Hide the Divide

Note: Success in the workplace can involve addressing behaviors, habits and personal choices that may
be challenging to discuss and modify. When Worker names are used, these have been changed to protect privacy.

Fashion trends can wreak havoc in the workplace. Some positions dictate very particular dress codes, but for more casual jobs, neat and clean is the order of the day.

Yet, it’s possible to be neat and clean and still be, well . . . . wrong.

More specifically, a person can be neat and clean, but if their clothing is too revealing, it’s entirely inappropriate at work.

I’m not talking about plunging necklines or short skirts. This is more along the line of drooping waistlines, and the gap between waistline and shirt-line.

When baggy, sagging pants became trendy, this problem cropped up when shirts weren’t long enough.

And the issue continues to present itself even when pants aren’t baggy or droopy; it becomes a problem whenever there’s skin showing between those two items of clothing.

Workers are often required to bend over, kneel down, and perform other physical actions that can spotlight gaps between short shirts and low-riding pants. Unfortunately, this often exposes parts of the
body that should never be displayed in the workplace.

Sometimes referred to as “mooning,” exposure of the Great Divide should never take place on the job.

Even plumbers would be wise to follow this guideline.

It might be surprising how often this comes up when evaluating the readiness of potential job-seekers. A co-worker recently reached the end of her patience with the issue, after repeatedly mentioning
inappropriate exposure to a student intern training in a restaurant.

One part of Lisa’s work required bending over to place clean dishes on a low shelf. Her coach had told her several times that her shirt wasn’t long enough to cover the Great Divide when she performed that
duty. Lisa’s response had been conciliatory, but she must have forgotten about the problem when she next dressed for work, because it kept happening.

One day Lisa’s supervisor cornered her coach by the entrance to the storage room. “I’ve seen Lisa’s butt crack too many times. This has got to stop.”

“Uh-oh. I’ve talked to her about it. More than once.”

“It’s got to change. We can’t have that kind of scenery. It’s indecent.”

Lisa’s coach felt certain the young lady didn’t fully understand what she was displaying in the restaurant. She slipped her phone into a pocket, and when Lisa bent to put away glasses on a low shelf, her coach snapped a photo of what anyone nearby could see.

When she showed Lisa the photo a few minutes later in a back corner of the kitchen, Lisa gasped and began hitching up her pants, tightening her belt and pulling down her shirt.

“Doesn’t matter how much you pull up your pants and cinch that belt, when your shirt’s too short, the
same thing is going to keep happening.”

Lisa’s face flushed bright red, and her coach made a production of deleting the photo in Lisa’s presence. The point was not to have a compromising photo of a student intern, but rather to help her learn the importance of dressing appropriately at work.

The young lady said it was not necessary for her coach to speak with her parents about helping her get longer shirts to wear before her next workday, and Lisa’s coach sincerely hoped it was true. Still, she took the precaution of discussing the matter with Lisa’s dad when she left the jobsite and spotted him at his place of business next to the restaurant.

“Oh, we’ve talked about that,” said Dad. “Lisa’s very self-conscious, so I can’t imagine why that would still be happening.”

“Well, we’re done talking about it. She has to have longer shirts to wear to work before she comes in again.”

That might seem like a hard line to take, but sometimes it’s the only way to get the important things done. And getting the important things done is the only way to make certain the student learns how to keep a job she worked hard to master.

So here’s to hoping the next time Lisa bends down to stow those glasses, the Great Divide will be demurely covered by a shirt of the appropriate length.

Dressing modestly is so much more than a vital part of learning how to hold a job; from some perspectives, and especially in certain cases, it truly falls into the realm of public service.

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