Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Last week I got a text from a friend who recently started working somewhere new. She wrote "Hi Nikky, after a really stressful banking career, i decided to resign and now I'm working in an architectural firm. After the induction, HR tells me there is a dress code. This is really pissing me off. I was hired to do drawings, Why do I need to conform to a dress code?

Many a times, a lot of us start work somewhere and realise there is a spoken or unspoken dress code that everyone conforms too.  The dress code usually lets you know what is acceptable in the office and more about the office culture and norms. I told my friend first things first, ‘your boss pays your salary” fighting this battle is not only pointless but irrelevant because it is a losing battle. I also told her that she was looking at it from the wrong perspective. I love it when an office has a dress code simply because it tells me more about the office and it's boss. For example, a client I was consulting for had such a thing about dressing stylishly that on my second day; I was given a dress allowance and given the day off to shop. You may say wow!! Good for you but honestly this action would have made sense if I wasn’t a fan of snazzy dressing myself and my job involved me being his in house consultant in a back office where I was organising his paperwork and archives and where I had limited communication with colleagues and no contact with his clients. In that instant, I realised for him, image was everything… to the detriment of everything else, including work (after all a day off on day 2 on a paid consultancy job with a deadline???) and other people's opinions or feelings. It also suggested that if it was my opinion versus his, his would win hands down not out of stubbornness but simply because that was his default way of doing things. Alas, ten days later I was proven right but I had taken the right steps in order to save both me and him any embarrassment and a possible confrontation.

For those of us wondering why certain things are normal in our offices such as a dress code or the boss insisting on all work chairs being put at a particular level in the office or deducting salaries when a worker is spotted eating ANYTHING on the office floor, instead of complaining bitterly at the tyranny of it all, why not take some time out today to ask yourself WHY these rules have become normal. Asking yourself questions about what your boss tolerates and doesn’t tolerate will give you better insight into how they operate at work, their expectations, and possible pitfalls you may find yourself in during the course of your career which can only hopefully positively impact your work and hopefully salary . On that note ladies and gentleman Ill tell you what I told her, if the order of the day is three piece suits and black shoes only (heels optional) wear them with style, find a way of expressing yourself through your clothing, and don’t forget, there is a reason why that particular dress code exists, take some time out today to learn why and you could possibly find out you may need to hone in on a particular skill or ability to get ahead.

Also, Look at the dress code as an opportunity to fill your wardrobe with new pieces that will shake you out of your comfort zone and endear you to a whole new set of people which will increase your like-ability and hopefully positively impact both you as a brand and as an employee. Don’t waste you and HR’s time and energy wearing pieces that earn you queries, trips home, and a possible termination of hire as soon as you slip up and do something wrong that could have earned you a lesser punishment. If you have that much of a problem with an outfit, then maybe you should reconsider where you are and set up shop somewhere else.

Have a great evening everybody!!

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