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Creating a Business Dress Code

| December 08, 2017
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What employees wear and how they present themselves to customers and shareholders influence not only the company reputation, but the culture within the organization. Employees who are appropriately dressed make a good impression on the public; at the same time, they inspire confidence within the company.

Human resource managers charged with creating and upholding the dress code for their companies should clearly outline their expectations. Use the following business attire guidelines as you form or refine your office policy:

If your company is frequently visited by customers, clients, and the public, it may choose a formal dress code. While over the years fewer and fewer workers dress this way for work, it is the favored attire in conservative professions such as finance. Formal business attire for men includes dark tailored suits, ties, button-down dress shirts, sports jackets, dress pants, and dark leather shoes. For women, formal attire may include coordinated pant and skirt suits (skirts are knee or calf length), blouses with high necklines, blazers, and closed-toe shoes with low heels. Your image to clients should be the most important factor in determining what is appropriate formal business attire. Hosiery is preferred, and perfume and jewelry are not encouraged.

The conservative look extends to personal grooming too. Facial hair should be groomed and tattoos covered.

Like formal dress, business casual dress is often the chosen style when the company serves customers, but it can include suits of lighter but conservative colors, dress pants, khakis, sports jackets, button-down shirts, skirts, and dresses. Less formal footwear is also acceptable, such as loafers and athletic shoes. Other acceptable examples include a polo shirt and pressed pants, a sweater and shirt with pressed pants, and a jacket, sweater, and skirt. Items such as jeans, t-shirts, shorts, shirts without collars, flip flops, sun dresses, and sandals are not appropriate.

Last but not least, the casual dress code encourages employees to dress comfortably for work keeping in mind appropriate casual dress for a business setting. Appropriate dress includes anything from the categories above and jeans, t-shirts, shorts, shirts without collars, flip flops, sun dresses, and sandals. Avoid clothing that other employees would find offensive or that would make them uncomfortable, such as a t-shirt with a cause imprinted on it or a skirt that is too short. Even if they are dressing casually, employees are expected to demonstrate good judgment and taste.

The above business attire guidelines can help as you form your company policy. You might want to include actions that human resource personnel should take if an employee does not adhere to the dress code. When an employee does not comply with the dress code, an HR representative should have a private conversation with him or her.

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