Arguably, dress codes should not be necessary. Surely you should not have to tell people not to wear flip flops to the office (Day 22 of the Shoe Challenge – Havaianas to the Office?!) or go into shops barefoot in pyjamas? Telling people to dress in clothes to go shopping in a supermarket is a bit like telling someone not to fart or pick their nose at the dinner table. There are certain things that personal dignity should prevent you from doing or wearing in public. Apparently, some individuals do need to be reminded of this from time to time.
For example, earlier this week, a Tesco store in Wales was forced to put up this sign.
The sign says:
To avoid causing embarrassment to others we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store (footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted) (The full story is reported atBBC News.)
Don’t get me wrong, I can be as big a slob and am as fond of dressing down around the house as the next sleep deprived mother. There have been times when I have opened the door to our postman in my knickers and a singlet with crunchy eyes and vertical bed hair. You won’t find me at the shops looking like that, though, probably because I don’t smoke these days.
Mother of two boys, Elaine Carmody, 24 of Cardiff believes that there is a different dress code for smokers. She told a Radio 5 reporter that the reason that she was dressed like this in Tesco’s:
was because she “was only popping in for a pack of fags.”
Had she been going in for a full shop, she says, she would have put some clothes on like her trackie bottoms. Ms Carmody believes that tracksuit bottoms are no different to pyjamas.
No doubt, dear lady, you will think that I am a complete snob but I disagree. You will never see me at the supermarket with a face full of make up but I do try to dress in a way that if, you squint, might be classified as Dégagé-chic (ie clean jeans/t-shirts) as opposed to Schlepp-chic (PJs, slippers, anything with vomit or poo on on it, odd socks, tracksuit bottoms with baggy bums). Elaine, the moment that you wear something in the outside world that you have slept in earlier is the moment that you have given up.
Here in Sydney, Australia I recently went into Coles in Brighton-Le-Sands where there were men walking about in Speedos with sun-burned shoulders and bare feet, straight off the beach. The beach is only about 500 yards away so although I would rather not have observed so much of their family tackle, it’s unfair to expect someone to get dressed to grab a quick bottle of water.
On the train during the day with the Minx, however, I often see chaps get on wearing Stubbies and no shirts. For the non-Australians among you Stubbies are basically hot pants for men. See below.
When I first arrived in Australia and saw postmen wearing knee length black socks, black shiny leather shoes and navy blue short shorts I thought that I had wandered into an uncensored episode of The Goodies TV show guest-starring various underdressed elderly Village People. Apparently Stubbies are even more popular in New Zealand as this clip shows. Topless men wearing Stubbies is my least favourite thing to look at on public transport.
That said, I would hate to see narky signs reminding people to put their shirts back on – that is fashion censorship. Strict dress codes are heinous breaches of natural justice as anyone who has every been turned away from a nightclub will tell you. People should be allowed to express themselves in the way that they dress providing that they aren’t breaking any laws.
In the past I have banged on at length about dress codes for lawyers (See Funny, you don’t look like a lawyer… Post October 25, 2009) It is sufficient to say that most law firms ban open toed shoes like the Lipstik brand wedged sandals that I wore today. Thank you, Sara D for upholding my constitutional right to let my toes roam free.