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Employers Tightening Up Dress Codes

Office dress codes have loosened up considerably over the past generation. But as more employees push the bounds of good taste, employers are pushing back.



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Beth Newman is a Houston-based image consultant who regularly conducts seminars for businesses on professional dress. One of the topics employers most frequently ask her to talk about is casual Friday.

“It’s gone from being casual to right out sloppy.”

Fashion missteps are most common among younger employees. But older workers notice when twenty-somethings get away with wearing denim or sporting multiple piercings. And the problem is spreading.

“Like it or not, we’re a very image conscious society. And if we see the bank staff dress down and looking a little bit ratty or seeing the receptionist at the doctor’s office wearing flip flops and some jeans that aren’t that great, we lose confidence in that.”

Newman says employers are worried about the effect on their businesses, and they’re starting to crack down by tightening dress codes.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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