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Penny Aviotti
Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant
Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant


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What clothing is appropriate for the trading floor?

Dear Mr. Corporate Manners,
I work at a conservative Wall Street firm. Most men at our company wear plain white shirts and dark suits to work. A co-worker of mine on the trading floor wore a nice blue-and-white checkered dress shirt, which was a gift from his fiancé. I told him it was a great shirt, but when the rest of the crowd arrived, many people starting poking fun at it with one person even saying, “Who shot the tablecloth?”. I could tell the repeated taunts bugged him. Is there anyway to promote a more accepting work atmosphere?
Thank you for your advice,
Scared in a White Shirt with Tablecloth Blues

Dear Scared,
The trading floor is demanding, but you shouldn’t have to give the shirt off your back to work there. Traditional business attire is fine, but we’ve moved beyond the Mad Men era of white-shirt conformity. So roll up your checkered or pinstriped or pale pink sleeves and get to work. If your friend can handle the trading floor environment, he’s tough enough to take a little ribbing about his shirt.

 Ms. (not Mr.!) Corporate Manners

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Are stilettos appropriate for the office?

Ms. Manners put her foot AND her stilettos in her mouth when she wrote in this blog that high heels could dash high hopes when climbing the corporate ladder. Here are some comments from some unhappy readers with high heels and even higher career aspirations.

Dear Ms. Corporate Manners,
We have a manager in our region that is fond of fancy footwear. The problem is that her footwear would be more appropriate for an, um, street corner business than a professional business. On Monday we were treated to the bright fuchsia satin heels with the black satin rosettes, and on Tuesday it was 4 ½ inch high candy apple red patent leather. Actually, I would not call these shoes high heels, they are straight up stilettos. In the event of an emergency I’m pretty sure they could be used as a deadly weapon. Sometimes her shoes are in stark contrast to her other attire, sometimes she pairs them with black satin mini-skirts. Surely this can’t be considered appropriate attire for a professional woman, right? And because she travels around from office to office, I am not sure who would address this dress code issue. What to do?
Pumped in Pittsburg
Dear Pumped,
 The shoes you choose to wear to work should be coordinated to your clothing, and they also should be comfortable. Extremely high heels are never recommended. We all need to be able to focus on our customers and not on how uncomfortable our feet are. Maybe your toe-tapping manager thinks her high-heeled shoes are perfectly appropriate, but sooner or later she’ll find out that she’ll never be taken seriously in those shoes. If you are really concerned, maybe a discreet word to her would bring results.
 Ms. Corporate Manners
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