Should Macy's Require Employees To Wear Black?

Starting this September, all Macy’s employees will be required to wear black clothes to work. The dress code, which is designed to help customers identify apparently-elusive sales associates, is already in effect in east coast stores, but will be expanded to the 113 stores composing the midwest division. While consumer behavior specialists rave about the change, union officials have filed a grievance against Macy’s for requiring workers to purchase new clothes. Do employee uniforms improve your shopping experience? Tell us after the jump.

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Macy’s workers grieve in black [Business Courier]
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


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  1. banned says:

    I have no issue with forced dress codes. In many jobs, employees are required to purchase their own uniforms. I am sure however, Macy’s could afford to give them free clothes to start and therefore should morally.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No, educated and empowered employees improve my shopping experience.

  3. nweaver says:

    Yes. If you can’t see the educated and empowered employees, why have them at all?

    For Macy’s, black attire would be a good, clean, professional “uniform” while still allowing everyone to not be identical.

  4. wring says:

    Ohay goth convention!

  5. SJActress says:

    Why was the poll deleted?

  6. urban_ninjya says:

    Yes, all employees should wear black turtle necks and blue jeans.

  7. NeoteriX says:

    I once worked a summer at the Sharper Image, where we had to wear all black. One day a customer was browsing around and asked me if black was my favorite color. Without skipping a beat, I replied, “Black is the favorite color of all Sharper Image employees.” He chuckled and mentioned something about working in media.

    It makes for a lame story, but it was probably the wittiest moment I will ever have.

  8. DadCooks says:

    Flourescent yellow jump suits would be better. If they are all dressed in “covert” black, they will be invisible in their poorly lit and cluttered stores.

  9. Thrust says:

    See, Canada thought this problem through before it came up. While you can charge an employee a deposit to ensure the return of uniforms, you cannot actually require them to PAY for uniforms in Canada. In the case of requirements such as specific color, if it is of a style, color, or design the employee would not wear outside of work, the employer must provide it free (deposit allowed) to the employee. IE, Black dress or casual pants can be required, and the employee must pay for them, but something fugly like red shirts or gray pants the employer must cover the cost of.

    So in the case of Maceys, if it’s just open-ended black casual or dress, staff pay for it.

  10. MikeHerbst says:

    I voted YES, not because _I_ need (or want) for employees to have a uniform, but because I think Macy’s is perfectly within its right as an employer to require a uniform or enforce a dress code.

    Could be a lot worse than “all black”. When my wife worked retail (several big-name clothing stores), she was always “expected” to be in the current fashion, and whenever possible in the actual lines on sale that season. She spent THOUSANDS keeping her wardrobe up to date for those jobs, even with the employee discount.

    She’s since moved on to a professional position, and while she still dresses appropriately for office work, she finds it easy (and relatively inexpensive) to meet the dress code.

    There are plenty of jobs with looser dress codes (usually defined as “Appropriate and Professional”), but an unskilled laborer (such as someone selling clothes) will probably find more jobs that _DO_ have a uniform or dress code than those that don’t.

  11. acambras says:

    The last few times I’ve been in Macy’s, I haven’t been able to find anybody who works there. Sometimes when I’m able to track down someone (and identify them as an employee by their nametag, I swear I can almost hear them say “D’oh!” in their heads because they have to help a damn customer.

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    Meh, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea, but I’ve always thought the brightly colored vest or apron was more practical.

    First of all, I wear black a lot of the time, and if I go into a Macys (note, this very rarely occurs) I don’t want to be asked where whatever the fuck is. I’m never going to come into a store wearing a day-glo orange apron.

    Second, it would just be EASIER. They have a pile of vests and aprons next to the time clock. Employee comes in wearing whatever they want that is within a more permissive dress code, puts on the identifying garment, goes to work.

  13. maevro says:

    There is a catch…..

    My girlfriend used to work at Macy’s here in NYC. She works in cosmetics and was hired by a company that sold its products in Macys, but she didn’t actually work for Macys.

    This happens a lot there. Companies rent out the space at Macys and do their own hiring/firing/promotion and payroll. So you are going to have a good amount of sales personnel that will still be able to dress as they please.

  14. DanKelley98 says:

    All black? You know they’re just asking for a visit by Improv Everywhere (ala Best Buy last year).

  15. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    All retail and service companies with a mandatory dress code should supply employees with either the actual uniform or an allowance to buy it. Period. Macy’s pays crap. Their employees are often on or near their first jobs, or have been unemployed so long they’re desperate for cash. Forcing them to purchase specific clothing can be a legitimate hardship.

    Around here (Houston) the poor have enough trouble buying school uniforms. They don’t also need to worry about being fired because they have to choose between clothes for the kids and clothes for themselves.

  16. acambras says:


    That said, everyone I’ve seen on the sales floor at Macy’s is dressed nicely (usually more nicely than I am on any given Saturday). I haven’t seen any problems with slovenly appearance or anything — just trying to find someone to help me.

  17. sleze69 says:

    It’ll help the employees look less obese so I am all for it.

  18. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @sleze69: A mandatory uniform policy also has the inintended effect of making the company refuse employment to people who don’t fit in the mandatory uniform. Since you undoubtedly love to think about fat people on welfare, this should come as a delightful surprise to you.

