It used to be easy to distinguish between work and casual wear. Suits, ties and pencil skirts were the preferred attire on weekdays and denim and T-shirts were reserved for weekends. But the water has become muddied as more businesses relax their dress code to retain and attract talented employees.
For many firms, casual Fridays have become everyday attire, leading employers and employees alike to ask, “What is acceptable to wear in the workplace?”
To maintain a professional work environment, experts say companies need to create a dress code, which informs employees of how they are expected to dress.
Here are some points to consider in developing a dress code:
- Consider your industry. Some industries are more trendy or casual than others so look to your industry as a guide and keep in mind the perception you want to create. Organizations that are focused on corporate clients will likely have a more formal or business casual dress code.
- Safety factors. Are there potential dangers if workers dress inappropriately? For example, does your facility have equipment that can become entangled with loose clothing or jewelry? If so, these need to be addressed in a dress code.
- Recommended clothing and what to avoid. Be clear about what is appropriate and inappropriate in the workplace. Share examples of acceptable clothing, such as khaki pants and clean attire. Clothes to avoid may include plunging necklines, short hemlines and see-through clothing as well as cut-off shorts, flip flops and sweatpants.
- Don’t discriminate. Be careful not to discriminate against race, gender or religious traditions when creating a dress code.
- Noncompliance. Detail the consequences for not adhering to the dress code, including requesting the employee to change. Note that suspension or termination may result for those who continue to ignore the dress code.
- Share the code and enforce it. Once you have a dress code, make sure employees read and sign it. Send out email reminders if you notice employees are getting too relaxed in their attire.
A dress code is an important step in determining the type of atmosphere you want to create. Whether you embrace jeans and T-shirts or more formal wear, your dress code should reflect your organization’s culture and personality.