It is 2011 Right?

“A little touch of powder and a little bit of paint makes a girl look just what she aint.” 

The above ditty was quoted to us so often when we were growing up.  My Father loved it and said it with a twinkle in his eye and delight at seeing his girls dressed up to go out.  I have no idea where it came from but I love it and keep it as a memory of my Dad.


via Wikipedia

I read in yesterday’s Guardian Newspaper of a woman being forced to choose between wearing makeup and resigning her job at Harrods.  This iconic London store apparently has a dress code for both men and women employed in the store.  The two-page “ladies” dress code stipulates: “Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly”  There is an after-note in brackets saying  “please take into account the store display lighting which has a ‘washing out’ effect.”

This young woman has been employed in the store for 5 years  three of them part-time while a philosophy, religion and ethics student at King’s College London, and the last two years full-time after completing her masters.  She has received only excellent reports from Managers on her performance at work.

A Harrods spokeswoman said: “All our staff are subject to a dress code which they sign up to on joining the company, which relates to an overall polished appearance. Our records show that discussions with (this employee) concerned a general lack of adherence to the dress code. However, no action was taken and she subsequently decided to leave the business of her own accord with no reference made to dress code.”

However, it is also reported that at a meeting with the floor manager she was told  “You’ve got two options. You wear make up or you leave”.

I have only once been asked to adhere to a dress code and that was in the form of a uniform.  This was in a service industry – a car hire company – and everybody wore the uniform provided by the company.  I didn’t object to this.

Harrods also stipulates for women:

“Hair Trimmed regularly and styled to flatter features. May have subtle highlights or colour but must be natural looking and complementary to skin tone. No regrowth.  Jewellery One earring per ear. Pearls or diamond studs preferred. One ring per hand with exception of wedding & engagement rings. No visible tattoos, sovereigns, mismatched jewellery, scrunchies, large clips or hoop earrings.  Footwear Smart black leather shoes such as court shoes with stiletto or kitten heel.”

I think it is time that Harrods re-wrote their Ladies Dress Code to keep up with the times.  I do think it is going too far in this day and age to insist that a saleswoman wear makeup.  What do you think?

And now this well thought of, well-educated young woman has to find another job where her talents will be recognized even if she doesn’t wear make-up.

What do you think about dress codes, choosing whether to wear make up,  an employer’s right to demand this etc etc?

Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can’t put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you’re doing it from a position of correction.
Kevyn Aucoin,  American make-up artist and photographer. 1962 -2002

Judith Baxter, Platinum Author Registered & Protected

27 responses to “It is 2011 Right?

  1. I understand dress codes but makeup?? It sounds archaic and more than a little sexist but I suppose if she signed the agreement she was consenting to Tje policy.


    • Well I guess so but it does seem a bit hard.
      By the way what does Tje mean? I have seen in on a couple of your replies and originally thought it was a typo.


  2. I’d love to see what they require of their male employees. I bet the list isn’t quite so long. I think it is an employer’s right to insist on cleanliness and neatness and the degree of dressiness. For example, my husband needs to wear a jacket and tie to work every day, even though he can hang his jacket up and put it on if he has a meeting. When I was a teacher, I had to dress professionally, no jeans and athletic shoes, but I could wear nice slacks. Other than that, I think an employer should have no other expectations, especially when it comes to make-up.


    • I agree that the employer should not have expectations about makeup, but here in NZ every employee has a contract and if this girl had such a contract and had signed it acknowledging the dress code, then she really doesn’t have room for complaint. She should instead of leaving, been working towards getting the make-up requirement removed from the dress code.
      Well that’s my take on it.


  3. It is a typo Judith..darn iPad just writes what it wants! LOL


  4. If she’s been working there for 5 years and has been a model employee, I’m sure there is more to this story.


    • Yes Tom and as said to Susan if she had a contract and acknowledged the dress code requirement she really doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.


  5. The dress code at most places I’ve worked mostly had to do with meeting OSHA (occupational safety and health) standards, closed shoes, nothing sleeveless, e.g. A job at a cosmetics counter had more stipulations regarding the uniform, shoes, stockings, earrings, make-up, etc.
    If the employer wants to project a certain image, I would say they have the right to expect employees to adhere to a dress code. It should be clearly stated up front and the job applicant should make the decision whether they wish to abide by it. The employer is the one paying someone to do represent their business.


  6. Oops, didn’t need “do” in the last sentence.


  7. Rules are rules :-P… personally, I’m not a fan of makeup… too often it’s applied far to heavily! Give me natural any day! 😉


  8. Sounds to me like she was way over qualified for the job anyway! But I don’t think its too much to ask for a shop like Harrods to expect its employees to look a bit glossy and ‘well-turned out” – that is part of its brand. And to be honest I don’t have a lot of time for the “I’ve got brains so I don’t need to care what I look like” attitude. Like it or not, the reality is people, and prospective employers, will judge you on your appearance, or at least on the amount of effort you put into it. And you can argue with reality as much as you like and you will lose!


    • I agree Susan. Why did she want to work in the records department with those qualifications? As Tom has said, there probably is a lot more to it than we are being told.


  9. I very rarely wear make-up so that would count me out for a job at Harrods, and although I’m not too keen on flying either apparently I wouldn’t be acceptable as an airhostess either.
    But when you’re desperate for a job you very often sign a contract without giving it enough thought, maybe a little make-up each day would be ok ? maybe I could afford to get my hair cut to be employed ?
    It’s not quite so easy to carry on something not in your natural being day in and day out though as your need for the original employment becomes slightly less desperate.


  10. Love your Dad’s quote!! I would have to agree with others and that the woman is responsible to uphold the contract and company’s brand. My guess is after being there a while, she became apathetic and stopped trying as hard. Kindof like what can happen in a marriage 🙂 . I can think of women who would do so well at that type of job, but I wouldn’t. Like your Dad’s quote, I don’t like so much makeup that without it, you wouldn’t recognize me!


    • Wee I am one of those peole who put their face on first thing in the morning. Guess it’s a product of my working life.
      Thanks for the comment.and you are so right about the marriage thing. You do see that quite often.


  11. I miss Kevyn Aucoin… Ok, my take is she agreed when she signed on to honor Harrod’s dress code; albeit an archaic one… If she was averse to make-up she’d have left 5 years before… I think there’s more to the story… And yes, companies do need to re-evaluate outdated rules. I applied for a sales job years ago at a retailer where women were not allowed to wear pants unless they were managers! Insane… 😉


  12. How ridiculous! I’m afraid that with the exception of service uniforms I’m anti-dress codes for anything, so that should tell you what I think of this crazy situation. It’s time that Harrods moved with the times, but I don’t suppose it’s the only store that has rules like that.


  13. Hey, I saw this story in the newspaper here last night, I’ll try and make a link here …
    “Harrods shop girl”


  14. Pingback: Sacked after refusing to wear make-up | iToD Daily Newspaper

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