How to Create a Company Dress Code | Fora Financial Blog
How to Create a Company Dress Code
January 03, 2019

How to Create a Company Dress Code

Creating a company dress code is an important first step for management in any business, especially for companies where clients or partners visit frequently. A dress code must be carefully crafted to not only create a professional company image, but to also avoid suppressing employees’ individuality. Ultimately, you want to create an inclusive atmosphere and must avoid any hint of discrimination in your dress code. In fact, surveys have found that business casual dress codes are increasing rapidly. But what’s the best way to walk the line between professionalism and create a comfortable environment?

Why Should You Create a Dress Code?

A dress code can have several benefits for both employees and customers. Well-dressed employees create an appealing aesthetic and give customers a good first impression. If implemented correctly, it can also create a sense of camaraderie and equality amongst employees. No one feels small or unimportant when everyone is wearing the same type of clothes.

Surveys have shown some employees actually DO desire the structure of a dress code, especially when it pertains to inappropriateness. A dress code can go a long way towards avoiding potential public relations disasters. Your employees might each have different standards when it comes to appropriate workplace attire; by enforcing a dress code, you can curtail problematic situations before they happen.

5 Tips for Crafting a Dress Code

1. Understand Your Industry and Company

Appropriate dress codes vary depending on the industry AND individual company. The sales team at an investment bank will have much different rules than the software programmers at a small manufacturing firm. Should there be a policy on men’s facial hair? If your company sells vacuum cleaners, probably not. But what if you’re catering events for high-income diners? Consider your company’s place in the business world and industry standards before drafting a dress code to get an idea on what’s preferable.

2. Develop a Clear Mission Statement for Your Dress Code

Your employees aren’t robots. If you tell them they must dress a certain way, they’ll probably silently comply – but you need to explain why. “Because the boss says so” isn’t a sufficient reason for implementing a new company dress code. You must explain the benefits and let employees know their feedback is important. For example, if heavy machinery is used in your workplace, let employees know that long hair is forbidden because it’s a safety risk.

3. Be Clear and Concise

Explaining the ‘why’ of the dress code can be hard enough. To get everyone on the same page, you must do more than simply explain what’s expected, you need to show it. Have examples of acceptable and unacceptable attire ready to go and include specifics on what is and isn’t permitted. Don’t just say “long pants,” are permitted, give examples like jeans or khakis. Or, don’t say “short skirts,” aren’t allowed; explain the specific length or style that isn’t allowed. Clear examples are the key to ensuring that everyone understands what’s expected.

4. Don’t Infringe on Anyone’s Rights

Having a policy that’s too strict is a good way to find yourself in legal trouble. Your dress code can’t be discriminatory and forbid employees from wearing religious or cultural garments (and you must understand the difference). For example, if you have a policy forbidding hats and headwear, an exception must be made for a Muslim woman who wishes to wear a hijab in the office. Educate yourself as much as possible prior to creating a dress code and ensure that it’s inclusive to everyone’s personal beliefs.

5. Don’t Stifle Individuality

Suppressing employee individuality isn’t illegal like discrimination, but letting your workers be themselves is a great way to boost productivity and morale. Creating a good first impression for customers is important, but you don’t want it to come at the expense of employee happiness. Don’t make your dress code so strict that people hate coming to work! Having a few scheduled “dress down” days is a simple but effective way to improve workers’ moods. You could even make Friday a casual dress day, so that employees have something to look forward to each week.

Conclusion: Make a Dress Code That’s Right for Your Company

Implementing a dress code always has the potential for hiccups, but if you use these tips, you should be able to develop an effective policy that doesn’t offend or discriminate. Make certain all your employees are clear on the rules and remember it’s okay to let your hair down every now and then (literally and figuratively).

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Post by:
Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].