Dressing appropriately for office is a personal choice. It depends on a lot of factors that are beyond the individual’s control. Some people like bright colors, others like skirts, some like to wear suits, and so forth. The bottom line though is that everyone has a different perception of what is not appropriate for office. To complicate matters further, there are dress codes that apply to men and women, which make it even more difficult for employers to make decisions about dress code enforcement.
There are two things to consider when deciding on how to choose to dress. First, what is the definition of appropriate? If something is deemed inappropriate, then it is wrong for you to do it. But this is where your personal choice comes into play. You can choose to be uncomfortable so as to test the waters, or you can act on your own impulse and choose comfort. So, which way to go?
In situations where the rules are very specific about the type of attire an employee can or cannot wear, there may be no choice at all. For example, if a person has been instructed not to wear jeans to work because it is considered inappropriate, then it would be impossible for that person to choose any other option. But it is not as cut and dried as that. There may be an easy solution. Allow for personal choice.
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There are cases when employers have imposed rules that are so ridiculous that one would wonder if they have been implemented by robots. These examples include rules about socks, jackets, long sleeves, low heels, earrings, neckties, or shoes. Each of these items can be dressed for success; there are countless choices out there.
So, what is the real issue with rules? The real issue is not that one is being forced to change or dress in a manner that does not make sense. The real issue is that these rules are generally not tailored to the individual employee. They are simply imposed by someone making up rules to make life easier for someone else.
An alternative solution is to allow for the individual making the rules to be subjective. This will allow each employee to have a personal choice. Let’s look at another example. If an employer mandates that all employees must wear a uniform, and another employee believes that this particular rule is ridiculous and not needed, then she can choose to wear a different uniform or work without wearing the uniform. Each of these situations is an individual situation, but both are situations that can be resolved in a way that benefits the company as a whole.
It is important to remember that this all happens on a voluntary basis. Most employees will choose to alter their wardrobe based on peer pressure from co-workers, but they are still free to break the rules if they so choose. It is important to recognize that each individual is the only one that can make a personal choice to dress the way they choose. If a company insists that everyone dress a certain way, then this should be interpreted as a form of bullying.
Ultimately, personal choice is what matters. The person choosing to wear something other than the way the company demands is the one who will suffer the consequences. In a bullying situation, the bully has one objective; to use the personal choice rule as a weapon to control the lives of those that he considers weaker than him. In this instance, the punishment the bully gives the weaker individual is unnecessary; all that is necessary is for the individual to understand that if he violates the rules, he may lose some of his friends.