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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?

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 10:26:23

I think this is bonkers. I'm no less likely to trust a solicitor in jeans and trainers than one in a well-cut navy suit.

I dislike corporate uniform. It has no place in 2013 and it's time we ditched it.

LillyNotOfTheValley Thu 12-Sep-13 16:10:37

I think there are two separate issues here: the fact she is wearing inappropriate clothing and that she is not abiding to your instructions.

A dress code is a dress code! Even when it is not written down and signed you have to follow it, whatever your fashion ideas are. I am working with writers and whenever I take them to clients meetings I have to sendthem a reminder on how to dress (corporate). I would not dream of hiring a lawyer that does not look like one too, I am trusting them with three digits contracts, ffs.

I would be more worried about her not abiding by the rules and not list to you tbh. That is where she deserves a good telling off.

Actually, disobeying someone who is overreaching his/her authority is quite a good thing to do. It slaps down the officious middle manager and stops him/her from bullying less confident staff.

LillyNotOfTheValley Thu 12-Sep-13 22:53:53

Solid except that when it is your own business and your employee may actually reflect badly on your clients - whatever you think of their ideas on how a lawyer should look like!

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 00:19:44

Nothing shouts 'middle manager' quite like a skirt suit from Matalan. grin

ZillionChocolate Fri 13-Sep-13 08:08:56

http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/43507/revised_guidance_on_court_dress.pdf
If you're a lawyer who might need to go to court, then you should be court ready, that is in a dark coloured formal business suit. I think you should wear much the same if you might be seeing/meeting clients.

Time for a written dress code I think.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Fri 13-Sep-13 13:14:38

Does everyone realise that the OP does NOT work in law? It's like that but not. So all this discussion on what solicitors should wear is beside the point.

NomDeClavier Fri 13-Sep-13 13:23:18

She doesn't say it's not law - she says it's not a solicitor. That could still be patent or trade mark attorney, conveyancer etc...

PosyNarker Fri 13-Sep-13 13:31:54

I would say something. I work in an office casual environment - thicker cotton 'jean style' trousers would probably be okay teamed with a shirt, jacket and appropriate shoes. Obvious denims are only allowed on dress down Friday or if there's a good reason (away day, office move, IT lugging kit etc.)

Most people 'get it' and will automatically dress up for more important meetings, or when meeting externals and save the more casual end of their wardrobe for days in the office with no meetings. Trainees often don't (there is I am sure a reason why our policy explicitly states that cropped tops and micro minis are not appropriate for dress down Friday)

Comfort isn't an excuse. It is perfectly possible to be smart and comfortable (I wear a lot of jersey dresses, skirts with smart wool tops rather than shirts etc and actually find the jeans I wear on 'dress down day' more restrictive).

badbelinda Sun 15-Sep-13 20:41:59

Sorry have been away. Thank you all for your interesting thoughts. I'm not middle management and I'm not bullying her, just trying to work out whether in my capacity as her mentor this is worth tackling, partly for the image of our firm but mainly for her own future credibillity and employability.

BiBiBroccoli Sun 15-Sep-13 20:49:41

I went to see a solicitor recently and the receptionist was wandering around barefoot. The solicitor was also scruffy and the office was full of boxes of paperwork and old coffee cups.

Took my business elsewhere as it really made me question how professional they were and how disinterested they may be in their work.

It's a tricky line OP - I used to work with my sister and was friends with her assistant.
DSis had to speak to her a couple of times about appropriate office dress and makeup, as the assistant was a fan of plunging crop tops, and was plastered in makeup but several days old eyeliner all over the place and hair unbrushed (not a fashion look, just v messy).
The assistant took it as bullying and considered reporting her to HR.

Knowing both of them as I did, I can guarantee my sister did NOT bully her, but would not have backed down when disagreed with, and may have chosen her words badly.
The assistant did actually look too tarty/unkempt for her role, but couldn't see it, and was offended by the suggestion.
I am very glad I kept out of the whole discussion!

If you are going to approach her, I'd do so with a freshly written company dress policy in your hand, as you distribute it to all staff, without directly criticising her clothes.
Bear in mind tho, a new work wardrobe doesn't come cheap, you may need to give her a while to get it sorted! <Memories of minimum wage job with ridiculously tight dress code for non-client-facing role>

How about:
"Smart business attire to be worn, jackets and ties preferred for men, minimal makeup and jewellery, no denim, sportswear, or casual footwear (trainers/flipflops)" etc.

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