Over-emphasis on dress codes

When trying to find a skirt that hit below my knees, I tried on every black dress skirt in my size in four different stores. By the tenth skirt, I was feeling defeated.

Skirts that hit below the knee are kind of like Big Foot. They may exist but that doesn’t mean they can be found.

Every skirt thus far did not fit professional dress guidelines set forth by professors.

While having a set of guidelines to follow can be useful, the heavy enforcement of them may not be the best idea because the chance of these guidelines changing when a student enters the workforce is high.

Each profession has its own set of guidelines. Each company has its own version of professional dress.

Derek Solheim, associate director of Pathways Center for Career Services, said students won’t really know what their professional dress will be until they start working at a company or organization.

“Is the organization you are working in more Google like where you could wear blue jeans, a T-shirt and tennis shoes, or is it an organization that tends to be more business casual or professional,” Solheim said.

Dr. Penni Pier, professor in the department of Journalism and Communication, gave students in last year’s Journalism and Communication capstone a list of professional dress guidelines.

The guidelines for women include skirts that hit below the knee when standing, fitted blazers and closed-toed shoes with a heel no higher than three inches. For men, the guidelines include tailored suits, ties and closed toed leather shoes.

Compare this to the dress code for my internship through Wartburg West this past summer. The dress code at the Colorado Community Media was business casual, defined as “better than jeans and nice enough to look professional to interview a mayor.”

No mention of skirt length, suits, blazers or even heel height. I got away with wearing jeans a couple times.

There were still guidelines to follow, but the guidelines were more business casual, which are guidelines that are not brought up in most of my classes.

For guys, there weren’t as many guidelines to follow, but they have fewer options of what to wear for something to be counted as business professional by Capstone standards. Not every company is going to require suits. Many companies may lean more towards business casual, allowing for more outfit options.

Solheim think having these guidelines stressed now may not be a bad thing.

“Once you get into the work environment you can always adjust. I would rather have you err on the side of caution and look to see what others are wearing,” Solheim said.

Guidelines are helpful, but professors should tell students that there is a good chance those guidelines will probably change when they enter the work force.

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