Dress To Impress
My husband teleworks every Tuesday and Thursday, the lucky guy, so I came to work solo this morning. On my walk in, I spotted a guy that I could not believe worked in this building. He wore cargo shorts with Teva sandals, a grey Hershey chocolate t-shirt that was at least one size too small, and a fisherman’s hat complete with lures pinned all around it. His long and curly hair was a total mess, sticking out from underneath his hat at all angles. As I marveled at his decision to come to work dressed like a Person Of Wal-Mart, I got stuck in line behind a man wearing what looked like fancy pajamas from the 70s. I know that the dress code for government employees is somewhat relaxed, but this is just ridiculous.
On a regular basis, I see women in sweatpants or yoga pants, two things that are not allowed to be worn in this building. Ladies flop around in noisy flip-flops, which are also not allowed to be worn to work. Men wear shirts that are too small, exposing their beer bellies. I see people dressed as if they are going to the beach, just crawled out of bed, or are getting ready to participate in a wet t-shirt contest. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how crocs are office appropriate footwear for a government building. My boss is in a suit and tie every day, supervising people who at times will wear baggy Disney t-shirts and stained polos to work. It’s not right.
Obviously the final decision on what is proper for the office is in the hands of the area supervisor, so I have to assume that we either have a lot of relaxed supervisors in this building or just a lot of people who don’t care. If one of my subordinates showed up in see-through white pants or dressed for the gym, I would send them right back home. There are certain standards one should have in an office, regardless of how important your job is. If standards are set low for personal appearance, how high can the standards be for the type of work performed?
I can remember being excited about getting dressed up when I scored my second job at a department store. I took a lot of pride in dressing well, even though I was only making around $6 an hour. I felt that dressing nicely helped customers take me more seriously and showed my supervisors that I wasn’t just some punk kid earning money for the mall. It has helped me in interviews and has helped me get promotions; no one wants to stick someone in a higher position in the company if they can’t even manage to dress themselves in the morning. I wasn’t blowing my paychecks on expensive designer clothes in order to impress anyone though, I shopped smart and dressed well so I could feel and act more professionally.
For the civilians in this building, there is better feeling of job security than in most jobs. Yes, furloughs may be in their future, but for the most part they live without fear of losing their job. This relaxed attitude seems to have leaked over into their personal pride, letting them reduce the amount of effort they put into their appearance without worry. If I wasn’t a little crazy and slightly uptight, I could see myself giving up a bit in the mornings here and there and wearing pajama pants to work because they could almost pass as dress pants. If my supervisor didn’t reprimand me, I could see it becoming a habit, and that is a habit that is hard to break once established.
Work is not a place for a fashion show, and I’m not saying that we should go all out and be fancy every day. But the Hershey fisherman this morning was simply unacceptable. Deciding to come to work dressed like a hobo is disrespectful to your employer and your coworkers. It’s unprofessional for any level of employment in an office, from supervisor to janitor. It makes you look like a walking joke rather than someone who wishes to be taken seriously. It reflects poorly on you and on your work, even if you’re a productive member of the office. It makes you look lazy, careless, and gives the impression that you don’t give a damn.
It’s such an easy fix; go to Marshalls or another discount department store, grab yourself a few pairs of dress pants and some nice shirts, make sure they are interchangeable, and rotate them out each week. Fridays are normally casual, so grab some jeans that aren’t acid washed and don’t have holes in the knees, pair it with a clean t-shirt without giant logos on it, and head on out. Don’t assume that no one telling you something is wrong means that you are right. Don’t become a slob just because your coworkers are slobs. Don’t settle for “good enough” when you know you can do better. I can’t take seeing one more woman with her muffin top spilling out of her sweatpants while I’m trying to do my job. Get it together, people.