Really!?! Cowboy Boots Are A Dress Code Violation

9 years ago

What is surprising is that I'm not mortified. But,I'm not.If someone would have told me that a client would ever complain about the way I dress,I would have been incredulous.
When I worked in an office I didn't even wear jeans on Fridays. No sleeveless shirts for me. Most of my skirts hit mid-calf.

Now it's true I have little or no interest in fashion and fashion trends.And it is true I wear the same clothes for decades,I do think I put myself together quite nicely--some say I am even a smart dresser.

Apparently my opinion of myself is not shared by everyone. When a client took me aside recently to tell me that senior management was concerned with my professionalism because of my wardrobe I was at first shocked, and then curious.

It is not an easy thing to tell a 57 -year- old woman that she is dressing unprofessionally.

Before I asked what the problem was I began to mentally click off all the things it could be. Perhaps there was a Panty line issue? Nope, I'm not a form fitting clothes kinda gal. More Chico style for me. See-through skirts? I still wear slips. It couldn't be cleavage- I wear turtlenecks most of the year.

The problem, it turns out, are my beloved boots.

Cowboy BootsTo quote Seth Meyer on Saturday Night Live, "Really!?! The boots?"  I didn't know. I thought they were fun and fanciful. How could I not know that wearing cowboy boots in business is the equivalent of showing up in flip flops?

How did I miss that? I know that cowboy boots were a fashion statement a couple of years ago, what I did not know is that it's inappropriate to do business in cowboy boots.

Who made up that rule and why is it inappropriate? I find it baffling that these beautiful boots say "unprofessional" when a pair of suede fringed boots pass the business attire dress code. Could someone please explain this to me.

Until that moment,I considered my cowboy boots nothing more than fashion boots. They were my signature accessory. My way of saying "I'm creative!"

Obviously, I haven't been paying attention because if I had, I would have known that cowboy boots and work don't mix.

Poshmonkey could have told me. It is right there on her list of Don'ts for Business Dress Etiquette.

Business Dress Code Don'ts

If I had been reading Leslie Haasch back in 2007 I would definitely know that wearing cowboy boots at work is never ever acceptable.

1. Keep the boots away from your work clothes

They have no place in your office. Unless you herd cattle for a living, chances are you would become the laughing stock of the office if you try to charm clients with this little mistake.

Even the folks at Celebrity 1 Stop are advising readers to avoid cowboy boots at work.

5) Work clothes - Do not wear these boots with your work clothes unless if you are a rancher. It is very unprofessional to look if you are wearing a doctor’s white coat or a three-piece suit.

While I understand that many people believe it's unprofessional to wear cowboy boots to work,and I promise I will never ever show up at a business function again wearing my beloved boots, what I don't understand is the WHY behind this rule.

People don't have to like my boots -- it's very clear to me now that quite a few people don't see the same beauty in these boots that I see--  I get that --but what I don't get is why are they unprofessional.

People don't have to like my fashion sense. They can certainly say,'I would never wear those particular boots to work,' but to brand the wearing of a particular style boot as unprofessional, just seems silly to me.

A couple of friends asked me if my feelings were hurt. They are not.I appreciate the courage it took for person who told me -- it is never easy to have to tell someone something that personal. I'm grateful to her. She told me because she cared. She had overheard senior management expressing concern about my boots and she wanted to help me.

She did help me enormously. Had she not spoken up, I would have continued making a very bad impression on people I want to make a good impression.

So I hope you will help me out and explain what it is about this style boot that makes it unacceptable in a work environment that follows a casual business dress code.

Elana blogs about business culture at FunnyBusiness

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