  19. SJActress says:

    I agree with technodestructo. Maybe not an apron (screams of Home Depot and Walmart) but an arm band or something would be okay, and you can see it from the front or back, and wear what you want to work.

  20. ExVee says:

    I agree that Macy’s should provide at least one “starter” uniform – one or two shirts and a pair of pants – but otherwise I see no problem. Technically, the majority of employers already dictate the dress of their employees simply by saying they can’t wear blue jeans, tank tops, or open toed shoes on the job. So no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but when the employer dictates a specific style of clothing that must be worn on the job, I think they need to come part of the way by getting everybody started.

    If Wal-Mart can pony up and provide its employees with both a pair of dress code compliant shirts *and* a $15 clothing allowance for the pants or skirt to go with it, there’s no reason a high end retailer can’t do at least as well.

  21. d0x says:

    So now every shopper who may or may not be a business women wearing black will be harassed as they walk through Macy’s…BRILLIANT!

    Uniforms are fine, but defining them by nothing more then a color is a bad idea.

    Incoming story…

    When I was 15 my 1st job was at The Big Party (now iparty). We wore purple shirts and dress pants. I went into a BK for lunch one day and was yelled at by a Manager there because I refused to mop the floor.

    Point of my story is, if a manager cant tell some normal person from someone who works there…how is a shopper suppose to?

  22. On a break from my job at Yankee Candle (where we had to wear bland olive aprons), I went downstairs in the mall to Express where all the employees wear Express or Express-like clothes.

    Another customer asked me if I worked there. Uniforms don’t matter to boneheads. Or it might be because I’m black.


  23. TaiTam says:

    If the sales associates are elusive why not pay them a commission instead of or in addition to their hourly wages. I bet that this would make them visible to customers very quickly.

  24. MissAnnThrope says:

    I worked for Macy’s East for three years. I was there when the Estee Lauder countergirls were told by Estee Lauder that they had to start wearing all black. They were going insane, trying to find anything black in Macy’s that fit the new dress code, as they wanted to get their discount, if they had to buy their own uniform. They were rather pissed off that they could only find black pants, no black longsleeved shirts. They all ended up elsewhere to shop for these clothes.

    Macy’s does pay shit. Starting pay isn’t anything anyone can live on, unless someone else is paying their bills. I was there for three years and when I left, I was making more than people who had been there years longer. Why? I was good at my job and I kept threatening to quit and therefore, I got raises no one else was getting. When raises came around, they would use every little excuse during evaluations to not give anyone more than ten cents an hour. I was told at evaluations that I should be wearing clothes they sold, not shopping at sales at Talbot’s. But most people can make more over time at McDonald’s and have more room to advance.

    Macy’s has been on the downslide. I quit to go back to school right before they announced they were going to put a McDonald’s in the children’s department. Management wasn’t happy when they were asked when they were going to put little smiley faces on the sale signs and install shopping carts at all entrances. That was almost a decade ago.

    I was in a Macy’s last week. I was looking for black clothes. That and the Style & Co. no-wrinkle twills, which were the best piece of merchandise they ever carried. I couldn’t find either.

    After I quit and was back in school, for the flexibility of hours, I took a part-time job at a supermarket. I was issued two white shirts, two ties and two aprons when I started. I was told black slacks or jeans were my own responsibility. The starting pay there was more than Macy’s.

  25. gruffydd says:

    Is it an actual uniform?
    Or is it a black top with black pants?
    Who doesn’t own a black top and black pants? Especially someone working at Macy’s.
    I’m sure their discount is substantial if they don’t own black clothes.

  26. some_yahoo says:

    This will help in stores where the employees are unhelpful and try to hide from the customers when their help is needed.

    I think the unions will hate it because it will increase the likelihood that employees will have to actually work.

    I think the customers will love it because they are more likely to be able to flag someone down when they need help trying to decide what to lay their cash down for.

  27. Lordstrom says:

    Macy’s has a union? Is there anywhere I can shop that isn’t controlled by a glorified mob?

    You know…besides Wal Mart.

  28. Moneypenny says:

    You know, I could care less if they made their employees wear uniforms. I worked for a store that had a dress code, but we were allowed to wear colors *other* than black on days that there weren’t corporate visits. I have never had good experiences at Macy’s – and perhaps if they specify what they employees wear, they’ll look less like they just rolled out of bed. They’re a mess. It could only be an improvement.

  29. PeggyK says:

    Back in my youth, some 20+ years ago, I worked as a Macy’s sales associate. At the time, the dress code was fairly upscale – I remember getting in trouble because my corduroy slacks were too casual a style. I’ve noticed in the past few years that the Macy’s sales associates have been wearing more and more casual-looking clothing, meaning that they blend in with us shoppers. In the “old days” you could tell the staff because we were better dressed than anyone else – and that was made affordable by a %15 discount on the clothing, plus first dibs on items on the sale and clearance racks.

    The trouble with mandating a specific color clothing is that it can be hard to find items that look good and fit well, particularly if that color isn’t in fashion (yes, I know, basic black, etc, but still the options are limited). It can also look “uniformy” – more like Target than a nice department store. Why not just revamp the dress code?

