my company lets us pay to wear jeans to work

A reader writes:

I’m currently in a job with a very stuffy, corporate culture that boarders on the ridiculous sometimes. My wardrobe is pretty limited, down to the color of my nails and the size of my earrings, even though I never see a single customer.

Every once in a while, we are given a Jeans Day. Dress code is pretty much the same, except we can wear jeans. However, to get said Jeans Day, we are asked to donate a dollar or sometimes more to charity.

I feel weird about this, because I’m basically giving part of my salary back to the company to get a small perk. Is this something they can do? Am I right to feel this is a little fishy?

Sure, they can do that.

It sounds like they’re collecting the money for charity, so it’s no different than any other workplace charity drive; it just has a dress code privilege attached to it. And you don’t have to participate, after all; you can choose whether or not to spend your money that way.

So they can do this, yes. But should they? I’d argue that policies like this are pretty silly, and a little infantilizing. Donating money to charity is great (as long as it’s truly voluntary and employees aren’t being pressured into it), but connecting it to what you’re allowed to wear is where this gets a little muddled. Either jeans are okay for your particular role and your particular office or they aren’t. If they’re not sufficiently professional the rest of the time, it doesn’t make sense that they suddenly become sufficiently professional because you paid to make them so.

For that matter, I feel the same way about non-money-linked “jeans days” too — if jeans aren’t going to alienate the business’s customers on that day, then are they really such a problem the rest of the time? Either the audiences you deal with are okay with jeans or they’re not, and it raises questions about the dress code overall if they’re declared fine simply because it’s Jeans Day or Casual Friday or whatever.

(That said, I would gladly advocate for a Fleece Day, and I would wear head-to-toe fleece with gusto.)

{ 203 comments… read them below }

    1. Laura*

      I keep a Slanket under my desk because some days, it really is that cold in my office. (I also have a sign on my desk that says, “It’s not a Snuggie, it’s a Slanket!” that my boss made for me after she got tired of hearing me say it to everyone who asked if I was really wearing a Snuggie.)

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Wow. I had no idea the “blanket with sleeves” market was so diversified…

            Thanks Elle-p!

          2. Julie*

            That is awesome! Now I have all the information I need to make an informed purchasing decision! :)

  1. Yup*

    “I feel weird about this, because I’m basically giving part of my salary back to the company to get a small perk.”

    You’re not paying the company to wear jeans to the office, though — you’re donating to charity via the office in exchange for the jeans day. Like having a bake sale isn’t you paying the office for snack food, it’s you donating to charity and getting something non-work-related in return.

    That said, it sounds like you’re chafing under very strict office policies generally. Can you look at the jeans day as a crack of sunshine in their otherwise stuffy worldview? Having worked in two offices like yours, my hope was always that people periodically wearing jeans to the office would show the honchos that yes, business will go on and the world won’t end just because we’re not in suits today. ie, Baby steps towards general unclenching.

    1. KarenT*

      Exactly. I don’t get why the OP is giving part of her salary to the company. She’s giving it to charity. And if she isn’t comfortable with that, she seems to be welcome to not participate.

      Lots of companies do this. It’s normal. We do it here. We have Jeans week a few times a year, and for $5 you can wear jeans for a week. The money is donated to the Red Cross. No one is forced to participate and in fact many people don’t.

      1. SB*

        On one hand, I can see what the OP is saying. While the money is going to charity, it’s going to charity in the business’ name, and the money donated might even be a tax write-off for the business.

        1. KarenT*

          It’s true, but if she takes issue with it she doesn’t have to participate.
          And the company is running the fundraiser, which is why the get the tax break.

        2. Yup*

          In my past workplaces, employees donations usually went to the charity via money order, so the company wouldn’t be able to claim it as a write-off even if they wanted too. In the few cases where the company matched or upped the amount and sent the donation by their own check, they also sent a letter delineating X from employees and Y from company. The charities that promote this kind of stuff (Lee Denim Day, March of Dime Blue Jeans for Babies) are typically all about collecting the names of individual employee contributors to build their donor base.

          If employees are concerned that a company is misrepresenting employee donations as corporate contributions, then I don’t think the conversation is still about penny ante jeans days. It’s about trust and whether the company is shady ethically in its general treatment of employees (and finances).

        3. Cat*

          Eh, in the grand scheme of horrible corporate tax avoidance strategies that are ruining this country, that one doesn’t even register.

      2. Kara*

        My company is doing this next week – the money benefits breast cancer research. (We have casual Fridays too.)

      3. Twentymilehike*

        Wow $5 for a week!? Ours is $5 for one day, and only if you don’t see clients or corporate that day. I have done it once, only because I felt strongly about the charity that time around. Other times, I really don’t feel like wearing jeans. I’m most comfortable in a pencil skirt and I always wear a blazer anyhow. I wore jeans for 8 long years at my last job, and I just don’t find denim a comfortable fabric when I could be wearing a soft stretchy skirt :)

      4. Eva R*

        My company used to do this, and I basically felt about it the same way Allison describes. My company eventually cut out the “donations” and just now has casual Friday.

        Basically, I paid to own my clothing. I don’t need to pay to wear it again, and I don’t really feel that the idea that it’s for charity makes it better- I’m still losing that money even if it’s for a good cause. Plus a lot of people at my workplace would pay to wear jeans who wouldn’t donate freely to a charity.

        I don’t wear jeans, but I don’t feel my company, which is a business to business and product support call center, should have a stricter dress code than I had at the various companies where I was a receptionist. The rationale upper management uses is that they believe people do better work when they are dressed up. I feel that we are all adults and should be able to make our clothing decisions and be talked to if there is a problem with our performance.

        It’s not that wearing whatever really even bothers me much, it’s really more that I feel that it’s not respectful.

  2. Anonymous*

    My company is trying to move towards allowing jeans but it’s difficult. Essentially, management wants dark denim (leaning towards designer jeans) with button up shirts and dress shoes. But some employees are opting for well-worn Wranglers with sneakers. It makes me a bit uncomfortable because it’s in that gray area of taste and class. I’m worried the next step is going to be some kind of fashion police.

    1. TamiToo*

      Management could have a scale of acceptable denim darkness, and everyone must be compared to said scale on jeans day. Problem solved!

      Seriously, when you are at work and it is jeans day, it doesn’t mean that it is “dress like a slob” day. It is people that wear inappropriate things to work that ruin it for the rest of us who know what is appropriate office attire, even on jeans day. Then the management must constantly update the dress code policy to exclude things like overalls, midriff-bearing shirts, logo tee shirts, and naming an acceptable hemline length. It’s really, not that difficult to dress professionally even if you are wearing jeans.

      1. Windchime*

        Yep, so true. This is why the office at OldJob finally quit having even the charity Jeans Days; because some people thought that meant they could just grab a dirty, torn pair of jeans out of the hamper and throw it on with a crumpled, faded t-shirt.

        At NewJob, we have very few charity Jeans Days, and we are expected to wear clean, neat jeans with no holes and a professional top. Once in awhile, we are allowed to wear a sports jersey (Go, Seahawks!) if our team is playing in town.

