Tattoos in the Workplace: Changing the Rules of Office Fashion

All across the United States, workplace dress codes are slowly loosening up. No, the business suits, the crisp white shirts, and the closed shoes will still be around, but it looks like tattoos in the workplace are also making their presence felt. Fashion pundits had, however, seen this coming quite some time back. After all, the American workplace is getting younger by the day, and according to a Pew Research Center study, more than 30% of Gen X and close to 40% of Millennials sport one or more tattoos. So, it is more than likely that many recruiters themselves are inked and thus have no reservations about hiring another inked person, provided they have the right qualifications.

From Taboo to Fashion Trend

Tattoos have long shed their seedy associations with criminals and prisoners, anti-socials, and other rebellious individuals and have entered the realm of fashion. Tattoos have now come to be regarded as works of art and an individual’s mode of self-expression rather than a symbol of defiance. And tattoo artists today are also to be found working from high-end salons in glitzy metropolises, like Kat Von D of TLC’s LA Ink fame than just on the dock or ramshackle studios in narrow by-lanes.

So, it is not just football players, rock stars, and silver screen gods and goddesses who flaunt their body art. Rather, there are countless more that have a butterfly and stars design peeping out from their shirt sleeves or scribbles in a foreign language showing through underneath their collars. And in their workplaces too!

This image makeover has meant that tattoos in the workplace are now more common and employers in many industries now take a more lenient view of these fashion statements than before. Well, up to a point!

How to Flaunt Your Fashion Statement Without Raising a Frown

While tattoos in the workplace may be tolerated in some companies and even welcomed in some others like design firms and advertising agencies, there are still sundry norms that govern the wearing of tattoos.

Companies that have done away with their “No tattoos” policy still prohibit sporting tattoos that are deemed vulgar and offensive to the senses, sentiments, and sensibilities of certain groups of people. So, while it is alright to wear a tattoo bearing a ring of roses on your arms to celebrate your marriage anniversary (a la David Beckham) or the name of your favorite song on your shoulder blades (a la Angelina Jolie, another one of the more famous tattoo-bearing celebrities), you cannot sport an image of a Confederate flag on your wrist.

There are some other lenient companies where the top brass won’t mind your tattoo as long as it is not showing. The dress code section in your terms and conditions document will probably ask you to cover the tattoos in your arm with the shirt sleeves or wear a skirt of the appropriate length that covers the art work on your leg. This may be a general rule or to be strictly followed when interfacing with clients who may be less tolerant.

It thus pays to know these tips that will help you get away with your individual and inked style statement:

  • You can button up your shirt, roll down your shirt sleeves, or wear socks to keep your tattoo out of sight. Failing that, opaque makeup will do the trick.
  • If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, then consider doing so on some part of the body where you can conceal it, if required. After all, there are still many conservative companies who look down upon stamped individuals and do not tolerate tattoos in the workplace.
  • Ensure that you know for sure the meaning of the tribal symbol or the Kanji characters that you want to get inscribed on your body. After all, tattoos are meant for self-expression and not to hurt another individual.

You are a fortunate person if your company allows tattoos; you now have one more means to carve your fashion statement! While others can surely hope that their employers, too, will allow tattoos in the workplace in the near future.

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