This question is about dress code.

It seems that dress code is tightly related to Workspace topic as it directly affects one's professional setting.

However, many members downvote the question due to off-topic. There's also a close flag.

Also, Etiquette proposal is about at 50% commitment, and such questions may be on-topic there.

Should dress code and outfit be on-topic here on Workplace?

  • 10
    The Etiquette proposal is surely irrelevant. Would we close questions as off-topic because they would be covered by some mythical sister-site that may exist some time in the future? I'm not sure I can keep up with all the proposals on Area51.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:48
  • @Chad: I wasn't suggesting that an absence of a home means that we should give it a home. I was suggesting that if it fits here, we shouldn't argue that maybe it'll be MORE on-topic on a site that doesn't exist yet.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 14:47
  • 3
    @Chad: I know there is some disagreement. I'm just saying that the potential future existence of Etiquette is irrelevant to whether it's on-topic here. I voted to reopen when it was closed as off-topic, but I do agree with your argument that it's too-localised, so I left the debate and I'm not voting again. I am disappointed that Rarity decided to unilaterally make that decision though.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 14:59
  • @Chad: I suspect it would be too-localised there as well. But that's not the point. Look at it this way: Would you throw all questions about Scrum off Project Management because this proposal was made in the last 24 hours? area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/47521/agile-development
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:16
  • @pdr - No but scrum is squarely in project management focus. Social events tangential to work(in that several people from your workplace received invitations to the same event but it is not an event for your workplace) are not squarely in the focus of the workplace. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:22
  • @Chad: On that point there is disagreement, which has been commented on throughout this thread. The point is that the existence of an Etiquette proposal does not and should not affect either opinion, just like the existence of an Agile Development proposal would not affect a decision on whether Scrum was currently in the purview of Project Management.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:36
  • @PDR - Instead of PM how about stack overflow... Scrum is tangental to SO Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:38
  • @Chad: Agree, and likewise, the existence of Agile Development would not affect my opinion on that. You are entitled to your opinion that work-related social events are tangential to The Workplace. I am entitled to my opinion that they're not. I'm certainly not trying to convince you I'm right, I'm trying to say that the Etiquette proposal does not strengthen (or weaken) your case.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:42
  • @PDR - I do not think it is an argument that it does not belong here because... it is the argument that it does belong there. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:43
  • @Chad: Sorry, lost me.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:52
  • @Chad: As a matter of interest, how exactly is this different from the dinner dress-code question, in terms of being off-or-on-topic (not in terms of being localised)? workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/6261/… The event is not a work event, though it is work-related, and the question would firmly fall into Etiquette, if Etiquette existed.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 13:11
  • @pdr - Ask someone else... I dont care Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 14:21

4 Answers 4


Yes I think it should be on-topic providing the question deals with the dress code itself, and not the etiquette of when to use it outside of the workplace.

For example, asking what the dress code would be of a particular type of social event is off-topic, however asking what the dress code "business casual" means should be on-topic.

As I said in the question you linked,

I wouldn't close a question as off-topic just because someone was asking what "business casual" was for a social event instead of an interview, and wouldn't close a question that asked what the dress code "Penguins" meant for an interview.

Most workplaces have a dress code, and the phrase "dress code" is almost always used in relation to the workplace, so I think questions about dress codes themselves are completely on-topic here.

The etiquette of when or how to use a dress code on the other hand, may not be on-topic unless the question is also related to the workplace.

Edit: To address the specific question mentioned, no I don't think it's off-topic because it's a question about dress-code, but I do think it could be considered too localized because that dress code doesn't exist, so it is very unlikely another user will ever have the same question.

  • This is about a social event unrelated to work. We have to define scope and this is out of scope. Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 17:37
  • @Chad Would you close "What is business-casual?" as off-topic if it was asked because the OP was going to a social event that specified "business-casual" in the invitation? I wouldn't. If the only thing the OP has to do the question for you to think it's allowed is to specify "work event" instead of "event", then I think you're focusing on the wrong part of the question.
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 17:43
  • 1
    @Chad for people working in an embassy this is probably a fairly legitimate "workplace" type issue.
    – enderland
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 18:36
  • 3
    I agree with this in theory, but I don't think this is actually relevant to the problem with this question, as I've noted in chat. Since this isn't a formally defined thing it's too localized whether dress codes are on topic or not.
    – Rarity
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 19:19
  • 2
    Business casual is a workplace definition. If the question was I have been invited to a social function with a business casual dress code is that the same as work place business casual then yes I would Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 20:00
  • So, if the question was edited from something like "informal meeting with Royal family" to "business-related meeting with Royal family", it would be on-topic? Note, the answers and the whole spirit of the question would not change any way. And further visitors who attend Royal events find it useful to themselves. Correct? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 3:27
  • I'd suggest if the invitation came about through the posters professional role, its a workplace issue. If not, its a social one. The OP is confused by the dress code, and is asking if this is like "black tie", or "formal", or perhaps a translation of a commonly used term in Belgium. While it is localised as it refers to a specific event, answers could be structured to provide general advice for work related "events" with dress codes.
    – GuyM
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 21:08
  • @Rachel, Why is the question still closed?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 14:30
  • @Pacerier It got reopened, however upon further information from the OP it was decided such a question was too-localized and re-closed by a moderator. My answer here is a rather generic one addressing questions about dress codes, however as I said in my footnote at the end I do agree that this question is too-localized since it is about a made-up "dress code", so am fine with it being closed.
    – Rachel
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 14:54

The problem with the question is not topicality; dress code questions requiring familiarity with the workplace are on topic here.