  30. a_m_m_b says:

    that would be why i left retail. pay me enough to stay current, rent me the current or deal with what I already own & can afford.

    @ExVee: exactly. but will it be likely to happen, doubt it.

  31. Buran says:

    @d0x: I would have stared at him and said “Give me the phone number for corporate RIGHT NOW. I am filing a complaint against you. This is NOT how you treat customers.” and see how fast he scrambled to comp your food.

  32. StevieD says:

    I am all for a uniform standard for retail and public businesses.

    Uniform does not mean a “uniform”, rather that each employee of a certain class each wears similar easily identifable garment.

    Nurses and staff at the local hospital wear specific uniforms. It is easy to ID a RN from a tech (if you need to know the difference).

    The McD manager has a different color shirt from the line employee, and the line employees wear uniforms to distinguish them from customers.

    HD has their little orange apron thingy.

    OD, CC, BB etc all have uniforms or distinctive dress codes. Sure makes my life easier.

    Run into most clothing & department stores and it is hard to distinguished the help from the customers. Oh sure, name tags help, but it is not enough.

    I say Two Thumbs UP to Macy’s.

  33. cozygal36 says:

    bloomingdales in nyc also did this a few years back. the employees just have to wear a black top and black pants. they also gave huge discounts to employees on black colored clothing before the dress code was put in place so they would be able to stock up.

  34. TSS says:

    Great. So now whenever I’m in Macy’s people are going to ask me for help. What a stupid idea.

  35. Snakeophelia says:

    On the plus side, this means goth girls can work somewhere other than Hot Topic without having to buy all new clothes.

    On the minus side, I still have flashbacks to the ugly clothes I had to buy to work in a movie theater in 1985. Do you think anyone really cared whether the popcorn girl was perfectly color-coordinated? No, but I had to wear khaki pants (10 years before they were ever in style) with a maroon top and a navy vest. 20 year later, those colors STILL aren’t in my wardrobe.

  36. SadFootSign says:

    Yeah they should have to buy uniforms simply because I am still bitter about all the Khaki pants and red shirts that I own thanks to my stint at Target. Talk about an ugly color combination.

  37. clickable says:

    All the sales staffers at Century 21 in New York wear jackets, color-coded depending on position in the sales heirarchy. No reason why Macy’s shouldn’t do the same.

    In New York at least, I think all-black but not all-uniform could be *very* confusing, considering how many people wear all-black all the time.

    I actually like Target’s idea of polo shirt + slacks. It looks crisp and snappy, IMO, flattering to all ages, and with slight variations (sleeve length or skirt v. slacks) covers all gender, size, style, and modesty requirements. Definitely should be supplied by employer.

  38. RebekahSue says:

    If Macy’s won’t pay for the clothes, and they are mandated by the company, can’t the employees write it off as a business expense?
    when friendly’s restaurants’ waitresses wore skirts, one of my friends worked there and she could write off her pantyhose, which she only wore when working.

  39. clickable says:


    LOL, I promise it was just coincidence that my comment came in right after yours! Maybe you’ll feel better knowing that some people actually like how you all look in those uniforms.

    I wasn’t thinking specifically of the colors. Just remembered how I always like how all the employees always look at Target, from teenagers to senior citizens. But I think the red shirts are great, because they brighten up everyone’s complexion under the store’s flourescent lights.

  40. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Hmph. I hear three variations on a basic story from retail workers and the like all the time:

    1) Customer in Wal-Mart asks for assistance from person who is wearing ripped jeans and band T-shirt, and refuses to believe person is not Wal-Mart employee;

    2) Customer in Wal-Mart asks for assistance from person who is wearing Target polo, and refuses to believe person is not Wal-Mart employee;

    3) Customer in Wal-Mart walks up to person wearing Wal-Mart blue polo, name tag, lanyard, and radio, who is restocking shelves, and asks “Do you work here?”

    It seems to me, based on the frequency and universality of these accounts, that nobody in America has any clue how to tell whether or not someone works somewhere, even if that person is wearing a giant blinking sign, and therefore we might as well not have uniforms at all.

  41. says:

    i think the all black looks nice. they do that in victoria’s secret, right? i feel like all the employees are wearing black…or maybe they’re just told to wear something nice and black happens to be a professional color

  42. Karmakin says:

    I think that the biggest problem here is that it’s a common color, in black. Not a specific tint of Red (Target) or Blue (Best Buy), or some sort of distinctive apron.

    Lots of people wear black.

    So those of us that wear a black T-shirt and black pants, while walking through the store, get to be accosted by other customers who want us to help them find something then get pissy when we tell them we don’t work here.


  43. V-effekt says:

    @cozygal36: Macy’s Owns Bloomies, after all. (Formerly Federated Department Stores)

  44. drjayphd says:

    @OlsonsTwin: When was that? They had us hang up our aprons before we went on break (at least during my one-month stint in 2003), which is probably for the best, seeing as playing Contra on one of the pirate NES consoles at the kiosks while wearing that apron? Not a good look.

  45. whitedevil01 says:

    whenever i shop at a department store, may it be Eddie Bauer, Macy’s, JC Penny’s… etc. I am *always* without fail confused with store staff.

