Style

7 Insanely Rigid Dress Codes For Women

As we head into warmer weather, certain businesses and organizations can get pretty particular about what women should be wearing. Here are some of the most famous (and most severe) examples from recent years.

1. The Slate Office

Richard M Lee / Via Shutterstock

On Tuesday, an article on Slate warned young women preparing for summer internships against dressing like “skinterns” — namely, wearing tight, sheer, short outfits in very high heels. Certainly it’s wise for any employee (of any sex) to follow her company’s dress code, but there’s something patronizing about lists like these — do most women need reminding that their underwear is meant to go unseen in the workplace?

2. 2013 Grammys on CBS

Ahead of this year’s Grammy awards, CBS sent out a memo regulating the visibility of women attendees’ bodies, writing: “Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.” The memo was summarily ignored.

3. Badminton World Federation

Just ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, the Badminton World Federation ordered that women athletes must play in skirts or dresses in order to facilitate a “more attractive presentation.” In other words, officials wanted the sport’s women to dress in a more feminine manner to attract more interest in, allegedly, the actual sport being played.

4. Swiss bank UBS AG

In 2010, a Swiss bank unleashed a 43-page dress codeon its employees. The code did include rules for men (including the recommendation that underwear be “of good quality and easily washable”), but the regulations for women were considerably stricter: no “trendy spectacles,” skin colored underwear only, no visible roots, and “light makeup consisting of foundation, mascara and discreet lipstick,” which the bank insisted would “enhance your personality.”

5. American Apparel

In 2010, American Apparel’s internal dress code was famously leaked. Again, the memo provided guidelines for women and men employees, but the former were substantially more specific: hair should be long, bang-less, non-blow-dried, and kept in its natural color; eyebrows should be full; and makeup should be “minimal” with eyeliner, eyeshadow, liquid foundation, and shiny lip gloss all prohibited.

6. Cornell’s Pi Beta Phi Sorority

In 2010, Cornell’s chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority sent around an email dress code that was subsequently leaked. Its author specified certain types of clothing as acceptable in certain weight ranges only (i.e. no satin over 130 pounds), deemed blush “not optional,” and got particular on accessories: “I’m not saying you have to wear a Harry Winston wreath, but I am saying I won’t tolerate any gross plastic shizzzz. I love things on wrists and I demand earrings if your ears are pierced.”

7. Bank of England

A year before the Swiss bank’s dress code manifesto, the Bank of England sent a memo out to its female employees for “Dress For Success Day.” It read: “Look professional, not fashionable; be careful with perfume; always wear a heel of some sort — maximum 2 inches; always wear some sort of makeup — even if it’s just lipstick.” The memo also forbade “ankle chains … white high heels; overstuffed handbags; an overload of rings, and double-pierced ears.”

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