It's most often women who are the focus of dress codes at workplaces and schools. There are often length requirements for skirts, for example. Sometimes women aren't allowed to wear spaghetti straps or tight pants, either. Women are policed and asked to change because of things as seemingly harmless as an exposed collarbone.
But in the summer, it's not just women who are the focus of professional dress codes — men are as well. Of course, we're talking about the still-heated discussion surrounding whether or not it's really OK for men men to wear shorts to work.
Unbeknownst to Joey Barge of Buckinghamshire, England, on Monday, he reignited this conversation on Twitter when he sent out a tweet pondering just that. "If women can wear skirts/dresses at work, can I wear smart shorts like so?" he wrote, posting a picture of himself behind the wheel of his car in navy blue shorts.
Thirty minutes later, he had his answer: No.
"Nope. Just been sent home from work," he tweeted.
And so Barge's wheels started turning. If shorts weren't OK for men, but dresses and skirts certainly were for women, what would happen if he, a man, showed up in a dress?
Shortly after he announced that he had been kicked out of work, Barge posted a picture of himself now in a pink and black dress.
"What looks better?" he asked his followers.
Hundreds of people were keeping an eye on Barge's Twitter, and cheering him for having the nerve to wear a dress to work in order to prove a point about the gendered standards embedded in many a work dress code. Later he found out, his move may have catalyzed a change.
Hours after Barge showed up to work in a dress, he received an email from his workplace, a call center, regarding the dress code.
"Due to the extremely warm temperature currently, it has been agreed that ... the gentleman in the office are permitted to wear 3/4 length shorts," the email read, along with stipulations for which colors of fabric would be acceptable.
Maybe it was Barge in that dress that made this workplace realize the hidden double standards in its own dress code, or maybe it was common sense.