    Does Macy’s (and other department stores) need their staff to wear an identifying set of clothes? YES

    does it need to be all black? not necessarily, but I’m sure it makes it easier to spot employees.

  46. Upsilon says:

    “…And according to recent news, Marilyn Manson is the new face of the Macy*s chain of stores. When asked to comment, Manson said, ‘[unearthly screech] AND THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT SHALL FLOW THROUGHT THE LAND [something in ancient aramaic]’…”

    That would make me chuckle to myself all day…

  47. ElPresidente408 says:

    I currently work at a Macy’s with the dress code. Men are supposed to wear an all black suit (it can have pin stripes), and you’re allowed to wear any color shirt/tie. Alternatively, you can also wear a black dress shirt with black pants and a tie.

    Womens outfits are more difficult because their black selection is typically limited and it’s harder to incorporate color into the outfit. All employees are supposed to be wearing clothing that is considered “fashion forward”.

    I think the all black is definitely the way to go. It looks sharp, and it makes the employees more visible. When our store first switched over, employees got 50% off black suits (not sure what the women got). Plus it saves people money because you only have to buy two or three different outfits since black clothing all looks the same and no one notices.

  48. ElPresidente408 says:

    BTW- Many Macy’s employees who itemize their tax returns do write off the “uniform” since it is a required dress code.

  49. Lunanina says:

    If Macy’s can magically infuse the uniforms with good customer service and a desire to actually help out customers, then I’m all for a dress code. A trip to Macy’s usually sucks up twice as much time as going into any other store because I have to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes hunting down someone who will ring up my purchase. I’m sure that if I tried just walking out of the store with the unpaid merchandise it would speed up that process, but the possible jail time makes that a much less appealing option for me. As it is, I avoid the store if I can help it.

  50. The HZA. says:

    I just started at Victoria’s Secret and I signed off on a dress code that mandated I have to wear 95 percent black. But when you read further, it says you have to wear black pants and a blazer.

    I am irritated that no one wears a name tag. Not even managers. I asked when i get my tag, and was told they don’t use them. This means I have no responsibility and probably won’t get in trouble for anything.

    Personally, I don’t care. Because I enjoy wearing black. It makes sorting laundry easy. The Macy’s in my zone (pacific NW) have been wearing all black the past two years at least.

  51. niteflytes says:

    In Indiana the bureau of mother vehicles employee’s have to wear khaki pants, blue shirts and I think they can wear a little red for accent…and their ID badges are on red lanyards. I’m used to seeing retail people in uniforms but the BMV? I never understood that.

  52. Thrust says:

    Ok, lets play the “Clarify the Details” game

    From what the article says, it’s a dresscode, not a uniform. The difference is you get to wear whatever you want within the code’s rules, as opposed to a specific garment everyone wears the same.

    Black. Ok. Who truely has a problem wearing black? Its the simplest color since everything goes with it. A black skirt or pants, black shirt or jacket/blazer/sweater. Not very difficult. Yes some of the employees may not have both a top and a bottom in Black, and may have to purchase one. Not the company’s problem. And talk of union complaints? Why the fuck are poor-wage retail monkies unionized? Gotta stand up for your rights to take a smoke break, or do you just want union dues to garnish an already piss-poor wage? Or is it a safety thing, since your family could be devastated should a jacket fall off the shelf and render you crippled.

    As mentioned, it isn’t a uniform, and the company isn’t obligated, morally or legally, to reimburse you for the financial hardship for one pair of pants and a black dress shirt.

  53. Back in my retail days (at a now-defunct kitchen supply chain store) we had to wear black pants or skirts and white button down shirts. We had to buy them ourselves and we weren’t compensated or reimbursed in any way. And I know we made a little less than the large department store employees did.

    This was a bit of a financial drain for those of us who relied solely on our income from the store, instead of our husbands or a “real” day job. I remember having to wear the same exact outfit several days in a row – carefully hand-washing it in the bathtub each night and hanging it to dry for the next day.

    Those were the days . . . If anything, it just served to motivate me to find a better job.

  54. etinterrapax says:

    I worked for Wal-Mart back in the smock-or-vest days, and never in my life have I felt uglier. The smock’s flattering on no one, and because my hometown isn’t that big and everyone comes into the one Wal-Mart at least twice a week, I was soon recognized in or out of uniform and never had a peaceful shopping experience there again. People came up to me on my lunch breaks, regular breaks, and ordinary pee breaks and asked for help. Lordy, I hate that place.

    I don’t think the Macy’s dress code is so bad by itself, though I think it would probably be more effective to have a common element in it (aside from the color) to distinguish employees from black-wearing customers. But after my experience wearing The Smock, I haven’t the first idea what. This is what we get for abandoning meaning in apparel habits, though. Egalitarian, yes, and also confusing. I’ll take it; I’m just saying.

  55. acambras says:


    Ewww — that reminds me of the bad old days, when I was a hostess at the Olive Garden. All host staff (male and female) had to wear khaki pants or skirts, white button-down long sleeved shirts, burgundy neckties, and brown shoes. Yuck. Didn’t help that I went home reeking of garlic every night.