The problem is there just isn't such a thing as "royal touch dress code". It's not a thing. That's the definition of Too Localized:

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

Will this question help future visitors? No. Only people doing to this specific event could benefit from this particular knowledge because the phrase is made up. The meaning is of course implicit, but divining the meaning behind vague, non-workplace related phrases isn't really a great question either.

Take this example question:

I have been invited to a Chili Tuesday at work. What is Chili Tuesday? Will there be Chili or am I expected to provide chili? Is it a pun, implying the weather is chilly as well? Should I bring a coat?

No one can answer this beyond someone at that specific workplace; further, no one outside that specific workplace would benefit from the answer. Even worse, potentially infinite questions of this form can be asked...on any topic. Q: How do you prepare Creme de la creme western yogurt? A: You can't, I made it up. This is not a site for guessing games and divination.

What is the value of questions where the only reasonable answer is "We have no idea, ask your boss/secretary/whatever sent the message in the first place"? Further, what is the value of potentially infinite questions where that's the only reasonable answer?

  • "Only people doing to this specific event could benefit" -- this is my biggest concern. Why people attending other Royal events wouldn't benefit? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 3:29
  • 1
    @bytebuster Does the answer actually help any of those people? Would those people even find the question, since "royal touch" isn't a defined term? Do we have anything to offer beyond "royal people wear fancy stuff so wear fancy stuff"? At best we offer common sense
    – Rarity
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 14:36
  • 2
    @bytebuster I definitely agree that questions about royal dress code should be on topic because it is a common issue if someone work around royal family or in diplomacy. This site should not close them and put into disadvantage these people just because there are not majority and do not work in "typical" office"(!) However, I have to also agree with Rarity. Since there is no dress-code as "royal touch", it will hardly help anyone else and it is to localize. I simply asked that question because I did not know. I presume there is nothing wrong with that.
    – MasterPJ
    Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 17:09

Dress-code questions about the workplace are on-topic (I agree with Rachel), but that particular question doesn't seem to be about the workplace -- it's a social event, but "people work there" is pretty tenuous. That one should be closed, just as "what should I wear to my boss's wedding?" would be off-topic.

  • 2
    That question is not asking what to wear though, it is asking what a specific dress code means. If it were asking what to wear to such an event, I agree it would be off-topic. But it's not. The event was only included to provide context for the question of what the "Royal Touch" dress code was. If anything I'd close it as too-localized as it is unlikely another user will have the same question, however its not off-topic.
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:25
  • If the question asked what "black tie" means, would your opinion be the same? Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:30
  • 5
    It says right at the top of our FAQ: "The Workplace - Stack Exchange is for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting." Social events, when related to work, can be some of the hardest parts of navigating a professional setting.
    – pdr
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:45
  • 1
    Yes, it would be the same providing the question was something like "What type of clothing is considered "black tie"?" and not "Why is this dress code called "black tie"?". When most people think of dress codes, they think of the workplace, so its reasonable to think you would ask the Workplace for information on what a dress code consists of. These questions likely useful to more than just the OP as well, as dress codes are a very prominent part of the Workplace. (I doubt we'd get such a question though since "black tie" is easily found with Google)
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:56
  • Interesting -- most of the dress-code discussions I've heard have revolved around social occasions (like weddings), not the workplace. A subset of dress-code questions apply to the workplace, but some of them still feel off-topic to me. Shrug. (But I agree with the comment that this particular question should instead be closed as too localized.) Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 17:06
  • 3
    I agree this question is not about the workplace but how to dress at a social gathering outside of work. If it is not off topic it is too localized because I doubt anyone is ever going to be invited to this party again. Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 17:18
  • 1
    Agree that it's too localized. I really don't think we need a question every time a secretary uses an awkward or cute phrasing which will never be seen again and does not have any proper definition.
    – Rarity
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 19:18

Regretfully Dress Codes are generational topics. The older generations would consider this an On-Topic for the workplace because of the fact that the dress makes the person, and the person dressed well in the workplace makes the company.

Gen-Xers generally see a more relaxed view of this, and loose collars and jeans in some cases are acceptable.

Anything under a Gen-X of age tends to seem to forgo a dress code, or to stretch the limits in some cases of acceptable dress in the work place.

This is my opinion, but also my views of what I've seen in the last 20+ years of being in the work force.

When I first started I was expected to wear a suit. When it hit the late 90's and early 00's it was business causal (Polo and Khakis). Today, it seems a shirt with a button, and jeans are acceptable in a lot of places.

You are going to get some people attempting to keep a dress code but in reality, it comes down to a generational situation.

The younger generations are going to say no, the older generations I feel are going to say yes, but that's my opinion.

For me though, I feel dress code is on topic.

  • Jeans and loose collars are part of a dress code in some places. Just because we don't have to wear suits doesn't mean there isn't some kind of code involved. ;)
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 3:05
  • In a business I wouldn't be caught being at minimum business casual. Jeans are not acceptable in any field except manual labor. Again, it's a generational thing.
    – Matt Ridge
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 12:20
  • Odd, you're a genX-er, I figured you'd be more pro-jeans. ;)
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 2:52
  • I don't concider myself a genX-er. Or a baby boomer, I actually call my generation the lost generation. A generation where technology really wasn't there, or most of the things real genX-ers were born with technology in had, my generation didn't. Does this make sense?
    – Matt Ridge
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 10:59
  • I'm 35, and I'm at the line where Generation X and Y meet. We were exposed to more technology than, let's say, the Gen Xers that are 48, 49, 50. Still, sometimes I feel a bit out of touch, as the Gen Yers seem to be more hip to the latest trends. ;)
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 15:41
  • I'm 38, and until high school the most advanced tech we had was an Apple 2e.
    – Matt Ridge
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 0:40

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