Say “Yes” to the Dress: Unless you Need to Say “No”

showgirlsMr. S and I just got back from several days in Las Vegas for a combination vacation and conference where I played the spouse tag-a-long.   As always, it was an adventure in the adult playground that also tries to pass itself off as a family vacation destination.  I will never in my life get accustomed to seeing parents pushing strollers, with strapped-in infants, down The Strip at 11 PM at night.  Get that child to bed!

But I digress.

Once upon a time I worked at a casino – although at a much smaller property than those in Vegas with their 5,000 rooms and tens of thousands of employees.  It was a fascinating industry in which to practice HR – like really really fascinating.   Quite naturally whenever I hang out in a gaming environment I can’t help but reminisce about those days.

As at any casino the one at which I worked had a costume department where employees got fitted for uniforms, had mending done on shorts, bustiers and vests, and traded in ragged or sweat-stained garments for fresh versions.  The ladies (because yes, they were all ladies) who worked there were skilled seamstresses who called everyone “hun,” believed in reminding us to “have a blessed day,” and were able to eyeball anyone who walked in the door and pluck a perfectly sized garment from their racks.

The beauty of the on-site costume department meant that if we had an employee (one who didn’t wear a uniform/costume) arrive in inappropriate attire for the day, their manager didn’t have to send them home but merely had to walk them down to Miss Lil to get a suitable outfit. “Trixie…your butt cheeks are showing because your skirt is too short; let’s go down to Miss Lil so she can give you a pair of dress pants for the day “  (also known as the Accounting Manager’s favorite conversation).

So while we had a dress code policy (which included tips on ‘grooming’) there was, as you can imagine, a bit more flesh on display than in a normal workplace – and we were a fairly conservative property.  I got to thinking about this in Vegas as I saw various casino employees in their work uniforms which included bikinis (the cocktail waitresses/cabana servers at the hotel pool); tight pants (Chippendales, Thunder Down Under), evening gowns with waist high slits (cocktail servers at the Peppermill Lounge) and lace up corsets (just about everywhere).

The grooviest creepiest thing we did was visit the Mob Museum (relatively new y’all – go see it!).  One of the displays showed pictures of “Las Vegas” life – pics of school groups, kids going on field trips, people at the grocery store, etc.  The accompanying content read (note:  TOTALLY paraphrasing) ”people who visit tend to forget that Las Vegas, like anywhere else, is a community with people living normal lives – people going to work, kids going to school, soccer games, summer camp, etc.  It’s just that in Vegas mom and dad head off to work in sequins.”

I could totally handle wearing sequins on my work uniform.  Sequined yoga pants and flip flops.

Is there a dress code for that?


image from the Oral History Project of Las Vegas Showgirls at UNLV Library

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