      2. Poe*

        This. The dress code is generally quite casual at my job, but because I am the first person everyone sees when they arrive I tend to be the most formally dressed person (aside from Big Boss). On Fridays many people work from home, none of our part-time staff work, and there are very rarely any meetings or events, so jeans are okay for me on those days (and apparently every day, but as I said, I like to be more formal). I wear jeans with dress shoes and the same tops I would wear with other trousers.

    2. Jane Doe*

      How are they going to determine who’s wearing designer jeans and who isn’t, assuming they’re still wearing dark denim? I recognize a few brands, but only because they have a specific design on the butt pockets. And why would it matter unless you work in fashion?

    3. Anonymous*

      Having a casual dress code is difficult because people lack common sense. There’s always someone who ruins it. “Well the dress code said no holes and this is actually just distressed. So I’m not violating anything, really.”

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I used to work at a small defense contractor. We normally had a relaxed dress code, but sometimes customers (i.e. high-ranking military people) would visit us. When that happened, an email would go out, “next week is a good time to explore the business end of your business casual wardrobe.”

        Everyone did, and if anyone failed to, their co-workers would have insisted they go home and change. So I’m skeptical of the idea that people really don’t *know* the difference. People know, they don’t like the dress code and are playing games acting innocent. (Possible exception for young people who are new to the workforce. Anyone over 25 or so, I’m not buying it.)

        1. BeenThere*

          When I was in my early twenties I worked as a bank teller. We had a casual day at the bank so I showed up in purple shorts some sort of t-shirt and a bright green watch… something I’ d wear to a rave except the tshirt it would have been benign .. at least it wasn’t mesh for sure.. O_0 Thankfully one of the senior ladies pulled me aside to let me know shorts were not okay among other things. We actually had an awesome adult conversation about what was appropriate and not. I thanked her and let her know I was not aware and in my current world any type of long pants was not considered casual so it never crossed my mind that shorts wouldn’t be okay. It also meant I never bother going in for the paid charity casual days because I still had to wear ‘stuffy’ clothes.

        2. KellyK*

          I would guess it’s probably a majority of people deliberately skirting the rules because they don’t like the dress code, but with a smaller percentage hanging out in the legitimate grey areas, which do exist. And, anyone new to the workforce might well be clueless.

          I would say that I’d be frustrated by an email that said “explore the business end of your business casual wardrobe,” because I’m not sure what that means. Probably not a suit, I’m guessing, because that’s way out *past* the business end of business casual and out into uber-professional and/or job interview. My guess would be that we’re talking slacks or a professional looking skirt (pencil rather than A-line, nice fabric) and a blouse, but that would be a guess. Someone else’s guess might be khakis and a nice polo.

          If there’s some special event that requires going beyond your usual dress code, I would much rather have management be very specific about that than drop little hints.

          And if you want me in something that’s actually *outside* the normal dress code, please give me at least a couple weeks’ notice so I can shop if I have to.

      2. Jessa*

        Yes but the answer to that is to discipline the person who screws it up not take it away from everyone. I mean when I managed the shift for the answering service, it was pretty much casual unless we got a memo saying “Look huge customer coming in, look really good.” I had a really simple rule “Neat, clean, not obscene.” And if you came in not that way, you got sent home OFF THE CLOCK to change. And if you stayed home you got written up for a missed shift. Keep doing it and you got fired. But nobody stopped letting everyone else come in dressed casually.

        I just hate the concept that “employees have perk, employee x takes advantage, so company takes perk away from all 1000 other employees, instead of dealing with the 1 problem.”

      3. Manda*

        That reminded me of some of the jeans I used to wear. I had a pair that was bleached from the knees down. Then I had a pair of denim capris that were bleached in the thighs only and they had random bleach tie dye sploches too. Those would go over well on Office Jean Day. ;)

  3. Anonymous*

    Great idea for me, depending on how much they charge and where the money is going. I buy all my clothes, jeans in particular, from second hand/charity shops, so if that’s where the money is going, I’m all for it…if the price is right for sure. At times, I go to those shops and buy stuff, not because I absolutely need it, but just to be charitable. Plus, I look f.i.n.e in jeans, if truth-be-told. LOL

  4. CollegeAdmin*

    My middle/high school used to do this – it was a private school with a uniform, but sometimes for a class fundraiser, you could donate $3 and “dress down” for the day. I never thought I’d hear of this in the business world…

    1. KarenT*

      It’s very, very common. United Way has a corporate program called Jeans Day for United Way and it has a lot of traction. It’s an easy fundraiser, participation rates are high, and you even get an ugly sticker.

  5. Anonymous*

    My company is having a Hallowe’en breakfast, where we have the choice of dressing up (in costume) or donating $2.00 to the social committee for the privilege of *not* dressing up. I’m super annoyed about this – I don’t enjoy dressing up for Hallowe’en, I don’t like being pressured to donate to the social committee, and I don’t like that this non-choice is being presented to us by management, under the guise of fun.

    But what the heck. It’s one day, and it’s not the hill I am going to die on. I will spend the $2 to wear my ordinary clothes, grumble about it under my breath, and move on.

    1. Anonymous*

      I meant to add to the OP – no, there’s nothing particularly fishy about this. “Dress down for charity” days are pretty common, at least in my industry/ where I live. As long as you’re not required to participate, it’s really not worth getting your shirt in a knot about it.

    2. anon*

      You have to donate money to the social committee? Are they giving it to a charity? Or do non-participants have to pay to fund other activities they may not want to participate in? If it were for charity, I’d be kind of okay with it, but if I’m funding the prizes for the costume contest, that’s a bit iffy.

      But as you said, it’s only $2 and not really worth fighting.

    3. KarenT*

      But do you have to pay not to dress up, or do you have to pay not to dress up only if you attend the breakfast?
      In other words, if the breakfast is mandatory than making you pay to not dress up is a little extortion-y but if the breakfast is completely optional it’s probably hosted by the social committee and they use that money to fund future events. If you don’t like it, you don’t participate.

        1. KarenT*

          because it’s their sandbox, their rules.

          If I want to have my friends over for a free dinner, and I tell them that they all have to wear halloween costumes or pay $5, those are the rules. If they don’t like it, they don’t come. Same principle applies here. Don’t like it? Don’t participate.
          I would, however, find it outrageous if participation was mandatory.

          1. Colette*

            Yes, they can make that rule, but … isn’t the point of a social committee to make the company a better place to work?

            If they need the money to pay for the breakfast, charge everybody.

            If they don’t, they’re essentially punishing those who don’t want to dress up. That might make those who do dress up happy, but it’s likely to cause discontent in those who don’t – particularly if it’s a mandatory breakfast.

        2. fposte*

          I’m wondering if it’s to keep out moochers just there for free food rather than the Halloween spirit. In other words, me.

    4. pghadventurer*

      “social committee” sounds like a company committee to plan socializing, no? If that’s right, this is a very wrong-headed policy. Why should employees have to pay to fund parties they don’t want to go to?

      Forced workplace socializing is the pits.

    5. RG*

      If you don’t dress up and don’t pay the $2, are they going to force a costume on you?

      What if your costume was “office worker”?

      1. Laufey*

        That was my thought. Dress up as Bill Gates, or Marissa Mayer, or someone who wears normal clothes. You get to keep your $2, and point is made!

        1. Poe*

          I looked down at my cardigan and collared shirt and immediately thought “well, I’d go as Pam Beasley”. Go-go-emergency costume!

