As the recent “Pretty Woman” dress code issue at a North Dakota high school stirs national controversy, I can’t help but stress the need for awareness of a particular website that I often share with clients and friends: Dress Code Rules (www.dresscoderules.com). 

While far from high school age, many of us recognize that the need to dress appropriately is a fact of business, a matter of etiquette, and often of protocol.  I have written on this topic before (12/19/11 Black Tie Optional is not an option and 10/20/11 What are you wearing?), and while I continue to espouse that dress is highly personal and flexible, certain parameters should be allowed to exist, should be taught, and should be followed. 

At one point in sartorial history, dress was referred to as “custom” and, with Halloween around the corner, this idea that you dress in a particular way for a particular situation or to create a distinctive look and feel is very relevant, both in every day life and at events.  In order to achieve a certain mood —from a professional work environment, to a somber funeral, to a festive Latin dance party —your dress, that is, your costume will be dramatically different.   Thank goodness closet size has grown over the past 50 years!     

In a relatively short time, we have abandoned The Tea Dress, The Morning Dress, The Black Tie and The White Tie with proper gloves, shoes and hats.  However, without guidelines, how do we help people navigate the overwhelming choices of attire and the cult of personal branding, and how do we help prevent the unintended consequences of fashion mishaps.  This is where Dress Code Rules comes in handy.  It is a great resource for HR departments, professionals of all ages, and event goers and event planners.  The site is still developing and the genius behind it is working feverishly to update it with exciting new features. Check back often.  I am particularly thrilled with the interactive nature of the site —take a photo of a wardrobe faux pass, settle an argument over what to wear, and ask for advice — DCR is your go-to site.

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