“Dress Appropriately.”

Today at work we got an amazing announcement. The dress code for Caterpillar INC’s LC building is now “Dress Appropriately.” The email was very simply stated about what to and not to wear to work from now on.

“Dress appropriately is individualized by you for your work day. You are the only person who can determine what it means to:

Dress for your safety.
Dress for your personal brand.
Dress for your day.
Dress for your audience.
Dress for your work location.

This is effective immediately.”

Coming from the Pacific Northwest and working for an amazing little outdoor company known as REI *Recreational Equipment Incorporated: http://www.rei.com* the concept of how to Dress Appropriately is neither new, nor is it “questionable. If someone says to Dress Appropriately, it generally means at least a few of the following:

-No Holes
-No Frayed Edges
-No Spegetti Straps for the girls, or exceedingly low cut, boobs about to bounce out shirts
-No Uber Short skirts or shorts *guys and gals*
-No profanity on shirts
-Nothing that could be taken as a slanderous imagery or words towards someone elses race, religion, etc

So if I want to come in dressed in jeans and a nice shirt with a pull over fleece, or a zip up, I can do so.

Unfortunately for a company that is so founded in “tradition” and “This is the way we’ve done things for years” that the people of this company are having a hard time understanding what they should wear after being told what to wear for so many years. I don’t want to point figures but the loudest speakers on this subject so far have been the men. Stating things like:

“If we have such open rules girls are going to just show up in Daisy Dukes and Spegetti Strap tank tops. Guh.”

“haa haa yah, or a Mumu.”

“This is why we can’t have rules like this, there are already women who don’t know how to dress appropriately.”

Wow. Bravo boys. You’ve now proven that you think women don’t know how to dress themselves without strict confines that have been predetermined by other men in the field. The women on the other hand whom I have spoken with thus far have had much better ways to look at it.

“I’ll absolutely come to work in jeans and a nice top. Though if I have to give a presentation I’ll likely still dress up a bit more. Dress to the audience.”

It shows in and through simple conversation that women in this work place DO in fact understand the new dress code. While I’m not a man hater I do get very annoyed when these sorts of gendered stereotypes are so blatantly and loudly spoken about in a work place without ramification for what they are saying. In speaking to one of my co-workers regarding the awkward statement that people were going to show up wearing Daisy Dukes and Spegetti Straps, the only reply I received was “Well I’m sorry if my comment offended you *sarcastic hands*, but there are a lot of people who don’t know how to dress themselves here.” Uh….wow. Well then.

As Caterpillar INC tries to become the “Google of the Midwest” in terms of culture, it seems that its going to take a few curmudgeons some time to get used to what is second nature for a majority of workers in the Pacific Northwest. Dark wash jeans and North Face Fleecy’s to be handed out shortly.

//end rant
**Sorry to make this blog post more rant than anything else. But it galls me to no end that the off handed comments from co workers today were largely focused on the women who work here. It states that they don’t think women can dress themselves, aren’t smart enough to know how, and have no regard for the positions that they hold in the work place. That’s exceedingly insulting.

Additionally Props to Caterpillar INC on updating their Dress Codes to become a more comfortable place to work. I highly applaud your decision and will be wearing a nice outfit of darkwash jeans and a nice shirt tomorrow.


2 thoughts on ““Dress Appropriately.”

  1. The other problem is that women’s clothing is so varied while men’s clothing is pretty regular. Men can attend work, a wedding, a funeral, a nightclub, and an outdoor BBQ all in the same button-up shorts and khaki pants or nice dark wash jeans. Their biggest decision is: tie or no tie? And even then, if they decide wrong, it isn’t really a big deal it seems. Women have so many more choices. A single dress or separates? Skirts or pants? Heels or flats? How much jewelry/accessories? How much makeup? Don’t do too little or people will say you look sick or tired or like you aren’t trying. Don’t do too much or people will say you look inappropriate for the work place. PANTYHOSE???? HOW ARE THOSE STILL A THING??? Like so many things, men’s relationship to fashion is a privilege. They can choose to go all out or to put zero effort into it, and either way they are left to their own devices. Women, on the other hand, are expected to BOTH present according to feminine norms (being pleasing to the eye of every random man that walks by you on the street is part of performing femininity) AND adhere to this complex code that is supposed to navigate them between the roads of matronly (mumu) and slutty (spaghetti strap tops). NOTE THAT THOSE TWO UNDESIRABLE POSITIONS ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO MEN! GRR!

    • This hits the nail exactly on the head of what has been bothering me the most about it. Either way when it comes to clothing for the work place there is an option for men: Pants and a shirt, no holes prefered, to where the women are damned no matter what they wear for either trying too hard or not at all, for showing too much or not enough etc. Either way women are immediately judged on what they are wearing.

      I will go to state though that for men there are other connotations for how they are dressing. If a man comes in with his hair a complete mess, holes in his pants, shirt untucked, or a wife beater on, then he clearly either “doesn’t care about himself or his job,” or can be seen as someone who “isn’t reliable.” If you can’t keep your own appearance nice, what can you do? However, this doesn’t speak as an insult to their sexual life, nor does it presume anything about it. (imo)

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