      2. FD*

        I was wondering that too. Legally they COULD fire her for refusing to wear a costume (except in California ;) ), but it’s hardly likely.

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

            Oh, we had tons of people who got really into it! I was “The Fly” (U2), one guy was “Girlfriend in a Coma” (the Smiths), a couple came as “Yesterday” (the Beatles) and “Tomorrow” (from Annie), with calendar pages of the relevant dates on their shirts and as hats, we had “Paint it Black”, “Soak up the Sun”, “Kung-Fu Fighting”, “Devil went down to Georgia”, and a bunch I can’t remember without referring to the photos

      3. DublinSnore*

        My favorite lazy costume: wear what you normally wear and have a piece of cardboard that says, “Nudist on Strike.”

      4. Callie*

        Wear a t-shirt that says “404 Error, Costume not found” or wear a plaid shirt and carry a thing of paper towels and be the Brawny guy. Or print out a cursor and tape it to your shirt and say that you are an object in Photoshop?

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m seriously considering it! :)

        It’s not mandatory, exactly, but it’s a pretty small office, and members of the social committee will no doubt be running around that morning “encouraging” us all to attend. It’ll look a bit Grinchy if I’m the only one sitting at my desk at that time.

        So if my choices are “suck it up” or “make a point”, in this case I’m probably going to suck it up. I’d rather save my point-making for the work-related weirdnesses that go on around here, rather than wasting it on the social committee!

    6. Jamie*

      Paying to not wear a costume would annoy me, too. I wouldn’t make an issue of it – but it would annoy me.

  6. Anoners*

    We have two casual days at my office (one is totally free and the other has a donation requirement of $2). I guess if you don’t like the charity aspect of it just don’t participate? Ours goes to a local shelter so I don’t really have a problem with it, but if it was going to some cause I wasn’t down with I’d definitely not partake. If they were forcing you to donate I could see this as being inappropriate, but if it’s optional I don’t see too much of a problem.

  7. Zahra*

    I’m wondering… the OP says
    “My wardrobe is pretty limited, down to the color of my nails and the size of my earrings, even though I never see a single customer.”

    Are men banned from using nail polish or having earrings? If so, isn’t that discrimination?

    1. fposte*

      In the US, the EEOC has said it’s acceptable for dress rules to differ for men and women. (And I’m betting that a workplace that doesn’t let a woman wear black nail polish isn’t likely to tolerate it on a man.)

    2. Julie*

      They might be. I have a friend who works at an amusement park, and she can only wear one earring in each ear, among other restrictions, and I’m sure the men are similarly restricted. Although in such a conservative environment, perhaps men are not allowed to wear earrings at all (I don’t know – I’m just speculating). Anyway, I don’t think there are laws about dress codes needing to be equal (or even equivalent) between men and women.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There was a story from a few years back about a Swiss bank which produced a 44 page business dress guide. I managed to find a few examples translated from the original French such as:

        “Jacket buttons should be closed. When seated, they must always be open.”
        “Only when it is very hot, and after confirmation of your supervisor, can you wear the shirt without a jacket.”
        “While blazers are equipped with pockets, they were not designed to contain a large number of personal effects or accessories. Leave these empty, so they do not deform.”
        “Stop wearing bracelets and earrings.”
        “Piercings, besides earrings, and tattoos are prohibited. Tattoos, piercings or anklets are outdated and do not look professional.”
        “You can wear a watch to the extent it does not threaten not safety.”
        “Out of consideration for our foreign customers, avoid conspicuous religious symbols.”

        If you google UBS dress code, you will find more examples. I can’t help thinking that the watch one is in order to support the Swiss watch industry!

        1. Jamie*

          Wow! That almost makes me want to audit everyone here who wears a watch to make sure it conforms to safety standards.

          That kind of specificity in dress would make me very nervous.

    3. some1*

      I’ve heard this argument come up when men complain that they can’t wear shorts in the summer if women can wear skirts or dresses. I point out that women can’t go the pool (in most places in the U.S.) topless.

  8. pghadventurer*

    I’d gladly pay $1 to wear jeans for a day. At Old Job they’d have fundraisers where we had to pay $5 to wear jeans for a day, or $20 for a week. A surprising number of people would shell out the $20 and they would do this every 2 months or so.

    1. Another English Major*

      It used to be the same at my job now. Now we can wear jean everyday except for when certain clients come to visit. So happy they changed it!

  9. Amy B.*

    We too have that policy ($5 for a charity to wear jeans, dress shirt and shoes are still required). I actually do not care for jeans that much and have made it my mission to only own really comfortable dress pants, so this is not a big incintive for me. Sometimes I will pay the $5 (only if it is for a local charity) and still not wear the jeans.

    Our department does not do this very often though, so it always looks weird to me to see my coworkers in jeans.

  10. Jen*

    I think you work where I used to work. Stuffy culture – had to wear pantyhose if I wore a skirt. We’d do jeans days once a month and you’d pay $1 and get a sticker saying you’d donated.

    To be honest, I never minded it too much. I like being able to wear jeans but it’s not a dealbreaker (pantyhose are a bigger annoyance). Where I work now, we can wear jeans just once a month but I work at a college and to be honest, I don’t wear jeans even on the one day a month because I think professional clothes are a good way to differentiate that I’m not a student.

    It sounds moreso like it’s a cultural difference and this is just one aspect of that. You can’t easily change office culture.

    1. Julie*

      I used to work for a company that required women to wear skirts or dresses. Women were not allowed to wear pants. This stopped just before I got hired there (in 1996!) because several (if not all) of the women refused to abide by it and insisted that the policy be changed. 1996!

      1. Manda*

        O_O! That would not go over well where I live. It gets pretty damn cold in the winter. I can’t even go outside without tights under my pants.

  11. PJ*

    My company allows jeans on Fridays. Some people come in dressed like slobs. They’re also always pushing to wear jeans on other days as well — “If we don’t wear a costume on Halloween, can we wear jeans instead?” “Since Friday is a holiday, can we have our jeans day on Thursday?”

    I don’t get it. Jeans are not the most comfortable item in my wardrobe. But if it’s what they love, I’m all for charging them money for the privilege and giving it to charity. We could even pick several charities and let them decide where their money goes.

    1. PEBCAK*

      I want a policy that says we get to wear jeans any time the temperature drops below 10 degrees or there is more than 5 inches of snow. Jeans might not be the most comfortable, but they work best in the winter weather.

        1. Colette*

          Agreed. I can wear jeans to work, and I hate the days where there’s enough snow that it sticks to the bottom of my jeans when I clean off the car.

          I mean, I’m not rolling around in the snow, so it’s just an inconvenience, but it’s still not fun.

        2. SB*

          I don’t think most offices need to work about the same degree of exposure as a mountain climber. Jeans are generally thicker and therefore warmer than dress pants or skirts when you’re slogging to and from your car during the winter.

          1. PEBCAK*

            Oh, I tuck my jeans into my boots…dress slacks come out all wrinkled, but jeans come out passably neat.

          2. fposte*

            If your dress pants are also cotton (or some synthetic), yes. If they’re wool, no.

            But from PEBCAK’s extrapolation it sounds like for her it’s more about wrinkle resistance than warmth. I’m all about the warmth.