    And on a separate note, it doesn’t matter if the Home Depot people wear bright orange aprons — it’s still hard to find them when they’re *hiding* from customers.

  56. samoq says:

    I was a manager at Macy’s for years, and almost always wore black, just because it made it very easy to put an outfit together in the morning when I was groggy and half asleep. I used to be teased, in fact, for doing this. And now? Ha! I was a trendsetter and didn’t even know it!

  57. Havok154 says:

    Shirts with “Macy’s” in brightly colored LED’s. If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.

  58. chameleonz says:

    Wear black, white whatever.
    But they should wear shirts that say
    It is a toss up here in NYC whether the Post office on 33rd & 8th or Macys on 34th & 7th employs they absolutely most inept,rude,ill mannered,stupidest people they can find.
    In fact it seems they must go out of their way to find these workers.
    It is sad because my Grandmother worked there in the 1950’s, & 60’s and would take me to work with her sometimes and it seemed like a well run place but in the 70’s she quit because of the people they began to hire e.g. as she put it “high school droputs and future criminals”

  59. smallestmills says:

    I think Macy’s employees shouldn’t be restricted to black. Macy’s sells mostly clothing, and their employees should be seen by customers as examples of how to dress trendy and in style. I have worked at clothing stores, and like a few comments above, we were expected to dress in season (for retail, which is one ahead) and to current trend.
    Currently, I work in a store that sells only home accessories and furniture, with some jewelry. We have a dress code which restricts us to certain colors, but we are encouraged to wear the accessories, such as the sarongs and shawls, as long as it’s done appropriately.
    Perhaps Macy’s should work on their customer service so customers don’t have to FIND them.

  60. roothorick says:

    Boo fucking hoo. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe for my Wal-Mart job where I’m only making 6.95 an hour with only a discount package for benefits. Get over it, most companies do this anyway.

  61. loueloui says:

    I used to work for Macy’s many years ago. I did visual effects (putting up signs and decorations and stuff). For a while there we were forced to wear these ridiculous red jackets.

    They were the cheapest, most miserable things you could imagine. Picture a Wal-Mart smock with long sleeves, in fire engine red. Mine had the added benefit of not being long enough so that I looked like Frankenstein.

    This did not last long however, and I think just about everyone in the store somehow ‘lost’ theirs at about the same time.

  62. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @roothorick: Most companies don’t. And Wal-Mart should treat you better, so you don’t go in a public forum all bitter and nasty, and indulge in putting down people who are also treated unfairly.

  63. Melov says:

    Just fyi this policy applies only to associates that work in the store. Call center agents only have to dress business casual starting September 4, per Citibank.

  64. Melov says:

    Also, this is no different then working at a fast food restaurant. You wear uniforms…who gives a flying fuck.

  65. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    Working at retail store, I can tell you, one of the most annoying questions is “Do you work here?” The obvious answer is, “No, I just like to dress like someone who works here and wear a name tag.” Even while on my lunch break people at restaurants ask me if I work there, even though the store I work at is very prominent on my clothing. People really don’t notice uniforms. If they want someone, they’ll find them.

  66. Melov says:

    And call center agents get paid 2x more than the frontline store associates…Can’t complain really

  67. floofy says:

    If a company is requiring a specific uniform, they need to provide it for you, or pay for it. Period. Not everyone making minimum wage can afford 4-5 pairs of new pants and shirts. Fast food and other companies provide their uniforms to their employees. Why should Macy’s be any different?

  68. MommaJ says:

    This is silly. A nametag or corsage is more than adequate. So now these folks have to buy multiple black outfits or do laundry daily. And I suspect most Macy’s employees aren’t in a position to itemize their income tax deductions, so they couldn’t get a tax benefit for the cost of their clothing. In any case, even if Macy’s employees wore red clown noses it wouldn’t solve the problem of finding one when you need one, since the corporate policy is apparently to have one or two people cover an entire floor.

  69. Considering half the people I see in stores and malls wear Black, I’ll have to say no. But I voted “I don’t care” since I never have a problem finding one. Nametags never fail, though…

  70. threlkelded says:

    I was just at Macy’s yesterday, and everyone WAS wearing black, strangely enough.

  71. mconfoy says:

    I wish would do the same, can’t ever find their employees for assistance.

  72. nardo218 says:

    1 size fits all (men) = 1 size fits no one (esp women). You always have to buy clothes for work, I’d rather get stuff I’ll wear again.

  73. allthatsevil says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’ve worked in a retail clothing store where we had to purchase and wear a new outfit weekly (on minimum wage) to help promote the latest fashions. While I’m absolutely against that kind of dress code, the all-black thing is different. Most people have black pants/tops/dresses in their wardrobe already, so it’s not a big deal.

    On the other hand, having employees dress a certain way can still cause confusion with customers. As everyone knows, Target employees wear red shirts and khaki pants. I was once wearing a red shirt and BLACK pants while shopping at a Target. I had a shopping cart with merchandise and my purse in it, and was comparing features on their blenders when another customer approached me and asked if I worked there. Even after telling him I didn’t and going back to my blender shopping, he proceeded to yell at me because he needed help with something.

    Yes, the guy was a moron and he simply wouldn’t believe that I didn’t work there. But my point is, there are enough people in the world who wear all black, even ocassionally, that it would still be difficult to find an employee when you need one.

