“Say No More, Boss”: Boss Tells This Guy To Follow The Dress Code To The Book, He Maliciously Complies
Dress codes are usually a very divisive topic—whether we’re talking about school uniforms or (in this particular case) how to dress at the workplace. We’ll be honest, we think that it’s up to everyone to decide what works best for them, whether they want to put on a snazzy suit every morning or go to work in a hoodie. Unfortunately, not everyone is as open to the idea of employee freedom when it comes to their sartorial decisions.
Redditor u/bear-mc, who works at an office that sells bulk goods to businesses, used to never have a problem wearing shorts whenever it was hot. All of that changed when he got a new boss who was a pedant through and through. Everything had to be done exactly as they wanted. To the letter. No exceptions.
Things came to a head when the boss threatened to fire the employee if they ever broke the dress code again. That’s when the redditor came up with a cunning plan to get back at the overly angry boss. A plan worthy of applause from the r/MaliciousCompliance subreddit. Read on for the full story of sweet, sweet revenge.
Bored Panda reached out to workplace expert Lynn Taylor and she was kind enough to share her insights into the situation with dress codes at work in 2022, as well as how to deal with overly pedantic and micromanaging bosses. Lynn is the author of ‘Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant’ and the CEO of the fashion brand ‘Behind the Buckle.’
According to Lynn, the significance of dress codes has dwindled recently as many employees still work from home at least part-time. However, those who still push the limits too much can find themselves angering management. “The pandemic shifted priorities for many operations, with a greater focus on bottom-line productivity. Where people sit, work hours and apparel naturally became more trivial. Executives also realized that comfortable clothes worn during the pandemic made them more productive and comfortable, too,” she told us that plenty of corporations have adapted to the changes since the start of the pandemic over two years ago.
What some of us might think of as business casual clothing would have raised a lot of eyebrows in the corporate world just a couple of decades ago. “20 years ago, wearing jeans to work was taboo in many larger corporations, except for a ‘casual day,’ largely an unfamiliar term today for most millennials and Gen Z. Now jeans have become more of the corporate uniform,” Lynn said. Read on for our full interview with the workplace expert and author.
It makes a lot of sense for men to wear shorts when it’s hot. However, some bosses are incredibly strict and don’t allow them
Image credits: Songwut Hayee-I
One boss threatened to fire an employee because they broke the dress code. However, the story took an unexpected twist
Image credits: Lewis Ashton
Redditor u/bear-mc realized that the company actually did have a specific rule about not wearing shorts. So, in the past, his other bosses would simply use common sense when it came to wearing shorts during heatwaves. However, this new superior was very technical and thought the rules as written were sacred.
So the only way to get them to stop their crusade against common sense was to beat them at their own game. That’s when the redditor realized that there wasn’t a rule that disallowed men from wearing skirts or kilts. And that’s when they decided to risk it all and come into work in a striking pink business outfit.
The boss was, naturally, flabbergasted and raged at the employee. Once again they threatened to fire him. But their overt anger quickly turned to quiet frustration when they were told to read the employee handbook. Sure, shorts were technically not allowed. But nobody ever said that a man couldn’t wear a kilt or a skirt (with knee-high socks and a matching shirt, of course).
The employee got his revenge, the boss (hopefully) learned his lesson, and the redditors from r/MaliciousCompliance shared their opinions and experiences at work when it came to clothing. At the end of the day, giving employees a bit of freedom when it comes to dressing how they prefer might be a good thing. Employees can be more creative when they’re not restricted by too many rules. What’s more, you’d be prioritizing your workers’ comfort which is always a plus.
Since jeans are now so ubiquitous in the modern office, it’s actually all the other pieces of clothing that set the tone of the overall outfit. “Jeans are often accompanied by proper, presentable shirts and tops,” workplace expert Lynn told Bored Panda. “And because of their pervasiveness—more ancillary wardrobe items, such as blazers, accessories (shoes and belts), now assume greater importance in upgrading one’s professional appearance.”
Lynn said that companies still want to leave a positive impression on their clients: “The caveat is that when people congregate in the office or with clients, few companies will have an ‘anything goes,’ policy. While dress codes have become significantly more relaxed at all levels, those who push the limit will likely be admonished. Companies are still enforcing some level of dress code decorum.”
So something like beachwear and flip-flops won’t be acceptable in most professional services firms or mainstream corporate America. However, that kind of super-relaxed clothing might find room in smaller businesses. Provided that there aren’t any clients around in person.
Bored Panda was also interested to get Lynn’s take on how to manage bosses who take the rules very literally and love controlling their subordinates. She pointed out that knowledge is power. And once you get to know your boss, their aims, strengths, and weaknesses, you can learn how to counter their behavior.
“My book, ‘Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,’ explains that you first need to know where a boss is coming from when they exhibit this behavior. For example, bosses may be concerned about their superiors and their own career… and what might occur if they don’t deploy certain rules and regulations. They may also have strong feelings on workplace issues and feel it is their prerogative to enforce them,” the workplace expert told us.
“Managing up is a skill that will never go out of style and always be a helpful career tool, as you move from one job to the next. For example, in this scenario, employees can be the voice of reason; show the pros and cons of a decision, and gather support from other colleagues. There is power in numbers when trying to shift a boss’s perspective, especially if the rationale is well documented and persuasive,” she explained to Bored Panda.
Lynn stressed that diplomacy and timing the discussion with your manager are critical when it comes to sensitive issues.
This isn’t the only time that Bored Panda has written about dress codes. We’ve previously looked at how sexist some dress codes are in schools, as well as how some gym employees can make their clients feel ashamed for what they wear.
In short, dress codes are a very hot topic pretty much everywhere, not just in the workplace. And the common thread we’ve seen everywhere is that following the rules to the letter means that a lot of nuances are lost and can lead to people getting very hurt, emotionally. The rules are there for a reason, but they shouldn’t be followed blindly, without realizing that they affect real live human beings with their own thoughts, feelings, opinions, needs, and fashion senses.
Actress and Screenwriter Nicole Ciravolo told Bored Panda previously that she was treated very poorly as a high school student by the faculty when it came to the dress code. “I often felt shamed by female faculty and sexualized by male faculty,” she said.
In Nicole’s opinion, dress codes, at least in schools, are enforced for the benefit of the faculty, not the students.
“They often have elements of racism and sexism disguised as ‘professional’ (i.e. sagging pants or no bra straps showing). In my own experience, skirt/shorts length or bra straps don’t distract other students but instead the teachers. It’s sickening to think back to being a 15-year-old minor and getting sent to the office by a man in his sixties because my shorts made him uncomfortable. Those types of people should not be teaching minors.”
Have you ever been in a situation where your boss let you have it for what you wore to work, dear Pandas? What do you think of mandatory dress codes in general? Share your thoughts in the comments.