            1. Chinook*

              But doesn’t cold weather past a certain point allow the “toque head” rule to kick in where TPTB are supposed to turn a blind eye to any fashion mishaps occurring while keeping yourself from freezing to depth? Or is that just a Canadian thing?

        3. danr*

          When you slip on an icy sidewalk, jeans take the fall much better than dress pants. I don’t think we’ll be climbing mountains or doing long distance winter hiking.

        4. Chinook*

          I agree – when it gets cold/very snowy, I have been known to wear my lined dress pants to go outside rather than my jeans. Jeans are cold And, when wet, can freeze solid.

        5. Shelley*

          As another person living in the Great White North, I definitely go for jeans more than dress pants on cold days. When the weather sucks (rain or snow or whatever), dress slacks aren’t any drier than jeans, and jeans feel a lot thicker and warmer. Plus, dress slacks are way harder to clean (more delicate fabric, and/or lighter colour). Especially as I’m a transit person, so my foray out into the weather isn’t even limited to going to/from a car.

          And then when it gets really nasty, I give up on nice(r) shoes entirely and just wear waterproof hiking boots to work. If my bosses noticed, they didn’t care. :D

          1. Eva R*

            I live in Wisconsin and wear skirts and dresses nearly all the time, and up until recently I walked everywhere I went.

            It’s actually super warm if you know the layering tricks. I have been at various points in my life a big fan of victorian style clothing so I snap up wool maxi skirts at thrift shops and layer them with summerweight skirts and thick tights underneath. Toasty. Or I get spanx or vintage slips to layer under sweater dresses with boots. I used to freeze in jeans when they got wet from climbing through snow banks.

      1. Emily K*

        That was exactly what the policy was at my last job! It used to be jeans on Fridays, and then one wintry day at a staff meeting our big boss declared, “So, the policy is that we can wear jeans on Fridays…or whenever it’s really gross and cold out. You just have to have a suit in the office in case we have last-minute guests. Does that work for everyone?” It did. Winter passed and we all just kept wearing jeans whenever we wanted and the dress code never reverted back, which also worked for everyone.

    2. Anonymous*

      Yeah jeans are not as comfortable as, say, sweatpants, but you can put them in the washer and dryer, you don’t have to iron them, they’re pretty durable, and they don’t show stains that easily. Can’t say the same for dress pants.

      1. PJ*

        If you buy dress pants wisely they will have all the qualities you mentioned. Except for maybe the durable part. Stretch fabrics and elastic waistbands, I love you!

        1. AnotherEleven*

          Eesh. Where I am from, elastic waist dress pants are the domain of frumpy middle school counselors and people who have legitimately nerdy job titles and don’t care who knows it.

    3. Bluefish*

      Ha! Yes there are always those people that are trying to negotiate a jeans day. lol. I’m totally not a jeans at work person. We can on Fridays but I never do. I swear some people here would forfeit a huge raise if they could wear jeans everyday. To each their own!

  12. Matthew Soffen*

    My company did the “Dollar for Jeans Days” for a while then they just relaxed to a “Friday is ‘Casual Day’ policy”

    This is after going from PURE casual (Jeans/T-Shirts) to Business (No T-Shirts, No Jeans, No Shorts – for guys though)…

    Be patient, It will probably change eventually once the ‘old guard’ starts to retire/etc.

  13. Julie*

    I’m someone who doesn’t like to dress casually for the office, so I dress the same every day of the week, but I don’t completely agree with AAM about casual Fridays. If it’s generally understood that it’s OK to dress less formally on a Friday, then colleagues and customers/clients might be fine with seeing employees dressed more casually on a Friday, but if employees were dressed casually on any other day, others might feel that it was inappropriate – again, based on the shared idea that it’s OK for Fridays only. My company tries to get around this issue altogether by requiring that we dress in “business appropriate” (not “casual”) attire every day. They are very clear about this, too. There are pictures of what a typical outfit would look like – for men and for women, and they also list some items that are completely not allowed, such as “beach sandals and shoes” (I take this to mean “no thongs/flip flops” and “no crocs”).

  14. Shane Watson*

    I’ve worked for two IT companies that had a paid jeans day policy. The payments either went to pay for office parties or charities. I don’t think the OP’s company policy is fishy at all. Actually, it sounds like she’s more concerned about the strict dress code.

    1. Leslie Yep*

      Ponte dress + fleece-lined leggings + slouch boots + cardigan = looks business casual, feels like pajamas.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      We have a very casual dress code, and on weekend mornings there’s one guy who does actually wear his pajamas to work. At least we hope they’re his pajamas… And slippers. He wears slippers instead of shoes.

      1. SB*

        I worked in a foreign gov. office in the US. It was super conservative. Men wore jackets and ties everyday. However, all the men wore house slippers in the office when they weren’t meeting with anyone outside the office. It was hilarious to see these very well-dressed guys in ties shuffling around in socks and slippers.

        1. Julie*

          I have left the house in slippers or thongs (flip flops), and if I’m far enough from home when I realize it, I just keep going. I have a couple of pairs of shoes in the office, so I can change quickly when I get in. Oh, and the slippers are Crocs, so they sort of look like really casual shoes.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    This is a fundraiser we do as well for the Combined Federal Campaign – the mother of all charity events that domineers everything from September – December every year. Only they can’t actually REQUIRE you to pay for these things because management can’t force participation in CFC (although they can annoy the living hell out of you), so it’s a suggested donation to be allowed to wear jeans on Fridays.

    So I wear my jeans, and figure the dollar is cheaper than my dry cleaning. Also, for some reason it takes me 3 minutes to get dressed on jeans days but a lot more time on work slacks days. I’ll never understand it.

    We are required to have professional clothes to change into if there’s a meeting or briefing that comes up though.

    1. Chrissi*

      Oh, it’s not just my agency that annoys the ever-loving bejeesus out of all the employees throughout CFC season? Good to know.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It drives me nuts. If you have enough time to spend all day running a bake sale, or attending a fundraising fun run, or whatever else, you not efficiently using your time. I’m all for morale building and stuff, but it’s just not a good use of taxpayer money to be organizing and devoting so much time to this stuff. And the people who run it all are very much the high school student council types (unlike me) and way too perky and annoying for my taste.

        BAH! HUMBUG!

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I am! I was out of town when my letter posted here so I didn’t get to play in the responses, but you were all super sweet :)

        1. Chrissi*

          Funny you should mention the bakesale – I just signed up to bake muffins for ours. We also have a change jar competition between divisions, a silent auction for various gift baskets, and our CFC Committee members go and speak to each employee individually to try and convince them to sign up to give money to the charity of their choice throughout the year. After being very Bah Humbug about it for 11 years and refusing to do it on principle (and giving money to charity outside of work instead), my brother-in-law convinced me to stop taking out my frustration with the CFC campaign on my charity, so I gave in and signed up last year. I’m still not happy about it though.

      2. JMegan*

        At OldJob it was United Way. Of course we can’t FORCE you to participate, but there’s nothing stopping us from coming by your office with “donation options” every day!

        1. Laufey*

          No, there’s nothing stopping you from coming by every day, but that’s just plain annoying, no matter what you’re collecting for. If you notice I haven’t signed up, and you want to remind me that the program is going on, fine. You come by every day, after I’ve stated I’m not interested, or I donate to other charities, or whatever, then we have problems.

