Work dress codes: the reasonable vs ridiculous.





No pony tails. No jewellery. No make up or nail polish that is not natural looking or in natural tones for women.  And no beards, handlebar mustaches or goatees for men.

They’re the new appearance standards for members of the Victoria Police and, well, they’ve caused a bit of a stir.  Officers have been told to abide by the laws, or risk disciplinary actions.

This from The Herald Sun:

A rebel band of officers say banning beards and ponytails is a breach of their human rights.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission will investigate whether the force’s new appearance standards are discriminatory after receiving complaints from rank and file force members.

The officers against the rules say that they are members of the police force, but they’re also members of the community. And that having to shave off their beards is, well, just too much.

So should employers have a right to tell workers how they can and can’t look?

It begs the questions of whether a person’s appearance affects the way they do their job. Would a female police officer take her job any less seriously is she was wearing red nail polish or a hint of glitter eye shadow? Or would members of the public be less receptive (or more receptive for that matter) towards a male police officer with a handlebar mo?

Meanwhile. in another dress code crackdown, the new boss of Channel 10, James Warburton, has also implemented tighter dress codes for employees. It’ll be ties on for “mid-ranking and senior staff” at the network, replacing a previous culture of open-collared shirts. Mr Warburton has reportedly said the move will show the station is “open for business.”


But what’s appropriate for one industry, can be completely inappropriate for another. If someone walked into the Mamamia office in a tie we’d LAUGH. A lot. But then again, if a lawyer walked into a firm in some of the rather casual clothes we sometimes wear to work, well…

And speaking for lawyers… Have a look at this from a law school in the US. It’s their advice to students on what to wear and what NOT to wear to a job interview. These are not a joke. There were pages and pages of (serious) recommendations sent out to students. Have a look.

  • Patterns are okay. Just keep them very understated. Go for a classic suit. We recommend you purchase a suit, pants and jacket in the same fabric so you can mix and match. Pant suits are fine for interviews. Suit skirts are more traditional.
  • Do not dry clean clothes too often; the chemicals will cause the fabric to deteriorate and lose its luster. While we’re on the subject of cleaning, consider purchasing a steam cleaner.
  • A few rules on blouses: 1) never ever should it be low cut; 2) we mean that; 3) watch out for bows and ties, they usually look messy; 4) no wrinkles and 5) no low cut.
  • You probably need pumps. Preferably not patent leather. No peep-toes, no sling backs. No platforms (even just a little platform). Watch out for a too-high heel. Not only is it going to get uncomfortable, is also is often too exciting for an interview. That being said, shorter people can get away with taller shoes. Consider something less than three inches.
  • We also think that over pointy shoes are a “don’t.” And break in your shoes before interview day.
  • If you’re wearing a skirt, you should wear hose… No patterned hose. No hose with a seam up the back. Opaque tights are not allowed for an interview.
  • Do not wear a white bra under a light coloured shirt. Wear a nude bra or, in a pinch, a dark bra. Consider getting fitted for a bra.
  • You really do need to wear make-up. Keep your makeup understated and neutral.
  • Do not tan the week before. Consider whether you should put your makeup or blouse on first. Stay away from anything shimmery. Be realistic about your skin.
  • Avoid overly smelly lotion. As a general rule, we say no to perfume.
  • Do wear deodorant.

Ummm….. You can find the rest of those recommendations here

Have you ever had to deal with work dress codes?

Join the Conversation