Female Employee Wonders If She's In The Wrong By Using Company's Dress Code To Look 'Frumpy' On Purpose After Slew Of Sexist Comments
On the popular subreddit "Am I The A**hole?" Reddit users congregate to see whether their strange behavior is justified morally.
One of this past week's most viral posts was from a user named aWorkProblem0, who explained why she's been dressing "frumpier" at work.
"I'm a 23 year old woman at a company with a pretty... Old timey culture. Even though it's a programming job, where we are not customer facing, we have a "business casual" dress code. It's also got a really fucking sexist culture, I've lost patience with off color jokes and a lotttt of comments on my looks."
"I started out trying to dress nice, fitted tailored slacks, fashionable blouses, hair done, nice low heels or flats. I was always modest."
"And I got sooo sick of people saying sh*t about my body, my a**, even just the "you look reaaally nice today" that guys would never say to each other."
"So I started naturally tending towards my frumpier things."
"And when I went shopping I tended towards looser fitting stuff. Slacks with wide square legs that were loose in the butt and would hide my butt and legs. Several sizes above my usual size. Long cardigans that were big and warm but not fitted. Frumpy-ass loafers. I also cut off most of my hair and got some big tortose shell glasses that I've been wearing rather than contacts."
"I'm following the dress code very literally, slacks, cardigans, loafers are all allowed. But yeah all of them together make me look like a very frumpy elderly librarian (no offense to librarians, y'all are awesome!)"
"I basically stopped getting positive comments on my looks. Now it's not like some magic silver bullet, theres still more than enough BS, Enough that I'm quietly starting to job search."
"But my company is having a couple top executives come to the office for a week and my boss told me in a meeting to please 'dress professionally' during the visit"
"I asked him what he meant by that, was there something unprofessional about my day to day outfits?"
"He stumbled over his words for a bit then went 'Fit is a part of clothes looking professional, your items are fine but don't seem... Carefully selected for your size.'"
"I said that I was more comfortable in clothes of my current fit because I was sick and tired of comments on my body."
"He asked if there had been any new comments (I always told him about stuff in the past) and I said that there was nothing egrigious. He said that he or other managers had had a talk about each of those, and he hopes that would be enough to prevent future issues."
"I was thinking, if it's not those six, it'll be someone else, then someone else, then someone else. It's a culture problem, not a personal problem. But I didn't say that, I didn't want to push stuff too far."
"So I said I would select my clothes more carefully for the coming week."
"Now, that week is coming and I was thinking I would wear the same black slacks as always and pick one of my nicest sweaters and one of my nicest cardigans. But honestly I do not think that will solve the issue of fit that the talk was about to start with."
"AITA / WIBTA to keep following the dress code to the letter but look frumpy on purpose?"
lilmissaggie suggested the original poster get out of there.
"NTA but sounds like maybe time to find a new job at a place without a toxic work culture. They will limit your progression for not playing the game and not being 'professional'"
"OP didn't say she was picking oversized clothes, but looser fitting clothes. Wide legged pants and flowy/drapey cardigans in her appropriate size are a style choice. OP states these items are in line with the dress code, which leads me to believe there isn't specific language about tailoring or fit in the dress code."
"I also work for a company with an outdated and fairly sexist dress code where they go so far as to state that 'underwear must be in good taste,' so I understand that frustration."
"If OP is following the dress code and her clothes are her appropriate size regardless of stylized fit, her manager overstepped. Which sounds like a common occurrence and the bigger issue of culture leading to the new job search."
scarletnightingale has been in a similar situation before.
"Honestly, I've been there (still there actually), I'm also looking for new work. It was the same thing. I dressed like a normal person, I got harassed, the company told me to not dress that way, I started dressing frumpy in clothes that were too big but in dress code, then they complained. Sometimes you feel like you can't win, it is an awful feeling and completely lonely since no matter what you do, somehow you are wrong."
toralights thinks OP should go for broke.
"NTA. This is the time to be petty. Find an outfit that is professional but ugly as h*ll, like a dull ugly brown boxy work outfit and just keep following the rules."
justhewayouare knows women have to learn early about sexist nonsense.
"Whats worse is that she likely knows how to dress like this because women start facing this even in Jr High. The dress code is always more strict for women than for men and in many instances highly unbalanced. The only difference is when you're a teenage girl authority figures tell you, 'By dressing this way you're preventing the boys around you from learning and are a distraction,' and then you grow up and your boss tells you this shit. It never ends."
chocopinkie brought out the sad truth: there is no "right" way to dress when the culture is toxic.
"hey i faced the same situation. but i was freshly graduated back then and was just confused. everything i wore was wrong. business blazer was wrong, long sleeve dress shirt was wrong, and eventually one dress my director commented was 'nice'.
after working for some time i realise that dress was NOTHING professional. it was too short, just slightly covering my ass, sheer at the shoulder region, and a skater dress basically. what they wanted wasn't professional. they wanted sexy. i was super creeped out."
Laure2018 suggested OP take things to the next level if necessary.
"If that ever happens again and I mean ever use the term sexual harassment. We use the example in our New Employee Orientation that saying Hey, you look nice today vs. heeeyyy. You look niiice today can be the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment (we also say it's better not to comment on appearance but rather work performance if you want to give a compliment). If you use the term sexual harassment it lets your boss know you know what is going on and that you aren't going to put up with it. Companies would rather not deal with sexual harassment suits. And most states protect against retaliation. I'm sorry you are going through this!"