What's The Galley/Mess Area Dress Code Where You Work?

On another thread there’s a discussion about a young officer who felt they were sexually harassed & one of their minor complaints was about being told what to wear while grabbing a snack. Her majors complaints were so much larger & grave. I didn’t want to diminish the importance of the overall discussion by nitpicking what is acceptable clothing in public areas & figured I would start a separate thread.

One guy said the only requirement where he worked was no flip flops & closed toe foot wear required. I think I’ve nearly seen it all at different companies over the years for galley/mess area attire & restrictions. No work clothes, no coveralls, no clothes that expose armpits or belly button, no exercise clothes, no flip flops, no Crocks, Crocks only if they have working heel straps, no tank tops, no sleeping clothes, no exposed underwear, no underclothes only. The first company I worked for had no policy at all as far as I can remember.

So how about it? Is it okay for guys & gals to visit the mess in skimpy sleeping clothes or half dressed before hitting the gym?

Is the expectation different for males than females when it comes to dress code where you work(ed)?

I’m a modest person, raised in a very conservative environment. I don’t even own a pair of shorts, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt with a hem line that shows my knees or a two piece swim suit. But I used to have a tank top that I liked: neckline was above my collar bones, straps were 2 inches wide, midriff fully covered, and in no way tight. I only wore it in my cabin. Except once. I went to the mess to get water in the middle of the night. No one was there except the female cook. She lit into me! I was tempting the men! Ferfacksake: I’d been on that ship with those men for more than a year. They folded my underthings if they were in the dryer and they needed the machine (we all did this for each other). If any of them had been tempted they had kept it to themselves, like the gentlemen and professionals they were. No one was endangered by my tank top. I was shocked by how pissed off this woman was about my top. I don’t even know if it was a rule or not…


I wear my gym clothes to the mess everyday. The only thing I think is inappropriate in the mess is open toed shoes. Unless you’re showing your tits/ass/balls. In which case you need a mental health evaluation.

We carry a lot of contractors on my current ship. Mostly Navy, occasionally Air Force/Army. About 72/25 civilian to military. The military women dressed more scantily around the ship than the civilians.

Wear whatever you want. Whatever’s comfortable. Cover your toes, and don’t be naked. I don’t see why that’s a problem for anyone. I’m not going to Sunday dinner with my parents at a steak house. I’m wandering down the pway to get some shitty chicken curry for the 3rd time this week.


I think it depends on what type of vessel, where the people are from & how many. I worked on a construction vessel with over 230 people. Absolutely no work close for good reason. The same with well stimulation. Over the years I seen sweaty hairy armpits & people with B.O in front of me in the line for meals. I worked on one vessel with majority Muslim & they were offended by people sagging showing their underwear. I worked research with the passengers were majority female & they had high expectations for the eating area.

Me personally, I prefer some fixed galley etiquette rules. A guy shouldn’t be in his boxers in the mess IMO. Also, I noticed it was mostly dudes who break the rules when a vessel/company had them.


I’m a no tank tops rule guy…I hate the idea of the sweaty armpit hairs ending up in food. This also applies to boxers!! Open toes shoes shouldn’t be allowed on board let alone the mess room.

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How close are you sitting next to someone that their arm pit hair is getting into your food?

How hairy are the dudes (or chicks) pits that the hair just falls out all willy-nilly?

Sounds like you need some better shipmates, Thom.


I think it’s also important to “feel the vibe” if you will of the ship.

I sailed on a container ship where the captain wore flip flops and shorts 24/7. Even in Alaska, the guy just always wore flip flops. So there was never an issue made about what you wore in the mess so long as you weren’t getting grease/bodily fluids on the table.

Research ship I worked on the Captain wore a collared shirt to dinner every night, and the anal MDR (who isn’t an officer and for some reason sat in the O-Mess), would berate anyone who didn’t have phenomenal table manners.

And then there’s tug boats where I’d roll into the mess in a wife beater, bathing suit, and flip flops because I was cooking my own meals at 0130.


One of the few advantages of working on drillships in later years was the galley dress code. You wore your off duty coveralls and closed toe shoes. Occasionally there on a crew change day folks would show up in their street clothes. Most took it as a point of pride that everyone no matter their rank adhered to a standard. Many years ago before such a code was established looking around the galley was enough to cause me to lose my hunger a little. I really didn’t care to see how some of these people conducted themselves in their native habitat. Knowing that some of the were at most one generation removed from their ancestors who practiced cannibalism on Borneo didn’t help either.