    I really don’t think enforcing this kind of dresscode will make that big of a difference. People don’t have a hard time finding employees because of the way they’re dressed; they have a hard time because they are hiding, probably in a break room somewhere.

  74. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    If they do come up with this stupid idea, I can only hope that more and more people come in dressed as Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, or the TIE Fighter pilots. It would fit the policy, but would also make things more interesting, as black dressed employees of a store seems too snobbish to me, when they don’t even sell Hugo Boss, Armani, or Rock N’ Republic in those stores. Well, at least, not in my region.

    Maybe some ninjas at macy’s would make them more noticable, yet there is something that I should note…

    Black can make you LESS noticeable! Hmm… maybe if we gave them uniforms that are woodland or tigerstripe design, yet with florescent colors (Think early 90s), with patrol caps that have a blinking red star on it. Would that make them more noticeable?

    If nothing else, it would help the majority of arrogant effeminate men that took over the men’s section of Kaufmann’s (Once my favorite department store, now reduced to queer eye for the men’s section.)

  75. missdona says:


    I, along with tons of other NYC women, wear all black a lot.

    I don’t want to be mistaken for a Macy’s employee.

  76. sleze69 says:

    @speedwell: That’s an amazing leap for you to assume that all fat people are on welfare

  77. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @sleze69: Oh, you’re a funny guy. It’s called sarcasm; borrow a dictionary and look it up.

  78. bravo369 says:

    I don’t think it’s wrong for a business to require employees to wear certain clothes however I do think that if they are going to institute a rule like that then employees should be provided. I had a friend who was a waiter and was required to wear a white collared dress shirt and tie with the restaurant vest over it. Well, he wasn’t provided with the dress shirts or the ties. he ruined a good number of shirts and ties because of it.

  79. DeeJayQueue says:

    Pretty much if you wear khakis and a polo and go into any store someone will ask you if you work there. It doesn’t matter whether you do or not, or if the dress code is anything like what you’re wearing.

  80. theblackdog says:

    I voted no, if only because I haven’t had an issue finding an associate at Macy’s. I would be more inclined to agree if Macy’s does discount the black clothing or offer some sort of credit towards buying these clothes.

    Wal-Mart just went to a similar policy for their managers, they have to wear some kind of khaki colored pants and certain shades of blue dress shirts. Of course they offered no such credit for the clothes, which sucked for my ex. Hope he saved his receipt so he can take a tax deduction.

  81. I voted yes: If their customers are having trouble finding the people who work there it is appropriate for them to institute a dress code or uniform.

    I do think that they ought to pay for a couple of black shirts and pants but I also think that “all black” is too vauge. Make them wear name tags too. I doubt many customers will come in wearing a name tag.

  82. niccernicus says:

    I love it when a company has a dress code (which most retail stores do), and once the employees have built a work wardrobe which meets the requirements, the company up and changes it. How about kicking the employees some free clothes from the racks to help transition into the new rules, Macy’s! Or better yet, supply the mandatory uniform.

  83. Raanne says:

    please. almost every job has a dress code. its not like the macy’s employees could wear whatever they wanted too before – they weren’t showing up in jeans an a t-shirt. i think its harder to find a job that doesn’t have a dress code than one that does.

    Dont want to be confused with a macy’s employee because you wear all black a lot? well, there are more people who *dont* wear all black than do, so actually they are minimizing the amount of confusion. currently, anyone who looks 1/2 way decent could be confused as a Macy’s employee.

    personally – i like macys because i liked hudsons, which turned into marshall fields, which is now macys – but is essentially the same store as it was 10 years ago when it was hudsons.

  84. enm4r says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but this is just a dress code. I have a dress code where I work, and it’s business attire. Did I expect my company to reimburse me for the costs to buy suits, ties, etc? Absolutely not. I don’t see why this is any different.

    Also, having the ability to quickly identify employees is a great thing. You go to Target, and you know (with 99% accuracy) that the guy wearing the khakis and red polo works there. It’s useful, it’s practical, and it’s great for the customer.

  85. Constantine says:

    Certainly this is better than the Ralph Lauren stores that force their retail employees to buy the current season’s wardrobe twice a year and wear it to work.

    However, as a man, when I’m buying a suit, I generally expect that the salesman is also going to be wearing a suit. Seriously, who’s going to get fitted for a suit by a guy wearing a black turtleneck and black slacks (and I say this as a guy who frequently wears that Eurotrash uniform)?

    As pointed out above, Macy’s is just taking a cue from Bloomingdale’s. They think the all-black dress code will make the place look more upscale and fashionable.

  86. Candyman says:

    2% of the population is faceblind, meaning they are unable (due to a brain disorder) to recognize people by their faces. They have to identify people by other means, like clothes.

    Imagine you are faceblind, and an employee at Macys. This dress code would be a nightmare for you.

    And for a face blind customer, now unable to distinguish their sales person from all the others, it would be one more difficulty in an already difficult enough life.

    Yes, I’m faceblind, and if I was a Macys customer, I would stop shopping there over this.

