How to Choose a Dress Code for Your Office

When it comes to explaining what “appropriate work attire” really is, employers often struggle to provide their workers with a concrete definition. The concept seems easy enough to grasp until you actually have to put it into practice.

Many employers want to follow current trends to attract new and diverse talent but the majority of them struggle with developing and enforcing a company dress code suited for the times.

The following are a few things to consider and some tips to help you when choosing a dress code for your office.


1. The Public Eye

First determine how you want to be perceived by customers and then decide the perception you want customers to have of your employees. Even when operating in an office environment, there are always employees that work face-to-face with clients and others who work in the back and rarely interact with clients in person.

To create a professional environment, which appears to be all-business, requiring more professional attire is recommended. For a more relaxed environment, it makes more sense to allow jeans or casual clothes crafted to maximize comfort.

2. Happy Employees Are Productive Employees

There are many studies showing that if employees are comfortable, their work output increases. If there are no safety concerns and if a relaxed dress code poses no risk of being interpretively offensive, relax your policies for the sake of your employees’ happiness.

Also, keep in mind that your employee base may be financially more able to maintain a relaxed wardrobe. Workers should never be forced to wear expensive clothing if their jobs pose a high risk of getting dirty. Less expensive clothing will go a long way in keeping your employees happy, comfortable, and productive.

3. Offensive Clothing

Your employee dress code policy should include something about offensive or sexually suggestive clothing. Studies show that companies that prevent certain types of revealing or offensive clothing have less cases of sexual harassment.

Inevitably, no matter how professional your workers, someone is bound to wear something that distracts customers and/or co-workers. Make it known that offensive clothing that is potentially insulting to someone else is unacceptable. This simple policy can save you from headaches in the future.

4. Modern Times

Recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen a gradual increase in tattoos and piercings among your employees. More and more, employers are accepting the notion that tattoos and piercings are not as offensive as once perceived.

Take a look at your clientele to gauge whether this applies to your business. If your demographic is a liberal, accepting population that sports the piercings and tattoos themselves, it’s probably ok for you to relax the dress code to allow non-offensive tattoos and moderate piercings.

5. Pick Your Battles

The things employees argue about in the workplace should be few and far between and fashion should never be one of them. Consider creating a fairly relaxed dress code for your office unless the success of your business is dependent upon the appearance of each and every employee.

Redirect your focus on other more important areas like productivity, training, development and other ways to market and grow your business. Ask yourself how important dress code is to your business, in a market where employees can choose from employers for whom they wish to work.

A relaxed dress code costs you nothing and if done right, can even be profitable. In many cases, employees even turn down job offers due to a more comfortable and relaxed work environment at their current employer.

Some small business owners are under the impression that dress code policies don’t apply to them. It is impossible to lead by example if you aren’t following the same rules as employees.

Once you begin to ignore aspects of the dress code policy, they will too. Use these tips to apply the appropriate dress code for your office to maintain high employee morale and increase productivity.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Yo Noguchi is an experienced freelancer, guest blogger, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, one of the world’s global provider of email marketing services.

Image Credit: All Things Chick