What is a dress code?
A dress code is a set of guidelines that stipulates what a company considers appropriate for work attire. It creates an expectation for the image that the company wants to portray.
Related: How to Manage Employees
Advantages of having a dress code policy
There are a number of benefits for instituting a dress code policy:
- Mitigates concerns over attire: With a clear policy in place, you can communicate to your employees a guideline for what to wear to work and how they can make decisions related to casual and formal wear.
- Impresses customers: If you have a customer-facing business, a dress code policy ensures that when customers interact with your employees, they see people who represent your brand and are a visually cohesive part of your business.
- Promotes inclusiveness and equality: A clear dress code policy that clearly outlines what’s expected of everyone in relation to appearance promotes feelings of inclusiveness and equality, eliminating any competitiveness over who’s wearing fashionable attire.
Tips to determine if your company should institute a dress code policy
Here are a few tips you should consider if you’re determining whether to implement a dress code:
- Your employees encounter customers: If your employees are in a customer-facing position, you may want to consider a dress code so your employees appear professional and welcoming.
- Safety is a concern: If your employees perform labor-intensive work or work in an environment where accidents are more likely to happen, you may want a dress code that stipulates what protective clothing employees must wear.
- What’s appropriate for work isn’t clear: If employees are arriving at work with improper outfits or customers have said something to management, then it’s time to create and communicate a dress code that employees can follow. Consider having a team meeting or creating a focus group to invite employees to provide input on the new attire changes.
Dress code policy examples
Here are some dress code policies for different kinds of environments that you can modify to use in your own organization:
Formal dress code policy
“Because our company frequently sees visits from clients, customers and consultants, we expect our employees to dress appropriately in business attire. Appropriate attire for men includes suits or a sports jacket and pants. For women, business attire includes skirts with a jacket or pantsuits that are appropriate for a business environment. All team members are expected to use good judgment in evaluating their attire.”
Business casual dress code policy
“Because we frequently encounter customers and because the quality of those interactions impacts how our customers feel about our organization, we expect our team to dress appropriately in business casual attire. Examples of business attire are polo shirts and slacks or a blouse or sweater with a skirt or dress pants. We expect all employees to use good judgment when deciding whether the attire they wear to work is appropriate.”
Casual dress code policy
“At [company name], we encourage our employees to dress comfortably in casual attire. Employees should use their best judgment to dress with professionalism and not wear anything that would make other employees uncomfortable. Clothing should not include profanity or appear distracting or revealing. Our goal is to promote an inclusive environment for all employees.”
Frequently asked questions about dress code policies
Why is a dress code policy important?
In some professions, a dress code communicates to the customer that the employee is a part of your organization. In others, it makes employees more easily identifiable. Regardless of the profession or industry, dress codes create an atmosphere of professionalism.
What is an appropriate dress code for the workplace?
What is considered appropriate dress attire varies depending on your company, industry, business environment and organizational culture. Employers, in general, want employees to look professional and presentable in the workplace.
How do you announce a dress code?
Communicate with employees via company-wide email or newsletter or post the full policy in break rooms or restrooms. Regardless of the method of communication you choose, make sure you communicate any changes in a clear and direct manner so you don’t catch employees off guard with the new policy.