I’m going to talk about the Starbucks dress code. Let’s establish some ground rules, and an understanding before I go any further: We will not reach an agreement. We will NOT get to a place of consensus. There are valid arguments from many different points of view. There is NOT one right answer. I will absolutely and quickly delete any comment that descends into disrespectful conversation, or emotional finger pointing, or name calling. If you can’t talk intelligently in the comments, don’t bother. And last but not least, you may not agree with my opinions, and that is okay too. I’m not trying to please every single person. And who knows, perhaps the fact that I get a few people angry is a good thing. It says something about the content. There. I got that out of the way.
I suspect the Starbucks dress code may be one of the more heated and controversial topics. And again, note the entire paragraph rant above: I expect people to not slam each other in the comments. Remember: Reasonable minds may differ.
I started thinking about this blog article from the perspective of what could (or would) partners want to change? I sent out a simple tweet which said: I am writing a blog article about the
#Starbucks dress code. If u could change ONLY ONE thing, what would it be? Or would u make no change?
Here’s what I heard on twitter:
- From the East Coast, one person wrote, “
@SbuxMel the tattoo rule. Ppl have to wear long sleeves or pants in S.Florida heat = so bueno @Starbucks #dresscode”
- One partner in Canada tweeted at me, “
@SbuxMel Visible tattoos! I’ve had feedback from so many partners about showing their tattoos! Starbucks promotes diversity including tats!“
- A former partner in Canada said, “
@SbuxMel allow visible tattoos!“
- And another voice for tattoos, “
@SbuxMel Small tats that are respectable should be allowed. I have one on my leg and couldn’t wear shorts all summer“
- A former partner (who I think is in California) tweeted, “
@SbuxMel Allow visible tattoos, but put a requirement that the visible part can’t be more than 3″ by 3″
- Another partner wrote, “
@SbuxMel Tattoos should NOT be outlawed provided they are not profane etc,“
- And a partner in Indiana wrote the about tucking in her shirts: “
@SbuxMel – I hate tucking in my shirts. It is unflattering & unattractive on many (me!) and I can look presentable and appropriate w/o it.“
- Another partner, (I think somewhere on the East Coast) wrote about tucking in shirts too, “
@SbuxMel Tucked in shirts. It’s a silly rule that honestly looks bad on most people and isn’t followed in my area.”
- A former partner really had a strong dislike for black socks: “I used to hate being required to wear black socks.“
- One person wants to wear t-shirts: “
@SbuxMel 1 thing: Please let me wear my drawer full of #Starbucks tees to work. #dresscode“
- One partner tweeted, “
@sbuxmel if I could chng 1 thing it would be jeans, not holy jeans but nice jeans lol #dresscode“
- And another person who wants jeans wrote, “
@SbuxMel Dear Lord, jeans. Jeans jeans jeans. I honestly don’t think it would devalue the brand in the least.“
- And then on the east coast, one person wants to be able to wear a gem stud in her nose: “
@SbuxMel I would like to be able to wear my nose ring. They are so common now that I don’t think it’s inappropriate to wear it.” (I tweeted with her for further clarification, and I believe this is intended to mean that partners should be allowed to have a very small gem stud in their nose.)
I’ve attached a couple of images describing the dress code from older Starbucks training materials. While the attached images may be a little dated, I don’t believe that the dress code has gone through any substantial change since then (at least as far as I know). One thing to know is that a small number of stores have an “elevated dress code” which is stricter than the normal dress code. It’s my understanding that Olive Way, Brewery Blocks, 15th Avenue Coffee, Madison Park, and Issaquah Meadows all have a requirement of an “elevated dress code” which means an all black attire, no open-toed shoes, and no sleeveless shirts. I have heard that the stores following “elevated dress code” have a rule that partners cannot wear the black “coffee gear” official Starbucks-branded polos, which seems a little silly to me. I have seen many many partners wearing the black polos from the coffee gear store, and they look quite nice! (Someone please correct me if I’ve got the “elevated dress code” wrong.)
So if you could change just ONE thing, what would it be?
I realize that is such a tough question. Everybody has a different idea about what is tasteful. I admit, I personally am not ready for full arms of tattoos, or multiple huge metallic piercings in the face. In fact, I’m also the kind of person that once in a while will mention to clients that when you sit before a judge, please wear conservative attire, turn off your cell phone, and please don’t chew gum at either the plaintiff or defense table.
At least in my area, it seems like one of the least enforced dress code rules, is the rule about gem stone studs in the nose. Lots of people have tiny nose studs. It seems like it would be the single easiest change to the dress code, and would make a difference to many partners.
As to tattoos, I can’t think of anything more difficult. Despite what many think, we really do not live in a world where everyone wants to see tattoos. I have occasionally thought that an easy way to make a small change to the Starbucks tattoo policy would be to have a ‘dollar bill’ test. If the exposed area of the tattoo is no larger than a dollar bill, it is fine. So basically, I like the dress code the way it is right now. If I could change anything to try and make partners have a more rewarding and comfortable experience, I would first consider allowing a nose stud. After that, I would see no harm in having a jeans day on a regular basis too. And I am not married to the idea that shirts must be tucked in either. But in any event, I said ONE thing, so I picked the nose stud, since I already see that dress code rule overlooked on a regular basis.
I guess I do think that the dress code could be relaxed a little. You’ve seen some of my thoughts on that. It’s your turn now.