And Then I Made the Official Dress Code of HPL “Not Dirty”

Being in charge of a library is not nonstop fun all day.

But it’s pretty fun.

For instance, a few months ago, I told the staff that my dress code requirement was “not dirty.” So, in other words, I don’t care if my colleagues wear jeans or t-shirts or whatever, as long as they’re clean. This change (jeans and t-shirts were previously not allowed) was not without controversy, but I let it stand, for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, I employ intelligent and capable adults who can pick out their own clothes without my assistance. Also, library work can be physically demanding, and sometimes it’s dirty. Books are very dusty, and, of course, we let the public in the building. Sometimes the public does unfortunate things that we have to clean up. In the face of all this, I feel like the least I can do is give staff some latitude with what they wear to work.  And, I have to confess, it makes me happy in my heart every time I see one of the staff running around the building in jeans. It’s not because I like jeans (personally, I’m more comfortable in a skirt and my boots that mean business); it’s because I think, That person’s comfortable right now. No one’s worn their pajamas or anything crazy to work yet. Chaos has not ensued. Some of the staff wear jeans that are arguably classier than some of my dresses.

I really enjoy it when my crazy ideas work out.


  1. tonderdo
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I wish…I have a master’s degree & I’m not allowed to pick my clothes or be trusted with final exams any more. Losing my weekend to grading sucks even if they pay me, I will wear jeans though, maybe pajamas would make my point better.

  2. adrienne
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, dude. Your work is noble, though your work environment can suck.

  3. Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    This is great, Adrienne. I was so frustrated when my library decreed a dress code for our branch only that said “No jeans, not even black jeans, not even if you’re a children’s librarian who gets on her knees to demonstrate ‘Tommy Thumbs Up’ during the young toddler program.” I wouldn’t be surprised if your staff brought you pizza and sang, “For she’s a jolly good fellow.”

  4. Terri
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Long ago, I thought it was a hilarious prank to leave a “draft” dress code policy on the RPL staff copier. Thank goodness I’ve grown up.

  5. Xandi
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I remember a friend that got a job with a “women must wear skirts/dresses and pantyhose” dress code…I could never work someplace that had a requirement like that, even though she made more money than any of us (and probably still does)I must be able to wear clothes that I can express myself practically in. Just in case I have to pick up poop.

  6. adrienne
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Farida, Having spent a fair amount of time on the floor doing storytime, I appreciate being able to wear clothes that are both comfortable and easy to wash.

    Terri, Well, now that you mention that, it *is* kind of funny.

    Xandi, So true.

  7. Amy
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I had my first poo cleaning up incident recently…fortunately our dress code is pretty relaxed, so I didn’t have to clean poo while wearing a pantsuit.

  8. Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    My library follows our city dress code, which says no jeans except on Fridays. Sometimes I appreciate having to make a tiny bit more effort in my outfits, but it always cracks me up that we can wear jeans on Fridays, but not over the weekend (when the rest of the city offices are closed and, I assume, staff are at home in their jeans and pjs, while us library folk return to our slacks and skirts and carry on).

  9. adrienne
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Amy, Sorry, dude. It happens to all of us eventually. No one who’s not a librarian would understand why when we get together, the conversation eventually turns to people swapping stories about the worst mess they’ve cleaned up. But that’s libraries.

    Jess, I often wish I could wear my PJs to work. Sigh.

  10. anne
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Good show, adrienne! Jeans are perfect for library work. All the up and down/back and forth, lift and carry, plunge and mop…
    and one can look just as neat and approachable in jeans as in any other form of dress.
    (we can wear jeans as long as they don’t have tears/holes/patching, and Tshirts as long as they are “work appropriate”)

  11. Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I quite agree, Anne. Your library has a sensible policy.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *