One of These Things is not like the Other

Finally, I have started to work on the island and I think I’m going to have to baby-step it. I always remind myself that I am a guest here who is trying to blend into the local scene. I have two different cultures that I am in the midst of experiencing and trying to understand – French and Mauritian. And the Mauritian culture is this amazing mix of many other culures all closely living together on this beautiful island -African, Mauritian/Creole, Indian, Middle Eastern and European.

I have been hired, not as an American ex-pat, but as a local resident.

Patience. Respect. Gratitude. Curiosity. Understanding.

I was giving the following document after starting my new job.

The Dress Code…Why?

Professionalism begins with oneself.

Whilst at work, we project images of ourselves, which can make a difference to the [company], to our Clients and to our Careers.

Statistics prove that women who dress well have a better chance to promotion than those who don’t. Taste is, of course, a personal matter, but the rules, which should ideally be self-imposed, are those of hygiene, decency and professionalism. More authority through dressing properly is one way of ensuring that women get the respect and promotion they deserve.

Self-respect is one of the only things, which once lost, is difficult to regain. Respecting oneself ensures respect from peers, colleagues and superiors and in a working environment; it makes sure women get taken as seriously as they want to.

In order to help everyone in the difficult task of finding something to wear every day, a team of women have come up with norms which allow for personal taste and the [company’s] image to be combined into a winner: YOU. We feel that there is the need for women to express their individuality and style. We hope that you find a way to make the most of your best ally. For a long and fruitful career with us: Your Professionalism.

Attached herewith is a proposed guideline for the staff.

1. Trousers should be allowed as long as they are classic in style and respectable. See attached copies, which clearly indicate that trousers are very elegant and project professional image.

2. No jeans and denim materials are allowed.

3. Skirts lengths should start 2 cm above the knee, downwards. Tight fitting and extravagant styles should not be worn. No mini lengths.

4. Colors should be discreet without any bold designs and patterns. Fabrics should be discreet. No flashy flimsy fabrics.

5. Neckline (décolleté) should be sober and decent.

6. Blouses should be decent in designs and fabrics. No tight fitted lycra items which are body-conscious: sleeveless blouses should be decent. The [designated personel member] is the only authority that has the last word on decency.

7. Always choose working style dresses.

8. No fancy style shoes e.g. Spice Girls or Stilettos.

9. Jewelry and accessories should be discreet and not distracting.

10. Everyone should make an effort to look polished.

11. Smell special. Remember that the right scent is always agreeable to your fellow colleagues.

Attached are copies of Women on The Move, which illustrates the acceptable dresses in the [company]. We are sure that each and every one of you will find the dressing style appropriate and very elegant. We are convinced that the above styles of dress code offer a very wide choice of clothing. However as mentioned earlier, the [designated personel member] should be the one to have the last say as to the degree of decency and appropriateness of the above-mentioned items of clothing.”

There is no document given out to men.

I was never given a copy of Women on The Move.
I am trying to start casual jean Fridays.
I will smell special.


About Minnesota Pilgrim

A GenX Xpat who moved from Minnesota to Mauritius to France with her Frenchman lover. Multiple cultures, total bedlam, absolute bliss.
This entry was posted in Mauritius, Work Abroad and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to One of These Things is not like the Other

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh my god. I don’t even know where to start with how bizarre that is. I often smell like slow-roasted pork. Is that the kind of special they’re talking about?

  2. MN Pilgrim says:

    This was sent to me by my friend in Chicago when this post first went up. Thought I’d include it (even if it is a tad late in updating) because it gave me a little chuckle. His office developed their own male dress code and had the VP send it out via email:

    Subject: FW: Male Dress Code for Chicago Office

    Note to all – I’ve noticed some serious deficiencies between the professional attire of our female and male employees. Based on consultation with our females CS Chicago representatives, we have developed the following Male Dress Code. This will take effect immediately:


    Male Team Members –

    We have noticed some completely inappropriate attire going on in the Professional Services males in the Chicago Office and we would like immediate action taken. The following items are NO longer allowed as part of their dress code:

    -Cosby Sweaters
    -Dog/Cat Hair on Any Clothing
    -Sandals with Socks
    -Boxers (visibly showing)
    -Homeless Hoodies (or anything that remotely makes you look homeless)
    -Tight t-shirts (because it’s distracting)
    -Flood Pants
    -Wearing the same jeans many days in a row – um, can we say LAUNDRY?
    -T-shirts that proclaim one’s self worth, backwards (this means you Kaz)
    -Cell phone holders
    -Logo Letterman jackets/coats
    -Sherbet-colored polo shirts (unless one is trying to match the balloons in your office, in which case it’s OK)
    -Red cocktail dresses (when on-site but are encouraged at after hour events)
    -Carrying the Red Eye as a hipster accessory (Gireesh, this means you)
    -Guitar Hero guitars as accessories
    -Zima attire

    As far as grooming goes:

    -Make sure to have all ten nicely manicured fingernails (except for Chid, for whom nine is OK)
    -All haircuts should be administered by a licensed hairdresser (ie no sportcuts or flowbies)
    -Roaming Chest Hair is unacceptable (especially if it’s red)
    Fauxhawks are out

    And for heaven’s sake, smell manly (not like you wife, mistress, dog, or anything else you may have rubbed up against)

    One final point – definitely no dressing up like Ozzy!

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