To ask trainee again to change her clothes

(112 Posts)
badbelinda Mon 09-Sep-13 21:11:09

Thread inspired by recent headmistress and uniform thread. I work in a professional role that involves a lot of public interface and within that role I also mentor juniors. My current junior often wears smart jeans (usually black) and a year ago I told her I didn't think jeans were appropriate for our work setting and didn't give a very professional image. At that time she stopped wearing them for a while, changing to smart trousers which I thought was fine. She's recently started wearing jeans again and now also smart trainers. So AIBU to bring this up again? If you go to see a professional in any role, what would you think of them wearing jeans and trainers (albeit smart ones)? Am I just getting old?

TiredDog Mon 09-Sep-13 22:39:55

I wear black jeans if I'm not meeting colleagues or clients. If you are her boss and she was made aware of uniform policy on employment she has to abide by it.

TiredDog Mon 09-Sep-13 22:41:14

I am the boss and am probably scruffiness staff member blush. I do however scrub up well and can look smart if occasion requires it. Scruffy usually denotes a day in the office on my own

<<Some people care and some people don't. The problem is that you don't know what category your client falls into when you first meet them. You stand less chance of a negative reaction to formal clothing than informal.>>

This is a very good point!

I was going to say that non-faded black jeans & non-scruffy trainers should be fine, but not all clients will think so, and it's best to err on the side of caution here. It sounds as if she needs a reminder, but I wouldn't be too hard on her. It takes me time to get used to wearing formal non-scruff clothes every day.

TheFarSide Mon 09-Sep-13 22:44:51

Fair enough Chazs.

I do wonder though how it often seems to be jeans that pose a problem. It's almost like a knee jerk reaction to label them unprofessional when in fact many jeans can look a lot nicer than cheap shiny black trousers (for example).

Notcontent Mon 09-Sep-13 22:46:06

I think for women, in particular, options for work have become so varied and some of the lines are a bit blurred, so some people push it a step too far. I work at a law firm and most women don't wear a suit anymore. But it's common sense really that jeans - even really nice jeans - are just not appropriate unless an office has a casual dress policy.

Finola1step Mon 09-Sep-13 22:48:52

It sounds like you have a straight forward dress code at work (professional attire, suit and tie for men, smart trousers and tops or blouses for women). If this is the unwritten dress code, she still needs to abide by it. But best to get it in written policy for all staff and even volunteers.

TheFarSide Mon 09-Sep-13 22:49:40

I'm challenging "common sense" though Notcontent. Why is that denim = not appropriate but linen/polyester/acrylic/silk/whatever = appropriate?

I'd mention it again with a warning that you couldn't let her represent the company to clients if she's dressed inappropriately. Clear guidance of what is and isn't appropriate, and follow through on the threat if she's in jeans and trainers.

EldritchCleavage Mon 09-Sep-13 22:55:25

I have trainees. My deal is, while they are with me they conform to my dress code.

Which is: on home office days they can be a bit more casual. But they should keep more formal clothes in the office in case we suddenly go out. For all meetings, seminars, presentations and client schmoozing, they have to wear formal clothes (suits basically) or they don't go.

I just can't have someone for whom I am responsible and who reflects on my bopping about in my peripheral vision in unsuitable clothes, distracting me.

McNewPants2013 Mon 09-Sep-13 22:55:37

I really don't care what people wear, I don't judge someone on the clothes they wear. In fact i get nervous around professional people, and the suit just add to the nerves.

However if it's the work place policy not to wear jeans, then she should adhere to the policy.

BackforGood Mon 09-Sep-13 22:56:49

Of course YANBU - if she is not capable of realising that it's not appropriate in that position to be wearing jeans - or, even worse, jeans and trainers, then she needs to be told. That's why trainees / new people are given mentors, surely?

Notcontent Mon 09-Sep-13 22:56:50

Thefarside - I think there is just something about denim/jeans that represents a certain casualness.

Junebugjr Mon 09-Sep-13 23:07:55

I oversee trainees, along with my colleagues, so we have about 2/3 a year at any given time. During a strictly office day, I have no problems with casual wear, but if we are at court, or in meetings with other professionals, there's a certain standard of dress that's expected. I think you'll probably have to bring it up again, and be firmer unfortunately.
The problem we have is overly sexy clothing, the amount of times trainees have come in dressed all out to do each other is unbelievable. One came dressed in long boots, mini skirt and vest top once while I was showing round an MP. I've had some bloody awkward convos I can tell you.

EldritchCleavage Mon 09-Sep-13 23:18:36

A client of mine comes to meet me with her trainee who does the overly sexy thing. I mean, to the point where it is really quite strange, drag-queeny. I would have to say something if she worked with me.

