What NOT to wear

Apr 30 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Maxine Kelly, a 36-year-old lawyer, received a memo last summer containing some pretty specific instructions about was– and wasn’t – considered to be suitable dress for female staff. These included skirts worn above the knee, low cut tops and garments which exposed the midriff, visible tattoos and body piercings.

When she objected, she claims she was fired (by her female boss) and is taking her former employers to court and suing them for £250,000 for unfair dismissal.

Writing in the Scotsman newspaper, Helen Martin expresses what many now feel about such cases and what she terms “the last vestiges of twisted feminism in the workplace”

. . . . it transpires Maxine Kelly wasn’t being made to dress like Mary Poppins. In fact, the dress code at her law firm wasn’t archaic at all.

Apparently she feels that £55,000-a-year lawyers should be allowed to wear short skirts, low-cut blouses, crop tops, backless numbers, leggings, body piercings and tattoos, and that to prevent them from doing so is "an affront" to women and "showing scant regard" for their rights.

What is truly alarming is that courts and employment tribunals will actually waste their time on this nonsense, instead of telling the silly little madam to grow up and stop seeking attention.

Like most people, I’d have apoplexy if the solicitor handling my house purchase, legal dispute, or whatever, turned up in a backless crop-top with a ring through her nose and a tattoo on her ankle. You can "buy" a solicitor for an hour or a hooker for an hour, but it’s nice to be able to tell the difference.

Others in need some some guidance on what to wear could do worse than follow this advice from the Evening Standard's Laura Craik.

Now, Ms Kelly might have looked like an Essex girl on the pull. Equally, she may have looked like Gisele on the Marc Jacobs catwalk. The point is, where do you draw the line between suitable or not-for-the-office wear, especially when it's hot?