Wearing what you want when you want seems like a basic right as a citizen living in the free world. But there can be consequences when you exercise your right to wear what you like if there is a dress code.
The First Amendment guarantees us to the freedom of speech. We are at liberty to stand on our soapbox and speak our minds—like it or not, which is pretty cool. In some ways wearing what we like is exercising our freedom of speech—the same cool factor applies here. Or does it? Certainly you could argue that the freedom to wear what you want is inspired by the First Amendment. However, there are consequences to exercising your freedoms and be prepared to expect a backlash to speaking your mind. And indeed the same backlash can apply to your choice of ensemble.
Considering the wide berth the First Amendment grants us, we don’t always say what we think. Mostly I would assume that we edit ourselves because we do not want to offend our audience. But there are also guidelines we must follow in polite society—guidelines we are raised by or guidelines handed to us by HR.
Can you say whatever you want when you want and wear what you want whenever you want?
Of course, but there are consequences.
Recently, a group of interns were all fired for writing a letter to their division manger protesting the company’s dress code. In their letter they cited the unfairness of the dress code because there was an individual who was allowed to wear sneakers and they were not. It turns out the person who was allowed to wear sneakers was a veteran who had lost her leg. As I said there are consequences to speaking your mind.
There are also consequences to wearing what you want. Some restaurants have dress codes, “No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service”. There are even dress codes that are implicit in party invitations. Would you show up in sneakers and shorts to a wedding at the Four Seasons? Of course not.
We have become a very relaxed society when it comes to matters of dress. And wearing whatever we want when we want seems like an inalienable right. We have become so comfortable and certain of this right that when we are asked to adhere to a dress code we become incensed and infringed upon—even angry.
That anger spilled out on social media recently when United Airlines refused seats to passengers flying on employee passes who were wearing leggings. It appears leggings, flip flops and other assorted looks are verboten when flying on passes.
A blogger was in the boarding area at the time and fired up social media by tweeting the following:
What transpired after this initial tweet was explosive. Celebrities, baristas and bus drivers got involved and called out United Airlines for their archaic and misogynistic dress code. The fact is there are dress codes for every situation, whether implicit or not. I guess the question here is are those dress codes impeding our personal freedoms and should we care that expressing these freedoms might be infringing on others? Perhaps. I know that I consider these questions when I am captured on a long flight high in the air with no place to go except to stay in my seat next to the guy whose big, bare feet are in plain view because he’s wearing flip flops. Then I find myself thinking that those dress codes don’t go far enough. Exercising one’s freedom of speech has it’s consequences, especially at 30,000 feet in the air.