress, they don’t wrinkle, they pack up tiny, and can be easily washed in a hotel sink. They do have dangling tie straps that are a bit problematic, but I just tuck them in. I’ve become more minimalist in my wardrobe, especially for traveling. I could easily travel for a week with just those pants and a few tops.

    The Althleta Midtown trouser is another great pair of pants, and they can be rolled up to capri length so they’re even more flexible. But my size is on back order so I won’t get them until September!

  80. “They hit me a bit longer because I’m short, which is what I prefer.”

    I prefer my pants to be longer; I don’t prefer being short! Made me think of this:

  81. On topic – I have taken to wearing dresses in the late spring summer and early fall when I leave the house. I feel pretty, get compliments. A spanx slip is sufficient under those of the dresses that are not lined. I still have chico’s travelers pants outfits that work well, as expected, for travel, but in the winter I now rely on three pairs of slim jeans in different colors that go under tops and sweaters. I have a selection of comfortable flats – Clark’s sells narrow and wide widths with cushioning and some with removable insole so that you can use your own orthotic – Mooshi might consider the narrow.

  82. Off topic – I replaced my hot water heater yesterday. One of the energy efficiency acts has ended the manufacture of old style water heaters effective April 2015. (The law is federal, so it doesn’t affect what you actually do in your own home – local building codes govern, but the range of available products have changed.) If you use electricity rather than gas, unless you can source an older model (not easy after a year of the law on the books) you may have a real problem in replacing a water heater that is in a utility room, closet or other tight space. If your water heater is in a larger unfinished area of the basement or garage in mild climates, no problem. For heavy usage or a spa bathroom, residential electric water heaters with greater than 55 gal capacity now have to incorporate a heat pump feature, which requires a lot of space around the unit. My friend recommended her plumber who solved our problem – a lifetime guarantee stainless steel lined 80 gal commercial water heater. It is tall, but not wide, and fit in our utility room. No longer will I have to cross my fingers once the warranty expires on the traditional glass lined model. If you have high water needs, it is of course possible to have more than one water heater.

  83. CoC, I can’t recall the date or topic of that conversation a couple of years ago; but several people said they hoped ignoring the troll would make him/her go away. I asked, on the board, if you could please moderate the comments–and yes, WFI did do so, and she may have been cutting out crap you didn’t even know about–and you said you wouldn’t know which ones.
    It’s becoming clear that most people here don’t mind the troll (although I have gotten emails from people wanting to chat when the troll’s been active & I haven’t been around)

  84. saacnmama – I think of anonymous posters who make snide comments as similar to unwelcome wolf whistlers as I walked down the street (back in the day). In general the sounds were background noise. Sometimes a comment or tone made them seem more personalized, but I still asserted my right to walk down the street. In my case (not true for all objectified individuals) it never became so unbearable or threatening that I changed my route. Given that it is the consensus that we don’t want registration and use of identified handles, mostly to encourage new entrants and long time lurkers to post, it is probably not possible to eliminate the ability to post anonymously. This individual wants you to stay away. Do you want to grant him/her that power?

  85. CoC,
    You are not helping my resolution to avoid internet shopping. Those Athleta Midtown pants are so tempting. But wondering what shoes you wear with them? And are they basically warm-weather pants?

  86. Scarlett, I would say the Althleta pants are three season, and in coldest weather I would probably wear them with leggings or knee socks. (Now finding comfortable leggings that don’t dig in at the waist is another challenge. I found some at Walgreens.)

    Maybe L or someone else could suggest shoes. My go-to shoes for most pants and skirts are these comfortable Naturalizer oxfords, which look like the brogues mentioned upthread.

  87. For more casual look, of course sandals, Converse,or similar work fine. I don’t wear high heels except in rare cases. Actually, the highest I go is about 2″. #verybadfeet

  88. My feet are prone to shoe bites and blisters. That is why certain shoes just don’t work. Unfortunately there is no way to know, till I wear the shoes. I have found shoes from Cole Haan to be very comfortable and also Sperry for casual wear. If I do buy the wrong kind of shoe, since I don’t do much standing or walking at work my shoe mistakes can be seen dangling from my feet under my desk.

  89. HM June 3, 4:55 +1

    I didn’t have a chance to check the posts since Friday, but I completely agree with HM. I think it is unfair to expect anyone to moderate this site all day. This isn’t the WSJ, and CoC is a volunteer that agreed to take this on so that we could continue to “speak” to each other.

    I dislike anonymous posts, but I don’t think the posts should be deleted. I hope that people will eventually have the guts to discuss their thoughts in a fair and rational manner, but I wouldn’t completely dismiss what some of the anon and regular posters are trying to say about tone and content.

  90. I dislike anonymous posts

    All the posts are anonymous. Yes, we all have handles, but everyone goes through great pains here to keep their real identities secret. And people might not be who they claim to be: I claim to be a former IT worker who is now a nurse practitioner who lives in Denver, is married, with two kids. That could all be completely made up. Heck, I could be posting as three different people and nobody would know.