    OH, and Enmar, I think you’re overlooking that this is a sudden and arbitrary CHANGE in an existing dress code. Wopuldn’t you complain if your boss suddenly required you to purchase a whole new wardrobe to meet his sudden changes? Especially if he required you to purchase it from HIM?

  87. As soon as my husband’s tech company starts buying suits will I agree that Macy’s should provide these people with uniforms. Come on, we all have dress requirements. We should either make a rule that all companies require clothes or just be done with it.

    The only exception to this rule I will make is for people that work in hospitals/firehouses/police. There stuff need to be supplied by their respective employers, as the items need to be sent to industrial laundries.

  88. @Candyman:

    So, are you saying that people at Macy’s should have something on their face to indentify them? Maybe a tattoo that says “Property Of Macy’s”?

    My point is that a person’s face isn’t what any of us use to identify a salesperson. We use outfits and nametags.

  89. Macy’s should start with requiring its employees to assist customers. Maybe then they can worry about the cosmetic issues.

  90. SEMMEagent says:


    This happened to me just the other day. I was in Home Depot and two men (separately) came up to me looking for help (finding a sales associate was nigh impossible.) Now, I am dressed business casual, not in khakis or anything remotely resembling the neon orange Home Depot dress code. One guy got so incredibly rude when I told him I didn’t work there. He demanded that I find someone who could help him. I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t even tell him off.

  91. vladthepaler says:

    Required uniforms should be supplied by the employer.

  92. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    A LOT of retail jobs require an actual uniform, as well as most fast food/restaurant jobs (I’m talking ugly polyester that’s been worn by god knows who else). Why should Macy’s be different in instituting a dress code/uniform? As a customer, yes, I think it would help me find employees, and as a former retail store worker, I think they’re getting off easy by just having the color stipulated.

  93. J. Gov says:

    No, visible badges or smocks are enough. Barring hideous colors that I don’t want to see, there will always be someone else in the store wearing the same color.

    Those who still can’t figure out who works at that store are irredeemable.

  94. The Unicorn says:

    for what it’s worth (as a Chicagoan who will never really get over the Marshall Field’s–>Macy’s changeover) Field’s used to make its employees wear buttondowns in their distinctive green stripey pattern. I’m pretty sure they all wore black pants too, but it may have been black pants or khakis.

    anyways, I do agree that all-black could lead to some unnecessary confusion in terms of who’s an employee & who’s not, but at least in Chicago the employees aren’t being subjected to an unprecedented level of wardrobe control.

  95. polarogak says:

    Why the sudden uproar about a company forcing employees to wear a uniform? If you want a job where you can wear what you want, go out and earn it (college, training, pounding the pavement).

  96. velvetjones says:

    HOW ABOUT MAKING THEIR EMPLOYEES WEAR A SMILE, or a THINKING CAP? I’d happily shop at Macy’s if I knew there were pleasant, helpful staff there. I try to shop at the flagship DT Minneapolis store on my lunch breaks and it’s such a nightmare. It is absolutely packed at lunchtime and there are no sales people anywhere except in makeup and shoes — the areas that pay commission.

  97. Thrust says:

    @vladthepaler: It is not a uniform, it’s a dress code, and it is not the employer’s job to provide clothing to staff.

  98. Melov says:

    @missdona: Sorry I forgot that you are better than most of the world since you’re from New York.

    Go die in another plane attack.

  99. Melov says:

    @The Unicorn:

    “buttondowns in their distinctive green stripey pattern”

    “but at least in Chicago the employees aren’t being subjected to an unprecedented level of wardrobe control.”

    You just contradicted what you were saying….

  100. Pasty says:

    I worked for Macy’s, Inc. back when it was Federated with Bloomingdale’s.

    On the East Coast, Bloomingdale’s launched the black dress code in their SoHo store and received such positive feedback, they expanded the practice.

    Although it felt as if I was going to a funeral every day, it was easier to identify the employees at a glance, and it was easier to prepare for work. (What am I wearing today? Oh, right. Black. Done.)

    Employees were given an extra 20% discount on top of the 20% employee discount proper on all black clothing items, including socks, shoes, stockings, even coats. It was a pretty sweet deal overall, which is why I cannot grasp why the Union is up in arms over it.

    It got even sweeter during designated sales where ANOTHER 20% discount was added. I believe those sales were designed to aid in the employee purchasing of the black dress code.

  101. mrdelayer says:

    Shit, now I can’t go to Macy’s without being accosted by customers.

    Thanks a lot, Macy’s.

  102. The Unicorn says:

    @Melov: After your oh-so-sensitive-and-warranted reply to missdona, I’m reluctant to even respond to you, but for what it’s worth: I’m not sure why you think I’m contradicting myself. To me, being required to wear a uniform shirt is much more restrictive than being required to wear clothes of one’s own choosing, even if said clothes must be a particular color.

  103. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    I dont see the problem. I also dont see why Macy should have to provide the clothing… how is it any different from having to wear a shirt and tie to work for someone who ordinarily doesnt wear a shirt and tie? You either get a job that fits your clothing/dress style, or you buy clothing to accommodate the dress standards.

    If they dont like it, Im sure WalMart is hiring… and theyll give you a shirt to wear!

  104. snowferret says:

    How bout blue vests?
    That would be funny.

