Earlier this month my agency’s third executive director in less than 18 months arrived. One of the perks of being top dog in the agency is that you can have it your way (just like at Burger King).
Our second director was European. After he arrived, one of the changes he made was to require all agency correspondence to follow the European format. Phone numbers were written with periods (123.456.7890), not dashes. The inside address is at the top right, not top left, of all pages after the first one. (The new executive director is American, so we will probably return to the “American” correspondence style.)
The new director has lost no time in marking his territory. He has promulgated a detailed dress code.
I’m acquainted with detailed dress codes. My private prep school in Manila had one. No jeans. Leather shoes. Shirts must have collars and buttons all the way down the front. Skirts must not be more than two inches above the top of the knee. Blouses must have sleeves. And so on.
The agency dress code is fairly logical. No jeans. No flip flops, sneakers or athletic shoes.
But there is one requirement which I find…interesting. Especially from an enforcement perspective. It is this: undergarments must be worn but not be visible.
The conundrum is obvious. If you must wear undergarments but they are not visible, then how is your compliance determined? It is accepted that a law which is not easily enforced is a poor law. Why should that principle not apply to a dress code?
Is it intentionally worded for enforcement against women who “flash” their lack of panties? Why should men be allowed not to wear underwear because enforcement is practically impossible, short of an older worker forgetting to zip his fly and inadvertently letting his “junk” hang out? (I wonder if the “undergarments” requirement would exist if the director was a woman….?)
Then, there’s the “visible” issue. Is a visible panty line a violation? (At least, it’s evidence of wearing underwear.) If it’s not a violation, why not? What does “visible” mean? (What does “is” mean?)
And my enquiring mind wants to know: why was the word “undergarments” used instead of “underwear”? I believe the former was deliberately used because it has a broader scope than the latter. “Undergarments” unquestionably includes bras, whereas it can be argued that “underwear” does not. So possibly the real intent of the “undergarments” language is to require women to wear bras.
Maybe the dress code is all about some young honey jiggling too much but because there was no specific “undergarments” policy there was no basis for demanding a bra. After all, even in World War II we knew that “loose tits sink ships” and are we not at war? (Huh? It was “lips”…?) So for want of a bra, a dress code was born….
Maybe “Dateline” or “60 Minutes” will investigate what may be “bra-gate.” Because I think there may be something about this dress code that needs to be…exposed.