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I am facing a difficult situation wherein my client visit is due over in next week. We have a formal dress code except on Fridays. On this day, my boss asked us to wear a Company T-Shirt that is provided to all employees with no cost charged. However, based on my body fitness, I feel extremely uncomfortable in a half sleeved t-shirt.

I don't know how to deal with this situation, what reason should I give for not wearing the 'Team' dress? Also, I don't want to take leave on that day, because it is important to get versed and know more about the business.

I would also like to know what needs to be done in general. For example, I talk about technologies in conferences where similar requests about dress code (half t-shirt featuring the company's product) are also there.

Update: Thank you all so much for overwhelming response and considering my situation, I feel more confident - Underneath long sleeve T-shirt or jacket is solution for now. I hope management and more people start considering the preferences of the individuals across the world.

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    Can you find something comfortable to wear under the t-shirt? For example, I've seen people in a colored t-shirt over a full-sleeve sweatshirt. – A. I. Breveleri Apr 8 '18 at 15:26
  • Would a different size/fit/form of shirt be acceptable to you? Or are you looking for a way to approach this that avoids the whole "oh we can get you a smaller size" discussion? Are the other dress-based alternatives (hats, pins or something else) that you've seen around the office or that could have a similar impact to what's on the shirt? – Lilienthal Apr 8 '18 at 19:10
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    Does this boss want you to wear this every Friday? Or is there some company engagement event that you're taking team photos at or meeting clients or something... Making Friday casual and then saying "It's so casual we're giving you a uniform to wear" is kind of contrary to casual Fridays. On the other hand, if you're doing an event that's going to go on social media or your website and it's just a once-a-quarter thing or something, well, if that's the worst thing you have to do in your career you don't like you'll have a great career! – corsiKa Apr 9 '18 at 1:41
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    Would your boss be all right with you dressing up in business casual or formal on that day? – Kevin Apr 9 '18 at 15:48
  • Aside from the potential reason of feeling like you're being singled out by being granted an exception (which is a very valid reason -- don't get me wrong!), is there any reason that you wouldn't voice your concerns in earnest to the person who put this rule in place? Communication's a very powerful, and often underused tool for these kinds of issues. – 0xdd Apr 9 '18 at 16:20
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I'm not skinny, and I still dislike a lot short-sleeves tee-shirts, and I can easily understand what you feel.

I don't like people staring at my arms, and some tattoo from shoulder to elbow. I love my tattoo, they're very nice, but private, I don't want to share them outside of the very close friends and family ring, and never outside.

What I did, as a employee, was to wear a long-sleeves tee-shirt underneath(1). Now, as I run a small business, I provided my teammates with both short and long sleeves tee-shirts. And I still hide my body, as my coworkers have to do it.

I recommend that you ask your boss first, and tell them that you'd like to do that (long-sleeves underneath). Go to them with a solution, not a problem. And they'll tell you if it's ok.

If they ask why you want to do that, just tell them that you want to look like the team, but really feel uncomfortable with short-sleeves.


(1) I wore a white long-sleeves underneath a white TS, and black underneath black; women also kept some of their clothes underneath the TS; we never had a problem.

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    Maybe it depends on the strictness of the company, but I'd have thought that so long as the longsleeve is a neutral colour that doesn't clash (white, grey, black, matching colour), they could just wear that underneath and not even need to ask. It's the company logo the boss wants to see, not everyone's elbows. Wouldn't be surprised if they're not the only one who does, for a variety of reasons (e.g. temperature). – user568458 Apr 8 '18 at 20:57
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    I wore a white underneath a white TS, and black underneath black, I didn't think I had to mention it as it seems quite obvious to me, and women also kept some of their clothes underneath the TS, we never had a problem. I recommend to ask boss anyway, better not look like the weird one, the only one dressing differently ;) – OldPadawan Apr 8 '18 at 21:01
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    Another option would be to wear a light jacket, unbuttoned, while wearing the T-shirt. I'd be highly surprised if anyone said anything at all about that – Kevin Apr 9 '18 at 14:02
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    I agree with all of this except "I recommend that you ask your boss first...". This is one of those cases where it's easier and better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If you know your boss is empathetic, asking first might be okay, but if not, you risk making something that should be just taking care of yourself without hurting anyone turn into a nasty power play between you and your boss. – R.. Apr 9 '18 at 17:01
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    @R.. : fair enough. And very true for better to ask for forgiveness than permission, I agree. But I'm sooo empathetic :) – OldPadawan Apr 9 '18 at 17:11
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Simply wear the t-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt. As long as the colours match, no one will think twice of it. There is no need to have a (potentially awkward) conversation with your manager about this.

If someone does mention it simply reply "I'm cold" or "I don't like short sleeves". Again, there is no need to offer an explanation or mention your "body fitness". Keep it simple and straightforward and don't overthink things.

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I would not have thought about it but a required short sleeve shirt is inconsiderate. Some people may not want show their arms for reasons of their own. OldPadwan does not want to show a tattoo.

If women were asked to wear halter tops clearly that would be unreasonable.

I would approach it as "for personal reasons I don't want to expose my arms, may I wear a matching long sleeve t-shirt underneath." You might get asked why you are wearing the shirt so have a pat answer like I chill easily.

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    may I wear a matching long sleeve t-shirt underneath - No need to ask - not a good idea: you call attention to yourself as potentially non-compliant, and also risk having the boss say no. The OP will be wearing the company tee shirt, as required. Boss did not stipulate only the company tee shirt and the intent of the request is clearly to show "team spirit" at the firm, etc. That purpose is by no means diminished if the tee is on top and another shirt is underneath. – Vector Apr 9 '18 at 3:40
  • why not wear a casual light weight jacket or an unzipped fleece over the t shirt - the logo will be on display and your arms are covered – Neuromancer Apr 9 '18 at 14:36
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The other answers correctly deal with your situation with regard to the event next week, but for a longer term solution, I would advocate to management to provide some variety in the official dress-down/casual clothes.

Instead of just t-shirts, ask if they can also include long sleeve tees, jumpers/sweaters, even logo embossed trousers & jeans. You should check the opinions of colleagues - I expect there will be others not entirely comfortable with t-shirts who will back your position.

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    Having seen the "trousers & jeans" provided by some companies, and what you look like at the end, I'd just skip asking for those :) – OldPadawan Apr 9 '18 at 15:26

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