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The question - Dress codes


The BBC caused a stir last week, when its camera crew turned up at Royal Ascot resplendent in jeans and Tshirts. A swift word from the Queen and they were sent packing, much to the Beeb's embarrassment.

So we ask: In the modern construction industry, do dress codes matter? And has your work attire ever been called into question?

During my year on site, at home in all the muck, concrete and the general earthy 'craic', the resident engineer taught me a very effective lesson.

Once a month there was a progress meeting at head office which, being a lowly assistant RE, I was never invited to. However, on one occasion, after landing in the site office looking even more dishevelled and unkempt than normal, the RE announced that I was to go to the meeting.

It was only then I realised that my appearance would not enhance my future career and asked if I could go home to change. The reply was a cutting: 'no matter where you are working, always ensure you are satisfied enough with your appearance to be able to meet with your MD.'

Some of the main gripes in our industry are poor pay and low public esteem. In order to improve this we need to look the part. This may not always be Versace suits but we should always be clean, well groomed and presentable. And I'm not telling you if I was allowed home!

Charlie Hutchison, 38, safety advisor, Northern Ireland

Yes! Comments that I'm on holiday if I turn up to the office without a tie are still made. But that is the ethos in local government.

I do feel dress codes are still relevant to our lifestyles, with 'smart casuals' taking over some elements of the normal 'uniform' at lower key functions. But T-shirts and jeans would never be appropriate for front line duties at an occasion such as Ascot, and I am not even a royalist.

Ian Wright, 58, senior engineer, Norfolk

I do not like to wear a tie which, although there is no strict dress code, is favoured by most male members of staff. We often have dress down Fridays which is nice.

But as a special treat to mark last week's result, we should all have a special 'dress as your favourite Brazilian day.'

Martin Lorimer, 43, graduate engineer, Perth

Tut Tut. Poor old Auntie must be beginning to lose her marbles.

Dress codes are all about anonymity - blending in - to ensure that everyone 'knows their place'. For the camera crew to have gone back and put on morning dress and toppers merely compounded the insult. To have been properly dressed they should have been wearing footman's attire, they are, after all, mere servants.

Everyone knows that only pop stars and footballers are permitted to wear jeans (designer, of course). Anyway, only the riders are permitted to wear colours as 'honorary' gentleman while racing or after a win, and pop stars and footballers certainly aren't gentlemen. Civil engineers have no place at Royal Ascot. Simple really!

Philip Richards, 65, retiring next week, London

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