  105. Sam says:

    What’s all this about Wal Mart employees wearing aprons? For some reason, they seemed to have stopped doing this at my local store, which is bitchin annoying. The only identification anyone wears is a nametag, which is only visible from the front and can be worn anywhere on the body which makes it even MORE difficult to identify employees. Apparently, they can just wear whatever clothes they want. One guy was wearing a Confederate flag hat.

  106. Moneypenny says:

    I loved the “Do you work here?” questions. Once – Wearing nametag, obnoxious headset that made me look like mid-90’s Madonna in concert and having just hung up the phone…, in an effort to be funny said, “No.” I pointed to the person standing beside me and said, “He does.”
    My humor was not appreciated. Ask me why I’m no longer in retail. :-)

  107. hyperlexis says:

    I think at Macy’s, they would have a harder time finding a CUSTOMER, let alone a salesman.

    Greetings from Chicago.

  108. synergy says:

    On one hand a store can be required to have a uniform, but I don’t know about whether you should have to buy it.

    On the other hand, I’ve been in stores like Target or the local grocery store chain where there’s a distinct uniform and people still come up to me and ask me if I work there. And, no, I’ve never been wearing anything even remotely like the store uniform.

  109. Melov says:

    @Pasty: It still is Federated (It was just a name change) and Bloomingdale’s is still with Macy’s. These 2 brands will never become seperate.

    And yes, Macy’s is doing the same thing. They are offering 2 extra associate discount days within 2 months.

  110. Melov says:

    @hyperlexis: Very funny!!!


  111. karmaghost says:

    You can only itemize your work clothes or uniform if you cannot be reasonably expected to wear the uniform in public when you’re not working. For example, if your job requires a plain black T-shirt and you have to go out and buy one with your own money, you wouldn’t be able to claim that on your taxes because it’s just a black shirt and you can wear that anywhere.

    However, if you are required to buy a black T-shirt that has the company name blasted across the front, then you can claim that on your taxes because you wouldn’t be expected to wear that in public while off the clock. It isn’t considered part of your wardrobe.

  112. Teapotfox says:

    @missdona: If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, count yourself fortunate. It’s not exactly the affront of the century that a retailer has decided on a monochrome dress code that happens to be your preferred colour scheme, too. It’s black, for heaven’s sake. NYC females are hardly the only people who wear black clothing. Frankly, now that you have heard about the store’s dress code, if you don’t want to be mistaken for a Macy’s employee (the horror!), don’t dress like one when/if you go there and I doubt the problem will arise.

  113. MFfan310 says:

    IIRC, when Macy’s implemented the all-black dress code in the Macy’s East, North, and South divisions, they gave hefty discounts on black clothes to the employees… so I’m sure that they’re also doing this in the Midwest division.

    Also, the Macy’s Northwest division has a modified version of the dress code: only one dress item out of your short or pants has to be black… they do this to comply with labor laws in Northwestern states. And Macy’s West and Macy’s Florida don’t have an all-black dress code (yet).

  114. karmaghost says:

    @Teapotfox: I can’t imagine a more perfect response. I dunno, it just seemed really well written without being too scornful.

  115. Ola says:

    I don’t think an all-black code is terrible per se, but it can be annoying for the employees who then have massive black wardrobes. Maybe Macy’s should add proper lighting and train their employees to be visible and helpful while they’re at it.

    I worked for a retail company that only allowed certain colors in the dress code…UNLESS they were from that company’s store. And buying from the store was certainly encouraged, although not as bad as some places that actually required employees to wear the store’s clothing. (That, in my book, qualifies as a “uniform” and should be paid for by the store, legally. I believe there was a huge lawsuit in California a while back about this.)

  116. Teapotfox says:

    @karmaghost: Hey, thanks… what a nice compliment out of nowhere!

  117. sroelofs says:

    Black is so completely appropriate considering EVERYONE but management is mourning the loss of Marshall Field’s. But since only fools continue to shop at Macy’s, the issue is rather moot.

  118. wellfleet says:

    Only thing I see wrong is that black is kind of impractical. Black fades quickly in the wash and is unforgiving when it comes to showing dust, pet hair, etc… It would get pretty expensive to maintain a great black pair of pants and top if you work every day and need to wash these items all the time. I have to wear black pants to work and wash them twice a week. Now they’re charcoal.

  119. Anonymous says:

    I worked at Macy’s this year during the Xmas rush. They give employees a discount and then new employees get an additional discount when purchasing black items to wear at work, so the hardship is not so bad. As far as employees assisting customers, some departments (men’s suits,men’s and ladies shoes for example) do get commission in addition to pay, so those areas are always well staffed and the employees attentive. Macy’s does NOT train the staff well in customer service and brand knowledge. You are thrown out on the floor and expected to be able to help customers no matter what department you may be in. I went in on my first day to a huge sale, where the department I was in was completely new to me and was expected to be able to help customers. yeah I’d avoid customers on occasion, because I felt stupid not being able to give what I considered good customer service. Macy’s needs to revamp it’s scheduling also. There were days that there were more associates than customers and then days where we had no associates. Very bad scheduling. Luckily I found a “regular” job right after Christmas at double the pay,so my Macy’s associate days are over !!!