Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Your Next Starbucks Barista Could Have Pink Hair and a Fedora

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Your Next Starbucks Barista Could Have Pink Hair and a Fedora

Article excerpt

The next barista to hand you your Starbucks frappucino might be sporting purple hair, a plaid shirt, or a fedora.

These accoutrements are part of the coffee powerhouse's expanded dress code it announced Monday. The company "invites baristas to shine as individuals while continuing to present a clean, neat, and professional appearance," it said in a press release.

Starbucks's new dress standards show the company's emphasis not just on casualness, but also on individualism. And it's a trend not exclusive to the coffee chain. Employers across different industries are offering more lax dress codes, enabling their employees to express themselves, rather than requiring them to subscribe to the identities their jobs may impose on them.

"There's a strain of thought that says an employee represents a company, and thus dress is not about personal expression, but company expression," Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute, told The New York Times. "But there's a counterargument that believes because we identify so much with our careers, we should be able to be ourselves at work."

Starbuck's 15-page booklet that describes its new dress guidelines emphasizes the latter. Baristas will continue to wear green or black aprons, with the siren logo stitched onto the chest. Underneath, however, they can wear different dark or patterned shirts, and a variety of different pant colors, ties, and fedoras.

There are restrictions. No loud shirts or pants, no baseball caps, and no bucket hats. Bright hair colors including purple or pink are kosher, as long as the color is permanent or semi- permanent.

"We like it," said Mario Leon, store manager of the restaurant at 47th and Broadway in New York City, which tested the new dress code. "We're happy to see that you can wear expressive clothing to show who you are."

This isn't the coffee chain's first update to its dress guidelines. In 2014, it required employees cover their tattoos. Shortly afterward, it lifted this requirement.

Changes at Starbucks are part of a much broader pattern. The trend toward casual dress that started as Aloha Fridays in Hawaii in the 1960s and Casual Fridays everywhere else has become standard office behavior. …

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