          1. Anonymous*

            If you have an electronic system from United Way, there used to be (&, I dearly hope, still is) a button to click with a “no, thank you” which would count as “participation.” When I ran our Division’s program the system would tell me who had been thru the process, with zero info on individual dollar donations.

            1. Julie*

              That’s the way to go. Then the department heads can count their “participation” without forcing people to contribute.

        2. Marmite*

          And even if they can’t force you to participate it can be tricky if it’s something visible and everyone else is joining in.

          I remember one job where a few weeks after I’d started there was a bake sale for a charity I really don’t support. It’s a cancer charity though so most people can’t get their heads around not supporting it (I don’t like the way the charity handles its funds and their misleading advertising and etc.). I kept my mouth shut and joined in with the baking rather than make waves in a new job. I managed to avoid actually donating any of my money though.

        3. Callie*

          UGH. The school district where I used to teach used to shame the heck out of any school in the district that did not have 100% staff participation in the UW fundraising drive. I hated the pressure to participate so I just didn’t and my school didn’t make 100% the whole 13 years I was there.

        4. kelly*

          Same here. At OldRetailJob, United Way was the corporate partner. Each store had it’s goal and if by September, it was falling short, we were pestered to give more to help make the goal. There was no option to not give – I think most gave the bare minimum to shut management up.

          It would be interesting to hear others’ thoughts about the giving to a charity during the holidays. At the same job, we didn’t have a store wide Christmas party because corporate quit giving money for that when the current owners bought the company. There were other options that didn’t involve corporate money that they could have done like a potluck, people making cookies and other baked goods for the break room, or donating expired k cups for associates’ use in break room rather than tossing them. Instead, store management decided to go the charitable route by having us buy a pillow for needy families sponsored by a local charity. I didn’t donate because it was sponsored by a coalition of evangelical groups and I don’t donate to any evangelical causes on principal. I also thought it was tone deaf of management that was cutting hours to expect you donate to a group of their choosing and not offering other secular options. I would have gladly donated if they had included a food bank or the humane society, but not to a religious-based cause.

  16. Suz*

    My company does this but it’s $5, not $1. We’re a non-profit and the money raised does go back to the company.

    I have always hated it. You can tell who didn’t donate by what they’re wearing and management does notice who does and who doesn’t. When I started working here, I truly could not spare an extra $5. It was humiliating to be the only person not wearing jeans. Now that I can afford it, I refuse to wear jeans for these fundraisers in hopes that some of my less fortunate coworkers don’t feel singled out.

    1. Gjest*

      In addition to the pressure of coming up with $5 while working for a non-profit, where you are usually paid less, I also don’t necessarily like the idea that the money goes back into the organization. I work in the non-profit world, and it always bugged me when my last org would pester the employees for donations. I like to donate my charity money to other organizations that I had an interest in. My donation to the org I worked for was that I was grossly underpaid and worked a ton of extra time for them (salaried). But I have additional interests, and like to support other organizations with cash I might have had.

      I can see why someone wouldn’t have a problem with it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

  17. fposte*

    While we don’t do that (largely because we can wear jeans whenever we please), we do have little perks for charitable donations, and I think that’s pretty common. Think of it not as buying the right to wear jeans, but as charitable donations have a perk attached.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      We have that too; we can wear jeans all the time unless clients are in the office, and in summer, we have Shorts/Flip-flop days. You can pay to do it and then they have some that are free. My company is very big on community service and donation of time and money. But you’re not obligated to do anything.

  18. WWWONKA*

    I used to work for a company that did this. It bothered me because they picked the charity.We did have casual Fridays though. In our distribution centers management could wear shorts so what was the point of jeans. The management at that company was so archaic in their thinking but thought they were on the cutting edge of business operations.

  19. LMW*

    My company does this all the time too — but it’s $5 for various charities throughout the year, and we do get some free jeans days throughout the year as well. It’s usually just a table in the cafeteria and you can stop by and get a sticker if you want. No pressure at all. It doesn’t bother me — the company pays better than the city average for most positions and we’re well known for employee giving. We’re also allowed to work flexible hours to accommodate volunteer work and the company has a foundation that gives very generously in the community. Most of us probably could get away with wearing jeans most of the time…but we do have quite a few people with no common sense when it comes to dress, so a stricter dress code is probably wise. Plus, it’s a great way to raise money for various charities in the city – we give tens of thousands of dollars each year, not including our two major giving campaigns.

  20. Julia*

    We have jeans days on Fridays if you pay $1 for jeans and $1 for sneakers. Some people know how to do jeans right and some don’t! The money goes towards the annual holiday party. I never wear jeans to work, I think they are inappropriate and I personally don’t like them, but every now and then I donate $2. But if an employee were to take that $2 a week, at the end of the year, he would have $100 (less 2 weeks vacation :-)) and you could take yourself, (and any of your workplace friends) out and have a nice time. So, I think the whole thing is dumb but the majority loves it here so that’s that!

  21. SB*

    I inadvertently put the kibosh on jeans Friday at Oldjob. The person who was in my position previously decided to wear jeans on Fridays. Because it was an American custom, and the rest of the office was foreign, they followed suit. I didn’t realize this when I started, so I didn’t wear jeans on Fridays. Eventually a few people in management changed, and pointed out that the American didn’t wear jeans so there was no reason the other’s should. Of course, I didn’t know any of this at the time. It wasn’t until I left that someone told me.

  22. H. Vane*

    My husband’s work does this. For one month out of the year, you can pay $1 to wear jeans instead of scrubs. The scrubs are not really there to look professional – they’re there so that if you get bled on you don’t have to distroy your more expensive jeans. Which is what he would have to do if he happened to get bled on while wearing jeans during that month. Hooray for blood-borne pathogens!

    1. PJ*

      I would LOVE to wear scrubs to work! I’d pay a buck for that. Baggy, elastic waists, pockets… I’m there!

      1. Kelly L.*

        I worked at a drugstore once as a cashier. The pharmacists wore lab coats; the techs wore scrubs. I envied them…because once you got down to cashiers, we were required to wear lab coats too. This posed a couple of problems. (1), unlike the pharmacists, we did a lot of the scut work, and our white lab coats were usually filthy by the end of the day from general store cleaning. (2), it made customers think we were pharmacists, especially those of us who were older than college age, and then they would get mad and call us incompetent when we couldn’t answer their super technical medical question and needed to refer them to the real pharmacist.

  23. PPK*

    It’s letters like this where I appreciate our company’s decision to abandon nearly all dress conventions unless you are actually meeting a customer in person. T shirts and jeans every day!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yep, mine too (although we are supposed to wear company or blank t-shirts). At Exjob, I had to wear office clothes even though no one ever saw us and I got dirty all the time handling sample materials. Ugh! All my business casual things were washable, which meant they weren’t as crisp as they could be (I hate to iron).

    2. Susan*

      Yeah, I don’t think there’s any form of dress code at my current job. I don’t remember working anywhere with a formal dress code in any of my jobs (close to 20 year career). At least none that was enforced. Tech jobs FTW!

      My current job also has ~50% of the people in the company working from home full time. Love that.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m in IT, but we are still required to wear business casual (unless it’s one of the afore-mentioned Jeans Days). Boooo. I would much rather wear jeans than slacks, especially since I rarely, if ever, have meetings with customers.

