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28 July 2006

Bare Breasts

Get people's attention. We'll you're reading this aren't you? Exposing the issue further, it's clear that breasts help to sell music, magazines and of course have been somewhat visible than usual lately given the exceptionally hot weather that the UK and US have been enjoying.

Which brings me to the point. It's seen as being perfectly acceptable in much of Western society (unless you happen to be visiting the Vatican, no bare flesh there) for women to show some cleavage. And why not? People should be allowed to dress how they please, especially in this weather it makes perfect sense. Also there's not much more being displayed in the breast area than you might see with a typical swimsuit and no one bothers about that. Even more appropriate if due to power outages your air conditioning is off.

No one seems to mind too much how women dress in the summer, so long as it's legal.

That being the case, if no one cares much what women are wearing, why does everyone then take such an interest in what men are wearing?

We seem to still require in many workplaces that men wear a shirt and tie although thankfully in this hot weather most offices are showing some common sense. Apart from that though, many workplaces still forbid men from wearing t-shirts. Whilst short skirts are acceptable for women, any shorts at all for men are still a definite no no.

Why is it considered OK for women to go around exposed and dressed appropriate for the weather and of course society is happy to accept this, yet at the same time the HR and personnel depts are busy writing memos and long manuals regarding how men must always have a collar on in order to be dressed in an acceptable way.

You might think there was sexism here, after all many men probably like the way women dress in summer and then set the rules accordingly.

However, when you consider that most HR depts are staffed mainly by women, I wonder if this is really the case.

Perhaps we just need less rules and more common sense. Managing a business well is about flexibility, and a flexible attitude towards dress would certainly seem to cover everything from a snowstorm to a prolonged heatwave. Sometimes it's appropriate to wear a suit, but as a cultural icon its meaning is shifting - certainly with no dress code at Google, there's a lesson there in simplicity and flexibility which would cut down on a lot of work for HR. As one of the world's top brands, the suitless image has done them no harm.

Flexibility and Simplicity. I guess the answer to both my points is staring you in the face. If you haven't seen the naked truth yet, then keep looking.

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