I am a lawyer and I work in the District of Columbia.
Right after law school, I worked for a non-profit. When management attempted to impose a dress code under which jeans could only be worn on Fridays, the staff protested and the policy was rescinded. Upon joining a law firm a couple of years later, I found myself entering a more regulated environment.
I bought two suits before my start date and was surprised when the firm announced, just a few weeks later, that it was adopting a “Business Casual” dress code. The dress code is one of the longest sections of the Employee Handbook – surpassed only by “Family and Medical Leave” (which is really complicated) and “Harassment” (which is only complicated to harrassers).
My male colleagues have synthesized all of the information provided – the general principles, the enumerated prohibitions, and the time and date restrictions – and they wear khakis and plaid shirts (poplin, not flannel) to work every day from Labor Day until Memorial Day. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, they sometimes wear polo shirts, instead of plaid shirts, with their khakis.
I think we can do a little better than that. Certainly, women have more options.* Since I spend the majority of my waking hours at work during the week, I figure that the satisfaction I will get out of being nicely dressed during those hours is worth a little time and effort to sort through the options.
I can be reached at harper *!* thedirectrice *&* com.
I started this blog in part to indulge my pedagogical tendencies and in part to amuse my mother.
Photo credits: First law job, ruzanna/shutterstock; Second law job: Nagel Photography/shutterstock
* I have a friend who grew up with three brothers. He tells me he did not know the difference between a dress and a skirt until he started college. He thought the words were synonyms. Synonyms for what exactly, I don’t know. When I shared this with my husband, he said, “What is the difference? Is a skirt the one that’s a half?”