Readers on summer office wear: flip flops, frigid AC and give interns a break!

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I got the idea for Monday’s story about the challenge of dressing for work in the summer from a few interesting conversations with friends about their office dress codes. And, judging from the comments prompted by the piece, it’s a topic that lots of people want to talk about.

There were a few defenders of flip flops, but also plenty of scorn — and a little debate about whether Crocs are any better.

As one reader put it:

I always shudder at the sight of flip flops in Metro. Aside from exposing your feet to the grunge there’s the possibility of losing toes in the escalators. I recently bought a pair of Crocs and they came with instructions on how to ride an escalator safely. Protect your pinkies!!

There was also some discussion of how the office air conditioner can help, or maybe go too far:

My office solves the problem of summer dress codes by keeping the temperature at about 65 the entire summer. You would risk frostbite if you wore flip-flops.

And a few commenters suggested that we all give unpaid interns a break, since working for free doesn’t give them a lot to spend on clothes.

I also received a few interesting e-mails from readers.

Donna J. Deters of Fort Washington wrote:

Young people today just don’t have a clue.  There is respect due at your job, and your attire reflects that.  I’m 64, retired after 30 years with the federal government.  Had an experience with dress code myself.

A large conference scheduled for the next day, my male boss asked me to please wear a dress or skirt.  Without hesitation I asked him why my naked legs made me more professional.

That shut him up quickly.  I wore slacks.  Just wanted to share.

And this from Carole E. Hunt in Arlington:

In 1998, Coopers and Lybrand (subsequently PriceWaterhouseCoopers, now IBM) issued its informal dress code, one that was imminently reasonable and brief.  Men were required to wear shirts with collars.  Both women and men were to wear leather shoes (not Adidas/running shoes).  No one was allowed to wear denim, no matter the cost or style.  T-shirts and any shirts with a slogan were not permitted.  Women were permitted to wear slacks (not as skin-tight as they are today).  Brief, understandable, and easy compliance were the words of the day.

Later, I went to work as a subcontractor, in an environment in which women who wore slacks were required to wear a pants suit, not the equivalent of a men’s sport coat and slacks.  I remember specifically, because at the time, I always wore skirt suits to work.  One winter day I fell, and couldn’t manage to put hose over my damaged knee.  Breaking the rule, I apologized to the Program Manager for wearing a plaid jacket and solid slacks, not a suit.  His reply, which indicated that I was merely pond scum, was, “That’s okay.  You’re ONLY a subcontractor.”

What is your office dress code? And what are your best suggestions for coping with the heat?

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