I recently got a new job cleaning a clothes store and my manager gave me a polo shirt that's a size ‘small’ but it comes to my knees and is way too big. I could fit three of me in the polo shirt.

I talked to my boss about it and she said it's company policy to wear one, they don't have any extra small shirts, I need to wear that one and just told me to tuck it in. I'm not comfortable wearing what feels like a man's top. It doesn't look professional at all. I bought plain black tops to wear instead of that but my boss said I can't wear them even though they're plain black and I'm only cleaning the store before opening hours.

Do I need to wear the company's polo?

  • 14
    If you want to keep your job, you'll need to wear it. As long as the top is not overtly sexual, you won't find anything that tells you otherwise. If there is an employee manual, I suppose you could check it, but I doubt that you'll find anything in there that contradicts your manager. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:29
  • 28
    What's the jurisdiction? Might be relevant regarding laws. In my jurisdiction, the employer can require you to wear a uniform. If it's specialized/branded (e.g. a McDonald's shirt), they have to provide it. In my jurisdiction, you also have a right to work in a safe environment with proper equipment, so if a uniform is causing you harm or whatever, you may have a case for refusing to wear it.
    – zmike
    Jun 25, 2021 at 6:47
  • 11
    Talk to your trade union rep.
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 25, 2021 at 9:51
  • 4
    Can you alter/modify/adjust the shirt by your own means?
    – Josh Part
    Jun 25, 2021 at 16:52
  • 7
    @derek Because it's OPs responsibilty to spend her money because the company is greedy and incompetent? I wish I could downvote comments. Jun 25, 2021 at 19:55

6 Answers 6


Despite the fact you are dealing with a person that is not reasonable at all you need to wear it.

Its just for some hours before the store is opening and you will not deal with the public, I understand that can make you a bit uncomfortable but maybe try to play along and ask for a different size ASAP. It will be better accepted by your manager.

  • 19
    Despite the fact you are dealing with a person that is not reasonable at all you need to wear it. Given that no location is given, how do you know? Are laws around the world regarding this issue that universal that you can state this?
    – Abigail
    Jun 25, 2021 at 11:58
  • 7
    @Abigail are there laws anywhere that prevent it? Jun 25, 2021 at 19:16
  • 6
    @TankorSmash many countries do indeed have laws that prevent employers from placing unreasonable burdens on employees. Having to wear humiliating clothing while it is trivial to provide the right size will probably fall under that.
    – BrtH
    Jun 25, 2021 at 19:29
  • 6
    @BrtH "while it is trivial to provide the right size" it's trivial for one person to go and buy one shirt of a specific size. It's not trivial for a company that probably buys their uniforms to another company, under a specific schedule and contract and with a minimal order to provide one shirt of a specific size that was not considered in/is no longer avaliable from the last batch ordered
    – Josh Part
    Jun 25, 2021 at 22:43
  • 2
    Even if the law allows it, it is still unreasonable. If the law requires it, the law is unreasonable.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 26, 2021 at 14:42

It's always good idea to try to find a solution to the problem when you bring it up with your boss or manager.

They didn't like the idea of you bringing your own shirt, but maybe they'd be ok if you took the shirt and had it altered to fit you better. Having a garment made smaller is much easier to do than trying to make it larger, so this should not cost a lot of money and will make you feel more comfortable while still wearing the official shirt.

  • 8
    It would almost certainly be cheaper to just get the right size. Tailoring isn't cheap in most places, certainly not when you are making giant changes, as would be the case for the op. Men's polos are cut completely differently than women's, this wouldn't be a quick alteration.
    – eps
    Jun 25, 2021 at 16:18
  • 1
    @eps Unless OP wants it super form-fitting, a men's polo 1-2 sizes smaller (ballpark) can fit a woman without many complex alterations, just a basic hemming. If bigger changes need to be done and we're talking a well done job, the tailor basically needs to disassemble the shirt, re-cut it to size and reassemble it again (been there, done that). A hasty job would be picking the side seams and sleeve seams, cutting excess and sewing it back, but the shoulder seams will look off Jun 28, 2021 at 9:24

An additional argument you can make towards your boss is that wearing an oversized uniform like that could risk your polo shirt getting caught on clothing racks and other fixtures around the store, risking toppling them and damaging the merchandise. Also, a polo that goes down to your knees restricts your motion in your legs (and I assume your arms are also not entirely free from their sleeves at rest), which could lead to you tripping and hurting yourself. And even if all the racks are bolted to the floor, you run the risk of damaging your polo.

  • 10
    Oversized or simply loose clothing can get caught in machinery and cause accidents, up to and including dismemberment and death. This may or may not be a factor. Jun 25, 2021 at 23:01

Ask your manager if they (or the company) will pay (reimbursed) for getting the shirt altered or tailored to fit. This is a good mediation between you and the company.

If not, look up the labor laws about uniforms. If the company requires uniforms, they should have responsibility of either giving you one that fits or paying for the uniform to be adjusted to fit you.

While your negotiating, have the manager give you another one or more (think about needing one to wear while the other is being cleaned).

Speaking about cleaning, since it is kind of a uniform, will the company reimburse for cleaning fees. Keep all receipts (including tailoring), because they may be deductible from your taxes as "unreimbursed employee expenses".

  • 1
    Unreimbursed employee expenses are not currently deductible in the US.
    – nanoman
    Jun 25, 2021 at 20:08
  • Also, it is possible the OP is an employee i a state/country with "at will" or similar employment laws and can be let go very easily if they are not part of protected group or for some extremely discriminatory reason.
    – mishan
    Jun 25, 2021 at 21:03
  • @mishan All employees are part of a protected class because the list of protected classes includes race, color, and sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity).
    – BSMP
    Jun 26, 2021 at 4:06
  • 3
    The US law does not prohibit firing a member of a protected class. It prohibits the class being the reason for the firing—very difficult to prove unless the employer is too stupid to make up a plausible other reason.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 26, 2021 at 14:45
  • @BSMP "All employees are part of a protected class" Not really, no. There's something of a double standard where straight white males aren't really protected under those laws - see, for instance, "affirmative action" positions only available to women and/or PoC.
    – nick012000
    Jun 27, 2021 at 20:17

No one really covers the question being asked, "Can my employer force me to wear clothing that's too big?" Obviously, you will need to see the laws for your state to know for sure. That being said, an employer can require you to wear whatever they want. Of course, there are always exceptions for things like safety, religious beliefs, etc.

  • 2
    "an employer can require you to wear whatever they want". No, that contradicts what you had just said about looking at local and other relevant laws. I'm pretty sure OSHA would have a problem with an employer requiring an employee to wear a foam cheese hat instead of a hardhat. Jun 25, 2021 at 23:04

Find out WHY they're giving you that oversized clothing. Maybe it's simply because your proper size isn't in stock and they don't have anything else that you will fit in?

If that's the case, ask them if it's ok you wear something else until new stock of your proper size becomes available, or if you can alter it to fit properly.

Mostly that's the reason for improperly fitting uniforms.

Of course if you're an unusually small person they simply may not be able to get something in your size, in which case altering a larger size to fit is probably your best option, if they can't have you wear something else that's at least similar in cut and colour.

But ask rather than assume, let them see you as a proactive employee who wants to be part of the solution to a problem rather than just stonewalling.

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