Those are no slouches across the street. The offices of the Missoulian are clean, calm and sweet-smelling. Walking from desk to desk one finds a staff that’s handsome and impeccably dressed. Reporter Michael Moore is even wearing a nice button-down shirt and tie.

Wait a minute, well-dressed reporters? Didn’t that go out of style alongside fedoras with press cards in the hatbands? Apparently not.

While the Indy staff isn’t losing any beauty contests, we don’t have what they have: a spiffy new dress code to keep us in Polos and pleated Dockers. But not wanting to be outdone by the Joneses (and we don’t mean Sherry), we called for the scoop.

A representative of parent company Lee Enterprises, from headquarters in Davenport, Iowa, said he couldn’t tell us about the dress code.

“You need to call the publisher about that,” he said.

So that’s what we did.

“Actually, we’re not going to talk about that, but thanks for calling,” Missoulian publisher John VanStrydonck told us politely, and then he hung up.

Fortunately for the fashion-challenged, we managed to aquire a copy of the paper’s new “Business Attire Policy.”

Here are some of the most helpful hints:

“Employees of the Missoula SBU [Strategic Business Unit, which includes the Missoulian and the Ravalli Republic] are expected to project a professional image by exercising good taste and discretion in selecting their business attire. To create this image to our community [sic] and customers the Missoula SBU has implemented a dress code policy…Please be considerate of co-workers and customers by recognizing that good personal hygiene is a must…When an employee violates the dress code policy, management will send the employee home to change into acceptable attire. During this absence, PTO (Paid Time Off) is required to be used [sic].”

Ok, ok, just hold on a minute. You mean that it’s not enough to put on some clean, neat, lint-free clothes? Now employees are expected to shower, shave and use mouthwash? And if they don’t, they have to use vacation time to clean up their acts? This is madness! Next they’ll be wanting you to stop using the employee bathroom to scrub your armpits.

Just in case the directive is too vague for some, the policy outlines a “guideline of what attire is appropriate and inappropriate.” In the appropriate column: suits and sport coats; blouses, shirts, or knit tops; blazers, vest or sweaters; and any type of business shoe or (for the ladies) dress sandal. That seems to make sense. It’s the inappropriate column that really seems odd. That list includes spandex, midriff blouses, leotards and the clincher: “clothing worn without under garments.”

Maybe we at the Indy are just too liberated, but as far as flying free sans bras and briefs, we work under the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Actually, we go by the ancient Greek motto “semper ubi sub ubi” (“always wear underwear”).

But the strangeness doesn’t end there. According to the policy, “certain days of the year may be designated as a casual day [sic].” As of yet, the only indicated casual days are “MONTANA GRIZZLY FRIDAY’S” [sic], i.e., the Fridays preceding Griz games.

We can’t help but think of disgraced Missoulian intern Nathaniel Campfield, who got caught with Pink Panther thong underwear from a stranger’s bedroom back in March. Maybe he wasn’t crazy after all. Maybe he was just trying to bring himself up to code.

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