Determining Your Business’ Dress Code

There is a wide range of acceptable dress codes for businesses today; some with uniforms or strictly suit and tie, others business casual, and some with no dress code at all. Maybe you’re wondering how to determine your business’ dress code and what reasons there might be to go one way or the other.

First, you should think about who you are interacting with on a regular basis. Do you deal with the public? Do you conduct a lot of face-to-face business with other companies? If the answer is yes, you may need to go the professional or business casual route. Keep in mind if you do international business, other countries may adhere to stricter dress code regimes and will expect the same from you. Your industry plays a big role in what is appropriate for the work you do. For example, a banker will dress completely different from a landscaper. What purpose do you want your style of dress to serve? Suits say your business is strong and stable, but if delivering friendly customer service is more important, a suit may be too rigid. Remember that being able to choose your dress code is an added bonus: many professions, such as those in the service industry or public workers such as firefighters have no choice about their dress code. Whatever you decide, make it universal for all employees.

You may not realize it, but potential employees may look at how people in the company dress during the interview to determine if they’re a good fit. You don’t want to drive away potentially good candidates. Discuss your dress code standards in interviews so that it is clear right away. If you decide to make a written dress code policy, keep it general to avoid potentially statements that could be offensive or make people feel as though they can’t use their own good judgment. For example: All employees must adhere to professional, appropriate attire at all times. Use your own judgment and err on the side of caution. Specifying (or not specifying) too much or too little is a slippery slope—making one exception could lead to more violations of policy, but being too critical will also cause people to want to break the rules. Keep in mind that grooming (hygiene, hairstyles, perfume, etc.) is part of dress code, too. Make it happen!