The Dress Code
In an extremely tight blue, button-down blouse that once fit her properly a size or
two and some fifteen or twenty pounds ago, she stood down front in the stuffy
meeting room with those so noticeably stretched gaps between all of her buttons to
remind all sitting before her of the company's dress code.
The few people who were still paying attention that late Friday afternoon rolled or
widely opened their eyes to one another as they looked around to watch the worst
dress code offenders in twilight sleep and day dream, oblivious to what was being
said. In unison their roaming, rolling, widely opened eyes seemed to cry out,
Nooooo, not this dreaded, worn out subject again!
"People, use good judgement. If you look in the mirror and what you're wearing
doesn't look professional, don't wear it. It's that simple," she told them in the
Otto, January's Employee of the Month, scribbled down a note for his buddy next
to him to read: Lets buy her a mirror. Surely, she has none!
Otto's buddy, February and last June's Employee of the Month, Frank, covered
his mouth with his hand to hide his smile and in reply penned, Watch out! One or
more of her stressed buttons will pop and hit you in the eye.
Otto, too, had already covered his mouth with his hand to keep from laughing and
wrote to Frank in reply, Imagine that workman's comp claim!
Trying to keep from laughing aloud, they stopped looking at one another but
didn't look back either at the speaker. They were around long enough to know
what she would say next.
"I can't believe I have to say this," their department head said in her stretched
blouse with her eyes closed so dramatically for emphasis.
"Oh, no!" one of the day dreamers woke to panic to interrupt and say. "We're
getting laid off aren't we?"
"No, you're not getting laid off. Profits are at an all time best," the department
head said as she exhaled and then tried to act as though she didn't just pop a
button that the room's awake and alert heard hit the tile floor.
"We're talking about the company's dress code," she reminded those who needed
reminded. With a serious, stoic face and now a paper held up in front of her to try
to cover the front of her blouse, she continued.
"What I can't believe is that I have to say is this. I am embarrassed to say this,"
Frank and Otto looked at one another smiling. Yes, they certainly just knew what
"You all are to wear underwear to work each and every day...Everyone must wear
underwear. It is company policy to wear underwear," she said and stopped her
train of thought when scattered laughter interrupted her.
Now to be perfectly fair, the department head, whose blue bra was now very visibly
showing where her third button down used to be, was within reason to bring up the
subject of underwear.
Everyone awake glanced over at one woman sitting way down front. That that
young woman down front did not wear panties was no longer a secret since last
summer when she walked outside into the bright sunlight wearing a thin, light
colored cotton dress with nothing underneath.
After last year's formal announcement of the dress code, several employees the
following week were sent home or to shop aimlessly at the nearby Wal-Mart for
white underwear without designs and change into them when the department head
told them their lace or designs or darker colored underwear was showing through
their slacks or skirts.
After last year's formal dress code announcement, the department head stopped
on her own way out of the building one early morning to tell a few people that she
was sending herself home to change into underwear without holes in them.
"So we have to wear underwear even on hot summer days?" the confused, young
woman sans panties way down front raised her hand to ask.
Yes, replied the department head and ten other women in the room in
simultaneous loud chorus.
When one elderly female staff stood to leave the meeting, the department head
asked why she was leaving early. The meeting was not over, after all.
"I have a dental appointment and approved paid time off... and besides, I'm
wearing underwear... Um, I'm wearing Jimmy's underwear," she said referring to a
co-worker sitting next to her. "But I am wearing underwear nonetheless."
A red faced Jimmy, Otto, Frank and some others could not contain themselves
"OK, lets continue," the department head said once the laughter died down.
The rest of the company dress code that the department head read aloud was new.
Otto, Frank and the others sat up attentively hearing the added goodies for the
"Men are not allowed to wear earrings of any kind in either or both ears," the
department head said. "Earrings on males are to be removed immediately and not
"Men must wear neckties," she said as a second strained button on her blouse
popped to the floor. That added requirement for men drew boos and visibly upset
each male there except for Andrew who always wore ties anyway. Andrew thought
it was a good idea.
"Men must wear socks at all time," she said as her thong imprint line became
clearly visible through her light blue slacks as she bent over to pick up the second
popped blouse button from the floor.
"Women's upper arms are not to be bare. Cap sleeves or short sleeves are allowed,
but not sleeveless tops," the department head said. Many smiled at the department
head and shook their heads in agreement on this one. They were tired of seeing her
armpits with five o'clock shadow and caked white horizontal deodorant lines when
she raised her sleeveless arms in meetings and sometimes maintained that pose till
she was done talking when seated leaned up against a wall or chair back.
"All visible tattoos are to be covered. There are no nose or tongue stud piercings
allowed. Women, of course, can continue to wear earrings in their ears, but not
more than five per ear," she said.
"Note, there is no mention of naval piercings because you aren't to show navels
"Women are to wear hose with skorts or dress shorts that come to the knee or no
shorter than two inches above the knee. Women are permitted not to wear hose
with dresses, skirts or capri pants. Women's toenails must be cut and polished if
visible in sandals or open toe shoes," the department head read.
"Men's hair cannot be longer than collar length," she continued to read verbatim
from the new policy. "Men are not to have hair longer than to the top of their
shirt collars in back. Men are not allowed pony tails."
Otto raised his hand. He had a question.
"Please correct me if I'm wrong. I have to wear a tie, socks and, of course,
underwear each day. Women do not have to wear socks but can wear sandals as
long as their toenails are trimmed and polished. Women can wear a skirt ten
inches above their knees with no hose, but must wear hose if their dress shorts or
skorts are to the knee or two inches above it. Women can wear 10 earrings but I
cannot wear one?" Otto asked.
"Yes, that is all correct, Otto," the department head answered, clearly wanting to
move along. Frank raised his hand. He, too, had a question.
"So I have to wear socks even with enclosed front and enclosed back sandals, but
you and other females can wear the same unisex sandal without socks?" he asked.
"Yes, that is correct, Frank."
Jimmy raised his hand. He had a question as well. All focus in the room was on
Jimmy, the office comedian.
"Hypothetically speaking, I can wear a dress as long as I wear underwear
underneath. Now if I wear a dress, I would have to wear hose or socks with my
sandals even if I polish my toenails, correct?" he asked.
"That is correct, Jimmy, and don't forget that you must remove your one
earring," the department head said.
"But you could not send me home if I did not shave my legs and wore a dress,
ankle socks and sandals to work," Jimmy asked for confirmation.
"No, I could not send you home," the department head said as scattered laughter
again started to be heard.
The young woman way down front who wore no underwear had another question.