  91. CoC – I’m happy to! What do you mean by “most pants and skirts”? Like for work? Dressy or not? Winter or summer? What level of formality are we talking about here? Do you need wide or narrow widths? :)

  92. Speaking of shoes, I bought the most awesome sandals a month ago. They weren’t even too expensive. I first saw them at REI but they didn’t have the color I wanted in my size so I ordered from Zappos. These are so soft on my feet. I did a lot of walking on hard surfaces last weekend when we visited Boston, and had no foot pain when I wore these, even though they don’t have the traditional heavy arch support. Only downside – they are not “business” looking at all! But they are totally to my personal taste.

  93. “everyone goes through great pains here to keep their real identities secret”

    With the exception of a few who have blown this and possibly have some regrets about it. There have been some things I’d love to share about my kids that would be of value to some folks here I think, but now feel I can’t, b/c their IDs are blown by extrapolation. Also, I had/have a significant career decision I’d love to talk through with people, along with an update about Career B that I believe will interest and surprise people*, but wonder about the wisdom of all of that now. Oh well. I made the bed …

    Or, I could always change my name again here and see how long it takes PTM to blow his stack. ;)

    I wouldn’t dream of having CofC moderate comments here. I can’t believe she’s willing to do as much as she already does to keep our conversations going and really, we should be thanking her more than we do. THANK YOU, CofC!

    *not a big, exciting announcement, but more along the lines of man, things can be rough in that particular sector, and it’s enough to make a person wish her lifelong dream had been something different. I feel uncomfortable that the last word you all heard from me on the subject was Rah Rah Rah when that hasn’t been the complete story, especially in the past year. It makes me feel disingenuous not to share the Blah Blah Blah parts as well, but I can’t think of a way to do that now.

  94. L — I’m interested in what you’d suggest to wear with ankle pants in a business or other non-casual environment. Scarlett may have something else in mind. I can’t ask for suggestions specifically for me because my feet are truly difficult. Like Louise, I never know if a shoe will be comfortable until I’ve worn it out and about.

    I never heard the term “shoe bite” before, but it may be my new favorite that I will use. Most shoes bite me, one way or the other. lol! Also, I can’t go barefoot because of my foot problems. I’m really a difficult case.

  95. Thanks, Risley! I feel the same way, wishing I could share more but knowing it would be unwise. I think there are only three or four of us here that are not anon.

  96. CoC,
    Thanks for all you do! And I would love to see the non-casual shoe suggestions for ankle pants too. DH cannot understand why I have, oh, maybe five times the number of shoes he has, but this is the reason. If his closet included boot cut, straight leg, ankle, and capri pants (not to mention dresses of various lengths and formality), he would get it.

  97. With ankle pants, I like to wear ballet flats or oxfords – NOT heeled oxfords, flat ones. (Note – I have a pair that is a men’s oxford and a pair from TOMS, of all places) Or about a 2″ wedge can work too – I don’t think the ankle pants look as good with a higher heel, or anything too fussy or with too much detail. Also in the winter, I wear flat short boots (they come up just inside the hem) that are plain. Sandals are not really dressy IMO, so I don’t wear them to work other than for commuting.

    I usually need a wide, but I have had luck with stretching shoes with rubbing alcohol or vodka and then blasting them with a hairdryer. If you find a brand that uses softer leather (Cole Haan ballet flats are like this), they stretch out pretty well.

  98. I wear d’orsay flats with ankle pants when I want to be a little dressier. They are much more flattering on my foot/leg than ballet flats.

  99. I wear nice flats with ankle pants, although in the fashion magazines I see them paired with heels, so that could work too. I would not wear them with anything “chunky”.

  100. Kate – I really like the look of the d’orsay ones, but can’t find them to fit my foot – my forefoot is too wide and the heel always falls out.

  101. Having said “never with chunky”, I realized that I wear ankle pants with short boots all the time, kind of like this image (but withou the very high heel, and no, I don’t pose like that)

  102. Shoe bites – in the home country I got these all the time. There was no standard shoe sizing, so you could never just go to a store and pick your size. You had to try your shoes on.
    If you were a half size they didn’t have those either. In my teen years, while experimenting with shoes of various kinds – I became a walking commercial for J&J’s Band Aids. My Mom could never understand how I could hardly ever find the right shoes there. Now, I know my size and can pick brands that work for me.

  103. Oh, hey, I recently got those sandals too! The yoga sling ones. They are super comfortable because they’re cloth, not leather, but somehow my foot doesn’t stay centered on the sole. When I walk along the balls of my feet are on the sole but my heels are off on the sidewalk.

  104. MM & RMS – I have those sandals too. I love them because they are so comfy, but they are hard to put on one-handed while running out the door with bags. That is my only complaint.

    I wear flats or wedges with ankle pants. I like these wedges that are not quite as chunky as some because of the way that the wedge is angled in. I also wear wedge espadrilles with them in the summer.

  105. Ivy, can you walk in those without hose? I’m getting blisters just looking at them.

  106. Are sleeveless dresses appropriate for work? I’m not talking about when you wear a sleeveless dress with a jacket or cardigan – but a sleeveless dress on its own? I bought a sleeveless dress yesterday to wear to work – but then had second thoughts this morning on whether it’s appropriate.