    3. Tinker*

      Yeah, most places where I’ve worked have a very definite Jeans Day policy — it’s called “days that end in ‘y'”. The exception to that rule had a full page of oddly specific stipulations (khakis reluctantly permitted, but only if pressed, that sort of thing) as the formal policy, “Yeah, that’s not practical in this department, I suggest black jeans so that they don’t have to acknowledge them” as the informal policy, and khakis that had at some point in their lives seen an iron as my compromise point.

    4. littlemoose*

      Same here, and I love it. I only wear nice jeans with a decent top and leather shoes, so not too crummy. Many of my coworkers do dress more casually than that, although some dress better. I’m somewhere in the middle and I’m ok with that, especially since I have zero customer/client/public contact. Anyway, I consider the casual dress code to be one of the best perks of my job. I For I did work in a place with a more stringent dress code, I would participate in the jeans day – if it’s voluntary.

  24. evilintraining*

    We used to do this for the Komen Foundation every year, on the day they designated. They send official posters, pink ribbon pins, etc. that can be used that day.

    Fortunately, I now work at a place where I can wear almost whatever I want. :P

  25. A Teacher*

    I actually teach in a school district with no dress code for teaching staff. In lieu of not getting decent raises, insurance going up, and a lot of other mandates its been one of the “perks” that we’ve kept. I left a really repressive environment where we had to wear a uniform type dress code and the shirts alone were $70 a shirt. The company gave you $50 a year as a “gift” to help with the purchase of a shirt. I personally love being able to wear whatever I want. Some days I go for dress pants, sometimes dresses, sometimes leggings with a dress/long sweater or shirt, and sometimes jeans. I’m all about personal expression so it is a perk to my job that I enjoy–as I sit here typing I’m wearing a super cute sweater, jeans, and my favorite pair of moccasins.

    1. TL*

      Yup, I work in a lab and there’s no dress code beyond safety concerns so everyone in the labs wears jeans/t-shirts. It’s so nice, plus you don’t have to worry about keeping your nice clothes nice while working with stains and chemicals and weird green liquids.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to work in a lab and I could wear colored denim, but not blue jeans. It was in deference to my managers preference for dresses (office staff)–she thought blue was too casual. Since I was the receptionist and I liked wearing black or khaki or green jeans, I didn’t mind too much.

      1. A Teacher*

        Nope. Large physical therapy company in the burbs…don’t miss that place. The final straw was when they decided to go to an even more restrictive dress code and told us we would be required to buy UA (abbreviation) tops and the cheapest top was more than what we were previously spending and as a token they would give us two shirts…in my job it wasn’t uncommon to work 6 days a week, two shirts would get me no where.

        I’m also very anti-uniform, anti-strict dress code. Its just my own personal preference. I see clothing as an extension of me and my personality so now that I have the freedom to where what I want when I want (within reason, of course) I love it.

  26. themmases*

    I work for a non-profit hospital, and various departments here do this all the time. They send out a global email a couple of weeks ahead of time telling you where you can send donations, and in return you get a sticker that both advertises the cause and shows that that’s why you’re wearing jeans. I’ve never participated because I frequently see patients on Fridays (and because I’m fairly young and only there to ask people about research– I’m not their doctor or anything like that– I try to avoid looking like a student research assistant), but I probably could if I wanted to.

    It sounds like the OP is actually upset by the stuffy dress code, and maybe by having to pay to get a little relief. But this practice is very, very normal and even in my case, where my money literally would go back to my employer, I’m not bothered by it and I don’t think most people are.

    I also somewhat disagree with Alison that a dress code is either OK or not OK all the time. I have fairly predictable days each week where I am either meeting patients for the first time, or hiding in my office and seeing no one except when I emerge for coffee. If I know I will be seeing my department head that day or meeting a study monitor or having my annual review, I plan to dress more nicely or to wear something that looks good with a lab coat. As far as I can tell, lots of people do this.

  27. Blue Dog*

    Like many offices mentioned above, ours does this twice a year for a month (once in the summer when it really hot and once between Thanksgiving and New Years). The money raised from the first session goes to a homeless shelter and the money from the second goes to an orphanage. Participation is subject to cancellation with something big is going on (big client coming, prospective interview, etc.).

    Participation is $5 a day for lawyers and $2 a day for staff. And, most importantly, it is all based on the honor system (there is not “Casual Dress Code Nazi” roaming the halls marking off who dressed down). Everyone seems to enjoy. We announce how much money was raised aferwards. Most people are happy to save the money on dry cleaning.

    1. The IT Manager*

      once in the summer when it really hot

      This logic baffles me. I live in the humid south so I know – denim jeans will be hotter than most dress slacks. And for women, they’ll be hotter than skirts or dresses.

      I can wear jeans to work (no t-shirts or athletic shoes) and I did wear jeans most of this summer because my jeans fit me better than my slacks did, but jeans just don’t seem like they are cooler at all. Personally for something like this I’d prefer to be allow to wear jeans in January / Februrary when it most likely to be cold and wet.

  28. Anonymous*

    We have casual Friday where we are allowed to wear jeans. We aren’t normally allowed to wear jeans because we have a lot of events with customers and vendors in our offices and our executive staff likes us to be presentable when they’re giving tours. They give us Fridays though, and no one is allowed to plan events with outside people on Fridays. I guess that kind of answers the “why is this okay some days and not others” question.

  29. Ms Enthusiasm*

    Yep we can wear jeans every Friday where I work also. I think we are supposed to be donating to charity but not completely sure (I have my charitable donations automatically withdrawn from my paycheck so I know I am covered). What I’ve noticed though, is that I lot of senior level people don’t partake in the jeans Fridays. I’ve always wondered if they thought they still needed to dress professional on Fridays to set an example to the rest of us? Like, once you reach a certain level everything is now so much more serious that wearing jeans would jeopardize everything?

  30. Elsajeni*

    My least favorite thing about my workplace is that they’ll run contests between the various stores for, say, mailing list sign-ups, make a big point to the employees of how much extra profit each sign-up represents for the company, and then offer as a prize to the winning store… Jeans Week. “Thanks for all your hard work securing these extra profits for us! In exchange, have a reward that requires no expenditure of money or effort on our part and makes no difference in your enjoyment of your workday.”

  31. Erin*

    I disagree with AAM. My old firm used to do this kind of thing but I recall it being part of a wide-spread event (I think it may have been city- or even nation-wide — maybe the United Way thing?) so maybe clients would see attorneys and paralegals in the halls wearing jeans, but that didn’t mean it would always be okay to be in jeans. Clients generally knew it was a special charity day. Also, anyone who had anything going on — meeting, hearing, testimony, court — had to wear the typical battle dress.

  32. Para Girl*

    At my old job, we participated in a Jeans Day during October for Breast Cancer Awareness. When you handed your $5 to one of the coordinators, you got a pink ribbon pin to wear on Jeans Day. None of us felt like we were being taken advantage of or that there was anything wrong with it. It was a law firm, so some people paid the $5 to get the pin and wore that with their business clothes to client meetings on the day. I thought it was a fast and easy way to raise money for breast cancer research.

    This feels more like some people are looking to be unhappy or spend their time looking for something to be upset about. Maybe I spend too much time being a “glass half full” kind of person.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Your second paragraph reads as unnecessarily self-righteous. And what if we have issues with the major breast cancer awareness org? (Please note: not issues with breast cancer awareness in general, but with the way this particular org is run). I hope it was optional, and that those who didn’t participate weren’t looked down upon.

