Newsweek’s New Dress Code: Dress for success… or lose your job!

When I first heard Newsweek employees will now be subjected to a company dress code, my first thought was, “Maybe that’s not a bad idea.”.

Anyone who works in a newsroom will tell you at times the fashion limits are tested. My former colleagues will attest that I spent the last few years on the job wrapped in a gray fleece blanket. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall – I wore that blanket almost every day. I walked around the office with it on as if it were my Superhero cape. I wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement. Our office space was near the studio which required cooler temperatures.

The gray blanket I regularly wore at work.

The gray blanket I regularly wore at work.

Around the newsroom jeans and chinos for the most part are the uniform of choice. Some colleagues make an effort which I appreciate but most anyone wearing a suit is either on-air talent, part of upper management or headed off on a job interview. This casual look has nothing to do with disrespect for the profession. It’s the result of long hours, odd shifts and the possibility of being sent into the field at a moment’s notice to cover a story.

The new dress code at Newsweek is part of changes being implemented by the publication’s new owner IBT Media. Politico first reported the story and obtained a copy of “The International Business Times Employee Handbook”.

A quick perusal of the IBT dress code shows bare midriffs, halter tops, micro mini-skirts and flip-flops are not allowed. That seems reasonable. I personally find flip-flops in the office annoying – not so much the look, but that constant click-clack is grating when a deadline for a story is fast approaching.

It’s not only flip-flops on the “Fashion Don’t” list. All open toe sandals are now forbidden… and denim jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. I don’t know about you but right now I’m looking at a naked newsroom.

The part of the dress code that really loses me has to do with hair. It reads:

 … well-groomed, business style hair of natural color is required…

Whoa – what’s that? Natural color? Geez, I hope that employee drug urine test doesn’t include an exam to see if the carpet matches the drapes! But it’s this section of the hair rules that would really get me in trouble:

 Hair should be clean, combed and neatly trimmed or arranged. Shaggy, messy, and neglected hair is not permissible regardless of length.

Great, if I worked at Newsweek I would have to call in sick anytime the humidity is over 70% to spare myself the humiliation of being sent home because of a bad hair day. The dress code concludes with this final warning:

Inappropriately dressed employees will be asked to return home to change into suitable clothing… Any employee who repeatedly violates this policy will be subject to progressive disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay and/or discharge.

I think Oscar Madison just turned over in his grave.


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