  107. L – I have a couple d’orsays from Cole Haan and one from J Crew. The only problem I have had is that the point gets a little beat up.

  108. @RMs – Yes, they are surprisingly comfortable, but Cole Haan shoes tend to fit my feet really well. I don’t have blister issues with those.

  109. @ SSM – if you’re having 2nd thoughts, then it’s probably not perfect for your work environment.

    I actually have a question for you – I need to get all of us lightweight rain jackets for our Alaska trip this summer. I understand there’s a high likelihood of very Seattle-like weather some days – constant drizzle w/o actual downpour. Do you have any recommendations? Needs to be something easy to stuff in a backpack and put on/off as needed. Comfortable for hiking in.

  110. Actual OT request: DD needs a uniform for her band trip, which includes navy blue dress pants — basically, the kind of pants that I wear to work all the time. Except she’s 15, and NONE of the styles they make for 15-yr-olds meet the criteria, and none of the women’s dress pants look remotely cut for a 15-yr-old. Not to mention that it’s summer and we found all of ONE pair at Kohl’s (not one style — one pair anywhere close to her size), and it fit but looked horrible.

    So: L and others who enjoy this kind of thing: any suggests for websites that would offer both (a) “nice” navy pants that are cut more modern/more for the younger crowd, and (b) liberal return policies, because I’m going to have to order like 12 versions in the hope of finding one that works? She is curvy, so she needs a cut with room in the hips that then nips in at the waist, but she likes the more modern slimmer-cut lower leg you see in the non-mom-pants versions (she thinks a standard boot cut is practically bell-bottoms and just SO old).

  111. LfB, speaking as one with a big waist-to-hip differential, don’t forget about buying pants that fit in the hips and them having them tailored. Can be much easier than trying to find ones off-the-rack that actually fit. Yes, it’s annoying to spend money to tailor inexpensive pants, but there you are.

  112. @L — I think ankle would work. I think those Limited ones are the kind of thing she’d like (or at least tolerate). Thanks.

    This really is driving me nuts, though. They are dressing the kids up in outfits that fit the grown-up perception of “professional” — dress pants, silk shells, blazers, etc. But these are KIDS. So none of the adult clothes fit, and none of the kids’ clothes are anywhere near the right style. It feels like a snipe hunt. Why couldn’t they just have said wear khakis and a white button-down or polo or something? UGH.

  113. LFB – J Crew outlet? Would be a more affordable (Kohls-level) option – they have a few different navy styles in different fabrics. Always a coupon code.

    Also Express which is aimed at young 20-somethings, so their work clothes are for younger bodies. I haven’t shopped there in probably a decade (see: their target demographic), but they probably have coupon codes too & lots of stores to return to.

    Urban Outfitters has one pair of sort of traditional looking ones.

  114. Lark – I don’t remember how old your kids are, but my favorite raincoats for kids are Hatley’s. For the whole family, I would suggest looking at Sierra Trading Post. They sell second and last season outdoor gear, at a significant discount. They feature all of the big brands, so you are likely to get a high-quality product at price you might pay for a low-quality coat elsewhere. I recently got a mountain hard wear coat, and while it wasn’t inexpensive, it was much less than I would’ve paid at an outdoor retailer and I expect it to last years. They also send significant discounts out if you sign up for their email offers.

  115. LfB – J Crew is more straight up and down fitting and less curvy. If ankle will work try Banana, Express, and the Limited – they should have some options that may even be machine washable. The “Chelsea” Boden pants are nicer-looking and lined, and the pair I have is too curvy for me so may work for her.

  116. @ L & Ada, thanks. I’m looking for something super lightweight to keep drizzle off (as opposed to the kind of rain we’re getting today, Hello TS Colin! We all have heavy rainjackets already for that kind of rain). I will look at both of those places.

  117. On the subject of rain – I need new rain boots. I have Lands End ones, and I hate them – have them on right now and I find them irritating. They are so stiff and heavy that it’s hard to drive in them (hard to operate the pedals). Does anyone have good rain boots that aren’t as heavy/inflexible?

  118. Risley, you could concoct a second identity for more anonymity while also maintaining your current ID for stuff not requiring anonymity.

  119. Shoe bites – is that from pinching shoes. My problems are the opposite – I wear AA shoes, which are usually impossible to find. So my feet are always, always sliding. The worst is dress pumps – my feet slide down the slope, especially in hose which make my feet even more slippery. And without a t-strap or something like that, the pumps usually fall off my feet with every step. Ouch, the blisters!

  120. ssm – the sleeveless sheath dress is part of the summer WASP uniform in New England. Or a sleeveless shell with a modest neckline and slim skirt. Most offices here get cold with the a/c, so women usually need an office cardigan at the desk anyway. However, I agree with the idea that if you have questions, it is probably showing too much skin or the cut is too flouncy or youthful for a professional appearance. A tiny bit of cap sleeve was my summer solution, since the traditional sheath did not suit my figure.

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