Geeze…Brings me back to 1970 when I first started in this business at the ripe age of 16. I was on a 100’ utility boat. We were on a job live diving as they called it walking divers behind a lay barge laying pipeline in less than 100 ft of water. Daylight job. From the living quarters to the shower, you had to go through the galley. The cook complained about the divers walking through the galley wrapped in a towel around their waist with no shirt. The capt held a meeting instructing everyone to wear a shirt in the galley. The next evening as I came out of the ER, I heard a screeching sound that I thought was a CAT 353 turbo failure. Turned out to be the cook having an apoplexy over a diver walking through the galley with a tee shirt on, no drawers with his talleywacker swinging and drying his hair with a towel. We some how managed to finish the job with no barristers involved!!


I like it when the Master enforces some rules in the galley. IE no dirty work clothes, must be clean or at least not a sweaty, grease covered mess, etc. I know people have to work and it gets hot and messy but you can clean up a little before you sit down at the table. We aren’t cave dwellers.

Some people have incredible reactions to a tank top, on men or women. I never really thought one way or another about them, just a piece of casual clothing to me. But I have realized over time that some have over the top negative reactions to them for whatever reason.


This has gotta be it, because the whole concept of a galley dress code is new to me. I’ve eaten the occasional meal in flip flops on every ship I’ve ever been on. If my toes end up in someone’s food I think we have bigger issues.


One Drilling Contractor had dress code already in the early 1970s. On Keydrill rigs you were issued with tennis shoes and parrot green coveralls on boarding the rig. Those were to be used in the living quarters. (For working blue coveralls were used)
The only entrance to the LQ from deck, or below deck spaces, was through the change room(s)
Keydrill was special in many ways; the rigs were painted parrot green throughout because that was supposed to be a soothing colour. (Said to kept the good o’l boys from getting homesick to the farm as well)

PS> Even the leg grease was tinted parrot green

A “Dirty Mess”/Coffee shop where on duty crew can eat without changing to clean cloths is now common, even on OSVs and other types of vessels.

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Just curious. What do the cooks you’ve sailed with wear ?

Myself, when I’m cooking I wear all white, but I have to wear kitchen safe shoes which are black. But in a commercial setting I want to appear clean to my public at all times.


The rules go both ways. If a female is expected to dress a certain way in the common areas, so should the men. If I am expected to close the door to the head while I’m taking a leak, and not be seen scantily clad(even if i am trying to be quick-like and sneak to the pantry and back to my room) i expect everyone else to do the same…male or female.



This is a picture of the mess room of the Dutch Shell tanker Ondina which speaks for itself. Black leather shoes only. Even the stewards are dressed up in style.


Container ship officers’ mess generally seems to be don’t trash the place but don’t complain if the engineers are dirty, especially if they’re in there for 5 minutes of food shoveling before returning to some clusterfuck.

Edit: was on one ship where no work clothes of any kind were allowed in officers mess, even fresh new coveralls. I mostly ate outside or in the ECR to avoid taking over the crew/dirty mess.


I really like it when ships have a locker room coming out of the engine room with a deep sink for hand washing so we dont track oil/grime into the accommodation spaces. There’s something very pleasant about the hand rails and door knobs being clean.


That is how it was in tankers for me. If you didn’t get dressed in your whites for breakfast and lunch or Red Sea rig for the evening meal you didn’t eat. In container and cargo ships we had a khaki drip dry rig that you could throw in the washing machine, unlike the whites which were starched, and you slipped the steward a buck or two to get washed.
The oil patch still had dress codes but coveralls were the only thing that could be said to be uniform.
Had a good friend who was a chief engineer and in a downturn in the industry went to sea on a large trawler/ factory vessel. It was not a good experience. The women were 6 pick handles and a plug of tobacco across the shoulders and hygiene was a foreign concept.

I’m fascinated by these stories of dressing up for meals on tankers. How was there time for all this showering and changing? How would a duty engineer answer an alarm in red sea rig? Dinner on most ships I’ve been on has been a quick bite and then off to bang out some OT and get done a little early for the night. I think most tankers only have a half hour dinner before the evening work starts anyway, right? Bc the day is 0600-2000?

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