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Crimes against fashion

I have some personal fashion likes and dislikes, unwritten “Jodie” rules that I don’t break, which makes it really difficult at times to be impartial in an interview situation when these “crimes against fashion” are committed.

They say it takes 7 seconds to make a first impression and having been in recruitment for nearly 30 years I'm pretty good at summing someone up in half that time.

Interview faux pas

To me, faux pas can demonstrate a lack of forethought, preparedness and practicality in a candidate.

Imaging someone who shows up to an interview in open toe shoes and without a jacket – but then comments on how cold the day is through chattering teeth and goose bumps. Do you have a brain?

Would I discount someone because of the way they dress? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends on my client’s internal dress code, whether what they are wearing is downright not appropriate, or if personal presentation plays an important part in the role I am filling.

…so are we missing top talent because of our own personal dress standards?

Firstly, let me make something clear, I do not believe that presentation (for most of the time) impacts a person’s ability to perform the duties required of a job. But in a time of increasingly flexible work environments, and a diverse and fluid world breaking down superficial standards and stereotypes, what is acceptable and unacceptable?

It is my opinion that dress should be open to the interpretation of the individual, but what about the institution?

One person’s “appropriate” can easily be another’s “what are they thinking?” and words like “professional,” when used to describe dress requirements, can be vague and confusing.

In the 80’s and 90’s “dressing for success” was tailored suits, stockings and high court shoes but thanks to some super successful people donning denim - dressing “corporate casual” is potentially considered more appropriate, relatable and contemporary in the 2020’s.

So how do I create and enforce a dress code in 2020?

There is no real right or wrong - just what is right for the business and the expectations of the business and the clientele. But if you aren't clear about your expectations, you cannot expect people to meet them. For me “Dress Code” is simply outlining and clearly explaining what you want.

Some dress code examples:

  • Jacket to be worn when client-facing

  • Corporate casual on non-client facing days

  • Closed-toe shoes, scuff free

  • Clothes to be lint free and fur free

  • No raw edges on trousers and jackets, no rips

  • Whites should be white (another Jodie rule)

Just remember, it is 2020, so your presentation guidelines (or dress code, or personal grooming standards) cannot discriminate. The standards and expectations cannot discriminate against gender, sexual orientation, cultural identity, disability, or religious beliefs – any standard you have needs to be applicable to and achievable by everyone.

By Jodie Perram

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