1960s dress codes in the 21st century

This is almost less mad than what follows:Sometimes we at WLLG receive an e-mail in our inbox that basically needs to be repeated in full. Today is one such day, enjoy:

Hi guys,

Knowing your love of quirkyness in local government I thought I’d send you the dress code we were asked to follow a couple of years ago. I still can’t work out if the person who put it together wasn’t really paying attention and simply copied it from a 1960s guide or whether she genuinely used these words. As you will be able to tell before too long it was quickly abandoned due to not enough staff owning two piece knit suits or a trouser press.

Remember, this was a dress code form the 2000s!

Work dress code

First impressions count. A professional consultant who doesn’t take the time to maintain a professional appearance presents the image of not being able to perform their work adequately. This professional dress code is set out here to provide xxxx Departmental staff with guidance on appropriate professional appearance and demeanour.

Looking and behaving as highly trained and well-groomed professional will improve your image and that of the Division and gain the respect of your customers and colleagues.

Formal Dress code guidelines

In a  formal business environment, the standard form of dressing for me and women is a suit, a jacket and trousers or a skirt, or a dress paired with appropriate accessories. Clothing that reveals too much is also not acceptable for a place of business. In out work environment, clothing should be pressed and never wrinkled, torn dirty of frayed clothing. Any clothing that has words, terms or pictures that may be offensive to other employees is unacceptable.

Slacks, trousers and suits

Slacks that are similar to Dockers and other makes of cotton or synthetic material trousers, flannel trousers that match a suit jacket and a nice looking dresses (sic) are acceptable.

Inappropriate slacks or trousers include any that are too informal. This includes jeans, sweatpants and exercise trousers, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, shorts, overalls leggings, cut downs, cropped and any other spandex or other formfitting trousers such as people wear for exercise or biking.

Skirts, dresses and skirted suits

Dresses, skirts, skirts with jackets, dressy two piece knit suits or sets and skirts that are split at or below the knee are acceptable. Dress and skirt lengths should be at the length at which you can sit comfortably in public and should be consistent with smart appearance.

Shirts, tops, blouses and jackets

Shirts, dress shirts, sweaters, tops and turtlenecks are acceptable attire for work if they are consistent with smart appearance. Most suit jackets or sports coats are also acceptable attire for the office. Inappropriate attire for work includes tank tops, midriff tops, shirts with potentially offensive words, terms, logos, pictures, cartoons or slogans, halter tops, tops with bare shoulders or plunging necklines, golf-type sweatshirts and t-shirts and not suitable business attire.

Shoes and Footwear

Conservative walking shoes, dress shoes, oxfords, boots, flats, dress heels, smart ladies sandals and backless shoes are acceptable for work. Not wearing socks is likely to be inappropriate.

Athletic shoes, tennis shoes, flip-flops, beachwear and other casual footwear are not acceptable in the office, where they are inconsistent with smart appearance.

Accessories and jewellery

Ties must be worn. Scarves, belts and jewellery should be consistent with smart appearance.

Make-up, perfume and cologne

A professional appearance is encouraged and excessive make-up is unprofessional

Hats and Head covering

Hats are inappropriate in the office; head coverings that are required for religious purposes or to honour cultural tradition are acceptable.

Dress down days

Certain days can be declared dress down days. On these days you might want to keep a jacket in your office for the days when a client unexpectedly appears on a dress down day.


If clothing fails to meet these standards, as determined by the employee’s Manager or head of xxxxx department the employee will be asked not to dress in that or similar fashion again. If the problem persists, the employee may be sent home to change clothes and will receive a verbal warning for the first offence.

There are bits of this that sort of make sense but the rest of it is madder than a barrel full of badgers. We love it!

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at: welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

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5 Comments on “1960s dress codes in the 21st century”

  1. Localgov Says:

    Brilliant! To be honest, I don’t even know what most of the things on the list are: oxfords?!

    I recall at least one colleague who would regularly have fallen foul of the no spandex or low cut tops rules…

  2. Big K Says:

    Quality. Surely it is sufficient in any dress code to say dress appropriately for the role you have. In an organisation as big as a local authority I would not expect the directors to dress the same as the youth workers or the bin men. We are all adults so should be able to work it out.

  3. Pete McClymont Says:

    In my last job, in the private sector, the new CEO introduced a new dress code: smart casual – ties not required (in fact, frowned upon), but no cardigans!

    Have been to a meeting where a webbie from another authority was wearing shorts and Bermuda shirt. In November.

    The other day, one of our councillors came in on official business wearing jog bots.

  4. Tim Moore Says:

    I think the seasonal uniform at my nearest borough councils is a sleeveless maxidress!

  5. […] of our own posts and our guest posts are a little lighter hearted in nature, dealing with ridiculous dress codes, badly judged e-mails or ways you can identify when you’ve been in local government too long. […]

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