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New Dress Code, Still Freaky Fast Food

Free smells.

Freaky fast food.

Awesome in-store soundtracks.

Hilarious bathrooms.

Pretty great customer service.

Absolutely delicious oil & vinegar sauce.

A Jimmy John’s men’s restroom. Like, really. This is what is on the walls.

The list of why Jimmy John’s is abso-frikkin’-lutely amazing can go on for ages. And I’m not just saying it because I happen to work at one of the franchises with some of the best numbers in the state.

I’m saying it because it’s true.

In light of the kind-of-but-not-so recent animal hunting incidents (where JJ’s head honcho CEO is posing with dead animals), Jimmy John’s has been under the heat. From credit card scanners to lack of side-cups for oil & vinegar sauce, there are whole websites dedicated to why people hate Jimmy John’s. And no, I’m not kidding. Google it.

And, just so everyone knows, the views of Jimmy do not reflect the views of his employees.

But, maybe now there’s one reason people might start to like JJ’s more.

They’ve changed their employee dress code.

Sure, it probably seems like a not-so-big-deal to you. But, if you were an employee of JJ’s before this iconic moment, you’d understand.

Up until recently, there were detailed restrictions on what type of pants, shoes, belts, and jewelry could be worn. And when I say detailed, I mean detailed. No skinny jeans, jeans must cover tip of shoe tongue but no longer than shoelaces, no cuffed jeans, no colored jeans, shorts were to be no shorter than mid-thigh, belts could only be brown or black, socks must not go above the ankles, shoes couldn’t be hightops, the soles of shoes must be black or white only, nails had to be real and short to a certain centimeter, hair must not be anything other than a natural-looking color, a company-approved t-shirt/jacket/hat must be worn, t-shirts must be tucked in at all times, clean white aprons must be worn at all times, no tattoos or body/facial piercings were allowed at all.

And that’s just what I remember off the top of my head.

The Huffington Post wrote an article at the end of May 2015 about it all with copies of the explicit dress code, including graphics, we were given as part of our new employee handbook, specifically criticizing the strict penalties and regulations concerning tattoos and piercings. The article emerged amongst the controversy of Starbucks relaxing their own piercing/tattoo policies, giving the push for JJ’s to make changes even more noticeable.


As an employee, it was frustrating. My boss would send us home from work if one of the corporate employees (who audit us about every month on different aspects of our store) was visiting that day and we weren’t in dress code. We never knew exactly what day he (or she) was showing up, and our audit scores were constantly fluctuating based on how prepared we were for it. It was hard to find such specific items, especially when you’re only making minimum wage and can barely afford to put gas in your car (and while I was not one of those people, there were a few of my coworkers who did).

Now, make no mistake: I love my JJ’s. My boss hired me at 15, and I wasn’t even old enough to use a bread knife. He works with my schedule – and the schedule of my coworkers – and encourages us to act more like a family than a business, which is probably why our store has been open for two and a half years and is still doing great. I’m proud to say that my first job was with my JJ’s, because the people there helped to mold me into the ambitious, hard-working person that I am today. I learned a lot from my coworkers and my experiences at my JJ’s, and I’m so glad to be one of the employees that can share stories only a small handful of orignials will understand.


My actual JJ’s in my hometown of Portsmouth, Va.

In fact, I can’t wait until Thanksgiving Break when I can work a couple of shifts and get back into my comfort zone.

Especially now that I can’t get fussed at for wearing skinny jeans, or having a tattoo on my forearm (which I don’t, but still).

Just today, my boss posted a picture on our store’s GroupMe page, saying that he’s so glad to work for a company that listens to the grievances of its employees. And, while I can’t post the picture due to copyright laws, I can tell you that I was so excited when I read through it that I dropped everything I was holding because it was Just. That. Great.

Which, actually, is true. Some would probably argue that these changes are way overdue, but at the same time, I get why it might have taken so long. Even though Jimmy John’s is a franchise-based business (where one person or multiple people own a business that distributes goods of a specific company but still has to follow certain rules and regulations put forth by said company→ this is my paraphrased definition), it is overseen by lots of people. Rewriting whole policies takes more time than you’d think. You have to make sure every detail is approved and every exception is stated – even more so than JJ’s old dress code was. And now, because dress code violations were a big part of many stores losing points on their audits (mine included), the entire grading policy was most likely rewritten. And I can guarantee these new “relaxed” policies will be enforced to the till way more than they had been before.

But, every cloud has its silver lining, right?

Now, JJ’s employees have a lot more freedom to wear what they want. In a business that prides itself in being a relaxed environment that serves you your food faster than it takes you to get your change back from the cashier, not stressing over the minute details of what you’re wearing rather than the quality of your food is definitely something to be be happy about. And, while hair colors still have to appear natural-looking, artificial nails are allowed, and so are skinny jeans, tattoos, certain body piercings, and certain gauge sizes. It’s definitely a far cry from what it used to be.

Stay classy, Captains!

You can categorize Royall as either Leslie Knope when she has her color-coded binders: or Hyde whenever Jackie comes into a room before they start dating: There is no in-between.  Royall recently graduated with her B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology from CNU and now studies Government & International Relations at Regent University. She also serves as the Victim Advocate and Community Outreach Coordinator for Isle of Wight Co., VA in Victim Witness Services. Within Her Campus, she served as a Chapter Writer for CNU for one year, a Campus Expansion Assistant for a semester, Campus Correspondent for two years, and is in the middle of her second semester as a Chapter Advisor.  You can find her in the corner of a subway-tiled coffee shop somewhere, investigating identity experiences of members of Black Greek Letter Organizations at Primarily White Institutions as well as public perceptions of migrants and refugees. Or fantasizing about ziplining arcoss the French Alps. 
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