Office Attire: The end isn’t near, it’s here!

When federal agencies switched to “casual” dress Fridays decades ago, they meant well. Nobody was sure what would happen, but it seemed worth trying. The argument was how bad could it get, right?

Backers predicted it would boost-morale. That it would level the playing field in the office and the agency. Boss and grunt would be the same.

Others warned that for some, dressing themselves is a slippery slope: All downhill with a brick wall at the finish.

Now, we know.


There are still some places in government where peer pressure and dress-for-success-rules prevail: The Secret Service, DEA, FBI. But …

There are also agencies where the incoming crew looks like survivors of a tornado that hit a homeless shelter.

Last week we did our annual, mid-summer fashion review column. It was started by a Kentucky-based fed who said her IRS office looks like the audience at a viewing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie.

Even though August is supposed to be a slow month, we got lots of response. Including:

  • “If you haven’t received emails concerning inappropriate clothing, [it’s] because attire doesn’t matter anymore. Now that the latest generation has arrived — generation X or Y or whatever — rules concerning proper attire are obsolete. My new supervisor, at least 25 years younger than me, comes to the office in tank tops or with her waistline exposed and I’ve met with her supervisor who was dressed in a sweaty T-shirt, shorts and sneakers. This must mean it’s time for me to retire, but I’ve got a few more years to go.” No Name.
  • “I have fond memories of going to the midnight showing of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’

    “As far as fashion tips, we are a pretty well dressed bunch in the this office, and the AC keeps it cool, sometimes to the point of needing a sweater.

    “The only fashion tip that gets to me is the flip-flop. The slap, slap, slap down the hallway. I am not sure when flip-flops became formal dress wear, It is amazing the nice dresses that are accompanied by beach wear. Just because flip-flops have sparkles on them, do not make them dress shoes.” Suffering In Silence.

  • “Flip-flops in the office and the hallways of my agency are my work-day nightmare. It’s bad enough to have to see people’s generally flabby fish-like feet lumber along, but you get the audio warning of their approach as they scuff-slap/scuff-slap/scuff-slap as their wearers come near and while they wander ever-so-slowly away. Flip-flops are for the beach, poolside and when it’s time to wash the boat. They DO NOT have any place in a professional office environment.” Mark in Maryland.
  • “I am close to retirement now and by working in Real Estate and Facilities I see it all in our agency. Our Friday casual day has spread to the entire week! Extra-Large women with tennis shoes, spandex capris and an XX-large T-shirts look like they are planning to mow the yard. Men with cargo shorts, high-top white socks and tennis shoes look like little boys whose momma dressed them for the playground. Others are literally too big for their britches, and sit with their belts and pants un-zipped at their desks. What are these folks thinking. These sightings are not at a call site but at public buildings. They are not even appropriate for Casual Friday let alone a Wednesday!” Speechless In Carolina.


By Michael O’Connell

Pictures of people wearing flip-flop-like sandals appear on Egyptian murals dating back to 4,000 B.C.

Source: International Business Times


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