Most every working adult knows the struggle of trying to dress appropriately for the office during the hot, hot heat of summertime. You don’t want to subject your coworkers to seeing you sweat profusely, but you likely have “work appropriate wear” you need to abide by. After one call center worker in Britain was sent home for wearing shorts, he followed the women’s dress code instead and returned to work in a dress.
Joey Barge, a 20-year-old from Buckinghamshire, UK, wanted to dress for the weather and wore shorts to work. He posted a photo on Twitter of his work wear and said, “If women can wear skirts/dresses at work can I wear smart shorts like so?" However, he posted an update soon after saying that he’d been sent home because he violated dress code. In an interview with Mail Online, Barge said, “I got sent home and told to change into appropriate clothing but it said females could wear dresses so hey ho!” Thus, he decided to wear a dress.
Side note: all humans should experience the easy, breezy crotchal freedom that is wearing a dress. Especially in the heat of summer and extra-especially when it’s in defiance of dumb, unrealistic dress codes.
While Barge wasn’t told the dress violated the code, it did spur the company to amend their summer dress policies. “They said it was a bit too colourful and asked if I wanted to go home and change because they were letting us wear shorts because of my 'protest' — but I said I was happy to stay,” Barge said.
Barge joins the company of many people, mostly women, before him who have stood up to unfair outfit policies. Recently, a high school student in New Jersey took a dig at her school’s dress code with a caption under her yearbook photo that read: “I’m sorry, did my shoulders distract you from reading this quote?” Earlier this year, women across the country tweeted how to “dress like a woman” in the workplace after reports that Donald Trump asked female staffers to dress as such.
Dress code policies, both in educational and professional settings, often disproportionately affect women and students who are transgender. While dress codes may have the intention of maintaining a "professional" environment, they often are enforced in a way that relies on societal expectations of what is and is not for a person to wear based on their gender. Essentially, the way women’s outfits and bodies are policies is usually rooted in sexism and works to perpetuate a sexist culture.
While Barge's act may seem lighthearted, students who are transgender have been punished for wearing a dress to school before. These dress code double standard even spurred one Kentucky student in 2015 to make a documentary on sexist dress codes, featuring interviews with her classmates and exploring the negative effects these codes have on students’ self esteem.
Barge’s act of defiance, while small, should be significant in the way we talk about who can wear what. At the very least, it is evidence of the fact that everyone should be free to dress comfortably with the hope that someday everyone will be free to dress however they damn well please.