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by Matt Murray | March 10, 2009


In an age of casual dress, skimpy summer clothes can ruffle feathers in the office.

John Feray, a senior vice president in finance at Hagar Clothing Co., recalls sending a female manager home to change after she came to work in revealing Roman-style sandals laced up her calves.

"In the summer months, people try to get away with anything from halter tops to short skirts," he says. "That puts a lot of responsibility on management to police things."

Another bugaboo is flip-flops. "When you hear someone coming down the hall in big flip-flops, it tends to be a little annoying," he says. His rule of thumb: "If you have to ask yourself, 'Is this acceptable?' you probably shouldn't [wear it to work]."

Jody Venturoni, an executive vice president at public-relations firm Weber Shandwick in Dallas, remembers a colleague at a prior job showing up in a tight-fitting tank top and Lycra bicycle shorts.

"It was up to the employees to interpret the rules, but anything that was considered inappropriate or offensive, employees were able to come to me," she says. "This was just completely inappropriate, even at the gym."

Workers were allowed to wear shorts on hot days, she says, but abided by a "dollar bill" rule which required the shorts to come within a dollar bill's length of the knee.

Clothing issues even extend beyond the office setting. Melanie Ofenloch, senior director of corporate communications at i2 Technologies, also in Dallas, says that at her previous job the chief executive hosted a lake party for employees. One day a new colleague, a young woman, showed off her new outfit for the party. "A little black thong, the smallest I have seen in my life," Ms. Ofenloch recalls. She and some co-workers persuaded the young woman not to wear the offending outfit.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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