4 Questions to Ask When Deciding Your Company's Dress Code


4 Questions to Ask When Deciding Your Company’s Dress Code


For many companies, the office dress code goes unspoken. But is it quietly causing issues? When you are starting a business or bringing on new employees, it is important to discuss dress code and share your expectations for how your employees should present themselves.

Having a clearly defined dress code in place will alleviate confusion. Your dress code is also a direct reflection of your company culture. Before you determine which type of office dress code suits your business, here are definitions of common dress code standards:

  • Business Formal calls for semi-formal attire. Depending on the types of clients you interact with, this attire may only be necessary for important meetings, business functions or speaking engagements. Appropriate things to wear include a suit and tie for men and a tailored dress or pantsuit for women, with the goal of being dressed-to-impress in the most business appropriate fashion.
  • Business Casual is typically the most common, go-to office dress code because it strikes a good balance. It’s not overly dressed-up, and yet is still professional. Good options are collared shirts and slacks for men, blazers and blouses for women, and save the jeans and sneakers for the weekend.
  • Casual Dressy is an elevated version of a casual look. It’s great for companies that wish to have a casual, fun atmosphere, but without the ‘anything-goes’ attitude. Women can simply add a dressier top or shoes with jeans, and men can wear button-ups and polos with jeans.
  • Casual is a comfortable way of dressing, becoming more popular in creative industries and small startups. Typically, this can include jeans without holes, comfortable shirts, sundresses and sandals.

Before deciding which standard to choose for your office dress code, here are a few questions to consider:

1. How often do clients come to your office? If the answer is never, a casual dress code is a great option. It’s important to realize that employees may not appreciate having to dress business formal if in-person meetings don’t happen.

2. What types of clients do you have? Business professionals might be thrown off if you’re employees are dressed way more casually than them. However, if your clients are smaller companies, or even business-to-consumer (B2C), a more casual approach is less intimidating and more appropriate.

3. What kind of office atmosphere do you want? If you want to encourage a light-hearted and creative atmosphere, a business casual or casual dress code is a good option. If your employees need to be serious and professional during the work day, a more formal dress code would be appropriate.

4. What kind of impression are you looking to make? This will depend heavily on your industry. Clients might expect a colorful and casual dress code from your employees if your business thrives on ingenuity, creativity and/or fun. But, if you’re a lawyer, your clients need to see your employees in decidedly professional attire.

Don’t leave your employees guessing. Set clear expectations for your employee dress code. Remember, dress code is a defining factor of your company’s culture and values. By clarifying a standard dress code, you will help keep your employees focused on their work and aligned with your company’s goals.

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