    2. fposte*

      But this touches on my more general concern–what charity is the money going to? A lot of breast cancer charities are really crappy (two of them are in the top ten of the Tampa Bay Times’ provocative Worst Charities list). In the U.S., the jeans stuff seems to be mostly United Way, which is its own can of worms.

  33. Cath@VWXYNot?*

    “I would gladly advocate for a Fleece Day, and I would wear head-to-toe fleece with gusto”

    Every day is Fleece Day in Vancouver! Fleece, jeans, hiking boots, and GoreTex are like the unofficial city uniform (hipsters excepted, of course).

    1. AgilePhalanges*

      My town, too. When people stress about what restaurant to go to dinner at, because they didn’t bring anything dressy, I tell them not to worry–dressing up for a nice dinner around here means busting out the fleece with the least amount of dog hair (we’re also a VERY dog-oriented town).

  34. mel*

    Oh we had this as well, except I think it was more like 2 dollars per day and only on fridays. It wasn’t for charity, it went into our social fund that paid for holiday parties. It was still a rare event, though.

  35. Mike C.*

    I hate this infantalizing charity bullshit. Paying your employer to wear jeans isn’t going to feed the hungry or cure breast cancer.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s stupid too, but not because it’s not going to feed the hungry–the dollar donation there to the food bank is going to buy just as much as a buck from somebody else.

  36. Jen in RO*

    I’m really surprised that dress codes are so common, and really really happy to be working in IT. I wear jeans 300 days a year and I would not consider taking a job with a dress code unless I was desperate. Having to pay for the ‘privilege’ of wearing perfectly normal clothes would be very annoying to me, charity or no charity.

    1. Garrett*

      Yeah, I realize I am lucky. We don’t really have a dress code except to be presentable. Some people wear jeans, some wear slacks and the execs tend to wear suits and ties. But, some days it varies and I’ll see the VPs in jeans. I wear slacks usually and jeans on Friday, but there have been days I feel like jeans and am glad I have that option.

      On rare occasions when a VIP is visiting, we’ll be instructed to dress nicer, but I’ve never had to wear a tie here.

  37. Marmite*

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone may have already mentioned this, but in the UK there is something called “Jeans for Genes Day”. It usually falls in September, I believe.

    They’ve been doing it for years and it’s very common in schools (we have school uniforms here) but more and more workplaces seem to be taking part too. It is a fundraising thing, but it’s equally about raising awareness of genetic disorders, which often don’t get the same level of interest as other medical issues.

    FWIW, we did this in my secondary school every year and the rule was that the donation was encouraged but voluntary. I remember it fondly as a day everyone looked forward to not wearing uniform. The day is the charity’s main fundraiser and the money goes to fund research grants so it really may help cure disease.

    Of course, random regular jeans days in one workplace are unlikely to raise a significant amount of money, but jeans days as a concept aren’t necessarily bad!

  38. Claire MKE*

    In my experience, United Way campaigns include “Jeans Day” stickers you can buy and use on Fridays. At my current job, you can wear jeans on Friday if you donate a dollar to fund Teamworks, which plans all the parties/events for the office. I usually prefer skirts/dresses anyway, so it doesn’t affect me much!

  39. Sabrina*

    My company does this. We have jeans days every Friday, and occasionally for recognition or because of some special thing. For instance this is United Way activities week, so we get to wear jeans. Two weeks ago it was Customer Service Week, jeans again. There’s frequently jeans days you can buy for the Red Cross or United Way or some other charity they are collecting for. I’m convinced the only reason they don’t just say screw it, jeans all the time, is that they collect more money if people buy jeans day tickets.

  40. KellyK*

    I definitely agree that jeans are either okay or not–if they’re going to alienate customers or screw up the environment you want to create, then having people give money to charity in exchange for the privilege isn’t going to change that. (I think casual Fridays are an exception because that’s a common enough business culture thing that people who are put off by jeans on a Tuesday may not care on a Friday.)

    Since it’s a charity thing, for me it would really come down to whether it’s a charity I want to support or not.

    1. some1*

      “I definitely agree that jeans are either okay or not”

      I agree. I worked for a company that allowed jeans every day, but some supervisors would spring on you in your performance review that you should dress up more.

    1. Garrett*

      I agree. I’ve seen guys here in ratty khakis that look like they are one snag away from turning into rags. I have my work jeans, which are nice and clean, and my home jeans, which are well-worn and may have a hole or 2 (but they are oh so cozy!)

    2. Rana*

      I think it may be a holdover from the days when jeans were strictly blue-collar wear, aka, not suitable for office settings.

      1. Jen in RO*

        Hm, that might also explain why jeans don’t seem to be such a big no-no here. If you were blue collar during communist times, you *did not* afford jeans… they were a big deal back then.

    3. Eva R*

      I think part of the reason is that you can’t really go shopping with people and tell them what to buy, how their clothes should fit, etc. and coming up with complex rules about how outfits should be put together would be complicated.

      Remember the ask a manager post a few months ago where the manager wanted to make rules about what women could wear based on their body types?

  41. Ashley*

    I worked at a grocery store (Meijer) and every other Friday we could pay a dollar to charity to wear jeans. I always thought it was dumb and usually never cared enough to donate. I think there’s other ways to get your employees to be charitable.

  42. JCC*

    A strict dress code is basically just a relaxed uniform. While it is partially there for the clients’ sake, it is also designed to erase differences between co-workers. If the office were to swap the dress code to solid white t-shirts and black jeans, the fundamental point of the dress code (minimizing culture and class differences between co-workers to improve productivity) would remain unchanged.

    I imagine the hope was that a jeans day for charity (while leaving the rest of the dress code unchanged) would draw folks together as a form of team-building, instead of as a “pay for individuality” exercise.

    OP’s point of view isn’t unusual, though; how could their employer have implemented a Jeans Day differently, to avoid this kind of mentality?

    1. Jen in RO*

      I would definitely prefer white t-shirt + black jeans, I just find them so much more comfortable! I always feel overdressed and awkward in dress pants :/

  43. Anonymous*

    I’ll assume this is a post from America but I’ve just come to say that this doesn’t sound at all odd to me. I live in England and this type of thing is not uncommon in work or school.

    Many schools have a ‘non uniform’ day a couple times a year where children come to school in clothes that aren’t school uniform and donate (usually about) 50p-£1 to charity (note that all schools in UK have uniform). It’s not that uncommon in work places that have dress code either.

    The amount of $1 that they’re asking you to donate is so low when you consider it’s a one-off donation that it’s really not any issue for anything. It’s less than buying a coffee, it’s hardly ‘giving your salary back’ especially as it goes to charity. Not to mention you surely don’t have to take part – you can just wear your usual work trousers and save your one dollar if there really is a money issue. It would only be weird if they force you to take part.

  44. So Cold*

    I don’t understand what’s so great about wearing jeans to work. It’s not like they’re more comfortable than slacks. More fun to wear? Eh . . . But while jeans weren’t technically required, they were expected, and if you opted for more professional attire you were looked down on as not being a team player.

    My office lets us wear jeans any day, and to be honest I’d rather wear a dress. So much simpler.

