If you’ve decided it’s time to implement a dress code at your company, it’s important to do your research first. Your new dress code policy should be within the law, generally accepted by your employees, and non-discriminatory. Implement a reasonable dress code if you want to see real results.
If you don’t feel a dress code is actually necessary, don’t force one on your employees. It can hurt morale if you impose a dress code this way.
Creating a Dress Code Policy
Your authority to impose a dress code at your place of business is limited by laws and the rights of others. You cannot institute a dress code that impairs anyone’s freedoms, rights, or beliefs. Ensure your dress code doesn’t discriminate against any group or segment of the population (religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, age, etc.).
You should address the following areas in your official dress code policy.
- Predict likely areas of conflict and specific problem areas in the dress code policy. Support these sections strongly so employees understand the dress code isn’t optional.
- Address the importance of making a good impression and promoting a positive, regulated company image.
- Know what is current so you don’t box out any major trends with your policy–it will only cause employees to revolt against the dress code.
- Make a list of exceptions and explain them individually. Make clear distinctions of when exceptions apply and when they don’t.
- Explain all terms. The word “appropriate” may mean something very different to someone else than it does to you. Instead of saying all skirts should be an appropriate length, state that all skirts should reach the wearer’s middle finger tip when their arms are hanging by their sides.
Dress code policies should also include additional, more specific guidance on what is permitted to wear to work. Consider creating an “FAQ” section at the bottom of your dress code policy that provides information on specific clothing styles and prohibitions. This makes it easier on your employees and results in fewer dress-related issues.
What should be called out?
- The potentially offensive. Some workplaces ban T-shirts with rude slogans, political-themed clothing or hats, or any image or text considered offensive. Clothing that is revealing or sexual in nature can also be offensive. Choose what items should be allowed and avoided at your business.
- Torn jeans. While ripped jeans have gone in and out of style, they’re never professional. Forbid torn jeans at your company to make sure your staff looks professional.
- Baggy clothing. Over-sized shirts are popular among men and women, but at a certain point, can become distracting. Baggy pants are the antithesis of professional work wear, so it is wise to ban baggy clothing in general from your office dress code.
- Footwear. In some workplaces, loose footwear can pose a serious safety hazard. Clearly state what types of footwear are permitted and not permitted in your dress code policy.