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Starbucks is relaxing its dress policy at employees' request. It's letting its baristas show a little more flair, like purple hair. But NPR's Allison Aubrey reports there's still a lot that is not allowed.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: When it comes to a dress code, Starbucks has run a pretty tight ship.
MARIO LEON: Starbucks has a dress code to keep partners looking neat and business casual.
AUBREY: That's Mario Leon. He manages a Starbucks at the corner of 47th and Broadway in Manhattan. He explains the company gives employees a 15-page dress code that stipulates everything from shirt color to shoe styles. But after pushback from employees, a few rules are being relaxed. Take hair dye - until now, only natural colors were allowed. This meant no purple or pink do's. But now the prohibition has been lifted. And Leon says the changes are good for baristas and company management.
LEON: They're looking to boost morale and make us feel like not cookie-cutter, but more like an individual.
AUBREY: Baristas are now encouraged to wear hats that fit their style. Fedoras, panamas and newsboys - all OK, but this does not mean that anything goes. There are still plenty of rules - no baggy pants or leggings, no wrinkled shirts or tongue studs, and no neon-colored socks or ties. Backwards-facing baseball caps are still a violation of dress code, as are sweatshirt hoodies. I asked Leon why.
LEON: It's not a food safety thing, and we do think it sends the wrong vibe. We want to look neat. You know, we don't want to dilute it that much.
AUBREY: The coffee drinkers I spoke to outside of a Starbucks in D.C. were surprised to learn the baristas had such a dress code. But customer Ralph Freeman (ph) says it makes sense.
RALPH FREEMAN: I can understand that. I mean, I think that's fine. You're in food services.
AUBREY: He says at work, people need to dress the part. But not everyone agrees.
KUNLEE BODMOS: I feel more relaxed when I'm casual, so I don't see a value to it.
AUBREY: Coffee drinker Kunlee Bodmos (ph) says purple hair, hoodies or neon socks? He doesn't care. Just serve his coffee hot and get his name right on the cup. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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