    1. smallbutmighty*

      Me, too! I work in a very casual office where pretty much anything goes, and I usually wear a dress because it’s way more comfortable than jeans. Most of my colleagues wear jeans, but I’ve just never seen the appeal of jeans. I have a couple pairs I wear once in a while, mainly because I know my husband likes it when I do, but they’re among my least favorite clothes to wear.

    2. Rana*

      Yeah, add me to the “meh, jeans” crowd too. It starts feeling like how I felt when they let us have “donut runs” in high school sometimes as a treat – great in theory, and most people loved it, but if you’re the weirdo who doesn’t actually like donuts? Eh.

      Now, a fleece day? I could get fully behind that one. (I miss the PNW so hard, if only for that reason…)

    3. Jen in RO*

      For me, jeans are much more comfortable than slacks (is “slacks” used for women’s pants too?) or a dress. It’s not necessarily a matter of fit, but rather of… personality? I’m not a very girly-girl and I hate my legs, so I only wear long skirts/dresses, in summer, once in a while. I would be very unhappy if I had to wear a skirt every day (I used to seriously worry about this when I was a teen – what if I got a great job, but I had to wear a suit, will they let me wear a pants suit? will it be awkward to be the only woman not in a skirt? i can’t wear a long skirt with a suit! will I be miserable if I do wear a short skirt and feel self-conscious all day? aaaaa panic!). Yeah, I have issues, but I don’t really feel “myself” without my jeans.

    4. Tinker*

      Well, people vary.

      I find the fit of most slacks to be weird, and the fit of most slacks finds me to be weird (in one way or another). I tend also to be less comfortable in pants made of lighter fabrics, as slacks tend to be, for some reason that I can’t quite pin down — it’s partly a sensory thing, partly an appearance thing, and partly a holdover from jobs that involved things like crawling under railcars. Jeans I find to be much easier to fit properly and I find properly fitting jeans more comfortable than properly fitting slacks.

      Even though I would almost certainly leave a job over being required or significantly pressured to wear a dress, though, I very much appreciate that there are some people who strongly prefer to wear such things, and I don’t think much of causing extra hassle to people over their clothes without a solid business reason.

  45. Verde*

    I just had a conversation with someone last night who was telling me about a workplace where you earned a “jeans voucher” for good behavior, like your attendance, and you could ask for approval from HR/your supervisor to use it so you could wear jeans to work on a planned day. This struck me as incredibly lame.

  46. Sourire*

    I do actually have a problem with this, though for very different reasons than the OP. I dislike that it makes one’s charitable donation (or lack thereof) so public. It’s really no one else’s business what anyone donates. I worked somewhere with this same event and I often overheard catty comments like “I can’t believe Jane is so cheap so wouldn’t even donate a dollar!” Maybe Jane just donated $500 to another charity. Maybe Jane doesn’t like to wear jeans. Maybe she donated and then forgot it was jeans day.

  47. Manda*

    The store I used to work at did this. If you wanted to wear jeans on Friday, you had to pay $2 and you got a sticker so they knew who paid. The money went to the associate council which organized things like the Christmas party and retirement parties and that. I saw nothing wrong with it. I opted out, but that was only because I kept certain pants just for work because they got dirty quick and I didn’t want to ruin my jeans.

  48. AnotherEleven*

    “if jeans aren’t going to alienate the business’s customers on that day, then are they really such a problem the rest of the time?”

    Yeah, but … do workers who never see customers behave differently when they wear suits vs. when they wear jeans? (I really don’t know.)

  49. KireinaHito*

    It reminds me about a charity breakfast they organised at my job. Participation was optional, so I decided not to participate and… I happened to be the only one who did not join… At least 20 people asked me that day why I was so against giving money to the poor African children. Since then I donate for every charity event even if I’m not going to participate.

  50. Beth*

    I work for a company who uses these wear “xyz” days and donate to charity as a marketing tool and they have created a great deal of publicity for the company and good will in the community. We had an “take your pants off for the homeless” day when we could wear shorts to work and donated gentle used pants to a homeless shelter. Same for wearing jeans days, we always have a local charity that benefits from the “payments” for the privilege of wearing jeans. When business associates come in and we explain to them the reasoning, they sometimes donate as well.

  51. Vicki*

    I was at my local medical clinic recently for a checkup and the receptionists had a sign on the counter that said it was “Casual day”. I asked about that. The sign goes up so that the patients understand why the receptionists are dressed “casually”.

    This is a high counter. You can see the receptionists head above it. I wouldn’t know what they were wearing if it hadn’t been for the sign – I popped up on my toes and peeked. Nice blouse, slacks. The other woman was wearing dark blue denim. I couldn’t see their shoes.

    It’s a medical group. The other staff wears scrub pants and shirts. The doctors wear lab coats. People interact with the receptionists to say “I have an appointment with Dr X at 2pm”.

    Who. Cares. What. They. Wear?

  52. Working Girl*

    If find it more comfortable to wear dress pants to work than jeans, even stretchy or loose denim. As for charity I give at home and chose to opt out of work charity which is basically giving your boss the tax receipt to use instead of yourself. At home I can decide who to give to, at work the decision is made by the boss, not shared with the employees who to give to.

  53. Beth Anne*

    My company does this once a month (usually the first Friday). In the summer they did it twice a month. I thought it was a nice perk/gesture. Sometimes I donated the $5 and sometimes I didn’t. I don’t really see anything wrong with it since the money goes to charity. Now if they collected the money just b/c and the money just went to the company I probably wouldn’t do it. But I really believe in charity and think it’s good to give to those less fortunate. My company changes charities every quarter and will send emails out and tell us who we are donating to and will even give links to their website.

  54. Karp Karp*

    My employer does the $1 jeans thing with the money going to charity…or so I was told. I sat in a meeting with the Director where she suggested that instead of the money going to charity, it should be “donated to our organization” for employee engagement. I thought that was very wrong and made that perfectly clear. I even asked for my portion of the jeans money back so that I can donate it myself .

  55. Menacia*

    Can’t wait until the lady in my department who asks for money for some charity or another every other week retires. I don’t wear jeans, and certainly would not pay to wear them. The company makes tons of money, and donates to many charities. We have a United Way campaign, E-Auction, Blue Jeans for Babies, Backpacks for Back to School, bake sales, as well as parents selling crap for their kids. Ridiculous.

  56. Vicki*

    I walked into our local clinic one day for a regular appointment and there were little signs on the reception desk that said “Today is ‘jeans’ day.” I was bothered by these signs.

    First: these people are seated behind a reception counter. Unless I lean on and over the counter to look, I can’t see what they’re wearing below chest level.

    Second: these people are working at the reception counter. Why is it my business or that of anyone else WHAT they are wearing? I want them to take my name, check me in, and let the people in the back know I’m there.

  57. Menacia*

    For certain periods during the year, there is Blue Jean Friday for which employees have to pay $5. The money goes to charity. I can honestly say I have not once participated. I like to choose to whom to give my money. I give at least $100 or more a year, and participate in the United Way and eAuctions that my company does. Giving money is a very personal thing, some people can’t afford to because they have a strict budget, and others choose to give their money to causes that mean something to them. People can think whatever they like when they don’t see me in jeans on Fridays…I’ve learned not to care about those people a very long time ago…

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