A Boss's Shocking Request At Work Because Of A Mid-Thigh-Length Dress

Jade Beall in a National Picnic DressWe all know that women face various obstacles and hassles in many work environments so maybe this story should come as no surprise. A longtime customer at Fed By Threads wrote the other day because a hemp-organic cotton dress she purchased unexpectedly shrunk 1 inch in length but it was her boss' request that shocked me. It isn't unusual for some pieces to shrink and in the process of talking with her about her washing care, she told me that even though she had used cold-water and hung it to dry, it still had raised to a level that may no longer be work-appropriate. 

But as we were brainstorming solutions, she happened to convey her employer's request at work: "Please don't stand up straight for the rest of the day because of how short that dress is."

Really, is she supposed to spend the rest of the day leaning forward or doing some other clumsy bodily heroics in order to not show too much mid-thigh? This piece happens to be one of our most professional pieces in the shop by National Picnic, made in a hemp-organic cotton blend that conveys the look of a grey linen with a cute empire-wasted cinch bow-tie. It's not like a dress that one might wear in a sensual dance video, not as if there is even something wrong with those either. 

At first I laughed at the absurdity of the boss' request but that humor also toned down my sheer disgust that they couldn't allow this piece to be worn standing straight up for the remainder of the day and instead had to bully a woman in the workplace into standing and walking hunched over in order to drop the dress length an inch or two? 

And what should my customer have done in that situation? Simply walk like a hunch-back for the rest of the day? Or say something to her boss? 

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-Alok Appadurai is co-founder of Fed By Threads, a writer, proud father, advocate for change, a vegetarian, public speaker, social entrepreneur, and curious thinker. 

 

***The Photo is NOT of my customer, but that is the dress in question. We wanted to keep her identity private***




Alok Appadurai
Alok Appadurai

Author



7 Responses

Pat Malcolm
Pat Malcolm

October 09, 2014

I agree that the boss was clumsy, or even crude, in his comment. He could have sent her home to change clothes, or, if possible, reassigned her to a different area for the day. The dress would probably still be stylish and cute with a black skirt beneath, especially since the skirt wouldn’t have to be a whole lot longer than the dress. Employees should be aware that in many sectors of the working sphere professional dress means not being too revealing, and if the outfit makes another employee—or a boss—feel uncomfortable it is really not appropriate. It won’t be wasted, just adapt the outfit or save it for evenings out on the town.

Rita
Rita

October 08, 2014

How short did the dress get? I am a professional who works with psychiatric clients and I need to dress appropriately. I have to remind interns and new staff members to do the same since some of them tend to expose too much which is distracting to clients and their treatment. It depends on your work environment. I do think the boss could have addressed the concern in a more tasteful manner. I would also suggest you take care in your use of words like absurd, disgust, bully and be more open and non judgmental. Maybe, in all honesty, her dress was too short to wear to work as she stated. You did not specify if the boss was male or female but made the reader possibly assume the boss was male with stating females are hassled. I do hope your company offered to replace her dress with a new one. If she was unable to advocate this for herself, I certainly will.

Hilary
Hilary

October 08, 2014

Ridiculous! I have had a couple of similar things happen to me in my workplace, wearing something that I thought (and other people would agree) was acceptable workplace clothing. It is disappointing that exposed legs (and not even in their entirety) has some sort of shame attached to it, still.

But, I didn’t know about this piece and I think it’s super cute. So I will be coming in to try it on :)

Kathleen
Kathleen

October 08, 2014

If the dress really was mid-THIGH, that is pretty short but the request was still ridiculous. The dress in the photo looks mid-KNEE to me, which is far from too short. Did you mean to say mid-knee?

Alaina
Alaina

October 08, 2014

It’s funny – MY first thought was that her boss was being inappropriate in a totally different way. If she’s to lean forward all day – what is the BACK of her dress doing/showing?

Sandy
Sandy

October 08, 2014

Maybe that was the boss letting her know In a joking manner that the length of the dress was inappropriate for the job. It is one of the least pleasant aspects of supervision to tell an employee that s/he is not dressed appropriately for the job. I hope the employee takes the hint and reserves the dress for personal time.

Sara
Sara

October 08, 2014

If someone is out of dress code, it is appropriate to ask them to return home and change. Anything else seems unprofessional to me, especially asking the employee to behave in a degrading way.

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