Saturday, June 13, 2015

Reader Question: Bending Workplace Dress Codes

Dress Codes
Hi, Miss Mary Rose,
I am writing to ask you for your advice. I am part of the Gothic Subculture, while I am happy I am, I Volunteer for a library where I have to wear a t shirt everyday. Is there any way I can incorporate the goth look without breaking the dress code for the volunteers? Thanks
Hi Mirith! 

Dress codes can be kind of a pain to work around, especially if you have a uniform of sorts (I assume by t-shirt you mean one provided by the library and not just any t-shirt?) The best way to start is to familiarize yourself with your limitations. If you were given a pamphlet or something that outlines the rules, that's a good thing to familiarize yourself with. If not, speak to your supervisor and ask questions. Some common dress codes might regard high heels, religious iconography, heavy makeup, skirt lengths, facial piercings, covering tattoos, or something similar.

The reason I say this is that having to wear a specific shirt is still pretty flexible as far as dress codes go. You can wear black jeans or trousers with that, or a pretty black skirt. Your shoes can also be a point of gothy interest, though some more than others (creepers or Docs are gothy but still pretty work appropriate while Demonia platforms might not be.)

Generally speaking you can add a Goth-y look to most outfits with accessories. Add bracelets, cuffs, necklaces, hair accessories, or earrings that will Goth up your look. Subtle bat earrings might not be noticed by everyone, but you'll know that they're there adding a little bit of spook to your day. Even if no one notices that you're wearing cute striped socks, you will and it'll help you feel more connected to your Goth side.

If you carry a bag to your work you can add some Goth there as well. Band patches on a fabric backpack, a Gothy tote bag, an interesting purse, etc. are all ways to spook up your outfit that you can then store during the day to keep within your dress code. Whatever you carry in your bag can also be little decorations you might enjoy to add a Goth aspect to your day. If you carry a compact, decorate it with Goth appropriate stickers. If you have to have an umbrella, make it a spider webbed one. Use a Goth themed phone case. Add a Goth keychain or something to your bag.

If all else fails, though, just change your clothes when you get home from volunteering! It's not the end of the world if you can't dress to your spooky heart's content at all hours of the day, so just do it when you can. It won't make you any less of a Goth, promise.

Readers, what are your tips for dressing Goth when you have a dress code?


  1. If it's just the t shirt, then wear it with whatever you want. If it's an ugly loose shirt, sew it in and then wear whatever you want with it. Otherwise just follow the code unless you don't care about the job

    1. I had a huge ugly work shirt when I was an employee at a department store. Every girl there looked preggers. I took the shirt home one night, made the sleeves shorter, took like seven inches in, and it fit like a regular shirt. Everyone was so jealous lol, but more importantly I was comfortable.

  2. I agree with the above comment: if you care about the job, just follow its dress code. I have worked at jobs with strict dress codes and uniforms for years (and still do--hello, company-issued scrubs and non-slip sneakers everyday). Conformity sucks, but sometimes you just have to suck it up because the pay, benefits or experience is worth more to you in the long run than something as shallow as appearance.