One thing though, it does always have to be quite general, about what is appropriate and not simply imposing your taste on someone. I'm getting so old now the trainees quite often wear stuff I think is foul/ridiculous/horrid but that's none of my business really. I grit my teeth and stick to giving perameters.

IAmMiranda Mon 09-Sep-13 23:19:25

I wear jeans to work [shrugs]. Don't do a lot of public facing though and would dress smart for a meeting.
Guess it depends on the context.

If it's companypolicy then yes, call all your juniors together and remind them of the no-jeans rule.
If there is no company policy and it's just you being a catsbumface then you need to get over yourself. People who get very hung up on having pointless rules followed and their 'authority' respected are usually incompetent at their jobs and inadequate in their personal lives.

EldritchCleavage Mon 09-Sep-13 23:27:42

People who get very hung up on having pointless rules followed and their 'authority' respected are usually incompetent at their jobs and inadequate in their personal lives

That's me told. I may have to go and lie down.

Retroformica Mon 09-Sep-13 23:36:37

I would be very happy to deal with professionals wearing smart back jeans/trainers.

TiredDog Tue 10-Sep-13 07:35:01

It's not really about what individuals want or are happy with etc. It's about corporate image and rules. You can rebel against it but tbh enough customers react badly to a particular dress style that I think a safe approach if you are dealing with clients and customers and is a reasonable request....by someone paying you to meet their clients.

I agree that smart black jeans, smart shoes and a work shirt can give a appearance which is acceptable for some professions and situations. Some black jeans look like smart black trousers and are just made of thicker cotton rather than denim (isn't denim thick cotton anyway??)

In my work area we don't power dress (no suits on women) which means there is big range of clothing and the vast majority of women get it right. Smart and dressed for work ...not the supermarket, the beach, the nightclub, the wine bar, the cute guy in the next office.

Sexy dressing at work is usually crass. I smiled at Junebugjr's post because I fairly recently showed an MP around. All staff very smart and the media team brought a new member of staff dressed so inappropriately that I had a struggle to keep my jaw off the floor and not make a direct request that she didn't join us.

kungfupannda Tue 10-Sep-13 07:58:39

Jeans are pretty universally accepted as casual clothing. It's not necessarily about what they look like, but the simple fact that they are being worn that gives a particular impression.

If you're working in a situation where you're giving professional advice, you don't want your clothes to be the main thing that the client notices. They've come for advice - not to admire your trendy/sexy/designer clothes.

But if you're the boss, then just tell her and make sure she adheres to it.

If everyone else dresses appropriately I would introduce a dress code.

Kerosene Tue 10-Sep-13 08:51:07

Some of the clients I work with have an odd attitude to clothes - I've gone to board meetings where I'm expected to do the full Saville Row, and others where they're snitty to me if I turn up in my usual office-wear, but actively embrace me if I rock up to their office in stompy boots and a rumpled shirt. It's not about me, it's about meeting the client's requirements - which might be demonstrating to their Board that the people they've contracted are Serious Business People, or understanding that they've a particular ethos that doesn't sit well with standard corporate practices. Demonstrating that through clothes is an easy bit of non-verbal communication.

If your clients are expecting to interact with traditionally-dressed business people, jeans and trainers - no matter how smart -will put her and you on the back foot. Make sure it's a documented policy and have another word.

LustyBusty Tue 10-Sep-13 08:53:49

It's tricky. I recently had an "incidident" ok, I spilled my breakfast!! that meant I ended up going into work wearing a fitted shirt, flat black patent ballet pumps and brand new black skinny jeans. My (male) colleague frequently wears unironed black baggy trousers and shirts that are very see through (supermarket value range -not snobby, but the material is so thin I can actually see his chest hair THROUGH it! <boak>) which are also unironed. I got pulled up due to looking "unprofessional". He doesn't. Now, I don't bother even trying. My smart trousers need ironing? Bollocks to it.

badguider Tue 10-Sep-13 09:00:02

I work with architects and engineers who wear smart "trendy" jeans and trainers.
As do the 'creatives', academics, doctors and project managers.

For some reason though solicitors and accountants are always expected to dress very boringly / conservatively.

So it's really not about "professionalism" it's about the expectations in the specific field / office.

Platinumstart Tue 10-Sep-13 09:05:50

The overly sexy thing drives me mad - I'm a lawyer at a professional services firm and although no longer as conservative as I was when I was in court everyday I do tend to stick to "corporate wear" (LK Bennett or Hobbs dress etc)

The vast majority of our junior female staff dress like they are going clubbing: thigh length dress, bare legs, platform soled stripper heels, hair back combed into the dragged through a hedge look and false eyelashes. Honestly false eyelashes FFS!

It's a constant bone of contention in the office and not dealt with effectively, HR would prefer not to so it is left to individual managers.

Anyway I digress jeans and trainers are not sufficiently smart IMO

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