Fashion Expert: Ministry of Environment’s new dress code merely demands reasonable business attire from employees

Photo: Boris Peterka / Stock.XCHNG

Long-sleeved dress shirts and slacks for men, knee-length skirts and long-sleeved blouses for women, no open-toe shoes or sandals: This is the dress code that newly appointed Minister of the Environment Pavel Drobil is asking employees of his ministry to abide by in the future. In addition, shirts proclaiming affinity or membership of environmental or political groups will also be taboo. Some current employees feel that the dress code Mr Drobil is calling for goes too far. Rachel Kanarowski, the Czech InStyle magazine’s editor-in-chief, speaks about what work attire should look like and whether the new dress code is reasonable.

Minister of the Environment Pavel Drobil
“I think that this kind of dress code is extremely normal in all international business environments; I don’t think it’s surprising at all. As far as the closed-toe shoes are concerned, I know many colleagues from New York who have had the same dress code in their company and they’ve still been able to adapt and find footwear.

“And of course, a man should generally wear slacks or a business suit in the office everyday, so that is not surprising at all.”

Do you think the term business wear is interpreted rather casually in the Czech Republic?

Rachel Kanarowski,  photo:
“I would say that business attire in the Czech Republic is interpreted quite traditionally. What I find is that people tend to keep to their normal suits, the black suit, with a matching black coat and black pants, or grey suit, with a grey coat and grey pants, people are sort of afraid to step outside of that box.

“But as in any business environment, what I find is often difficult as a manager is singling out particular people who maybe are not following the dress code or not dressing appropriately for work.

“So to institute a dress code, like it has happened in the ministry, is a nicer way of doing this without pointing fingers. Rather than telling someone “You dress inappropriately”, to just tell everyone and encourage everyone to dress in an appropriate manner.”

Some employees have taken offense to the part that bans t-shirts proclaiming affinities or membership of certain environmental movements. Do you think that’s justified at all?

“I think that in politics, your viewpoint should come across in your policies. And if you need to put them on a t-shirt, then maybe we should have a conversation about why these people are unable to get their viewpoints across in policy or in discussions about policy, and why they feel the need to proclaim something on a t-shirt rather than just speaking about it.”

Photo: Boris Peterka / Stock.XCHNG
Former minister of the environment Martín Bursík has commented on this dress code and said that it is in some ways nonsensical, because the ministry is not well ventilated and gets very hot in the summer. Do you think the argument is valid?

“I do. I think it’s quite difficult to do your job if your building is not well air-conditioned and it’s been a very hot summer, like it has been this year. In that case, they might discuss having instituted casual days on the expected hot days of the summer.

“But we’re still talking about a short-sleeve button-up shirt to go into the office, although I personally do not recommend that men normally wear a short-sleeve button-up shirt, but on a very hot day, like we’ve had so many of this year, I can see how this would be appropriate.

“But that’s just a matter of having an office policy: If the temperature rises above a certain point, then of course you can wear short sleeves to the office. But still, a t-shirt? I really don’t think that’s office-appropriate.”