For some companies, the office dress code is unspoken. But when you are first starting your business, or when you start bringing on new employees, it may be necessary to clarify how you expect your employees to dress when they come into work.
Having a clearly defined dress code alleviates confusion and ensures that your office presents cohesion. It is also a great way to display your company culture.
Before you determine which office dress code suits your business, here are some definitions for the most common dress codes:
This specific dress code calls for semi-formal attire. Depending on the types of clients you are interacting with, this may be every day attire or maybe it is only once a week meeting attire. This is typical attire for a day-time business function or important meeting.
This particular dress code typically calls for a suit and tie for men, and a tailored dress or pant suit for women. The goal is to wear something business appropriate that simultaneously feels dressed up.
This is the typical, go-to office dress code. This calls for items such as collared shirts and slacks for men, and pants, blazers, and blouses for women. It excludes jeans and sneakers of any sort.
Most businesses adhere to this rule because it is a good balance between being overly dressy, but not appearing unprofessional.
This dress code is an elevated version of a casual look. For women, this usually means adding a great pair of dressy shoes to a go-to casual outfit, or wearing a dressy blouse with a pair of nice jeans. For men, a piece like a blazer or nice top can elevate a jean look.
This may be a great option for companies looking to maintain a casual and fun office feel, but without an anything goes attitude.
More and more, businesses are leaning in this direction. Especially for more creative industries or small startups, employees dress in whatever is comfortable. While it shouldn’t be quite an “anything goes” atmosphere, casual leaves a lot of room for interpretation. So if you go this route, you may want to set some limits for how casual your office can be.
Typically, it means clean jeans with no holes, nice shorts depending on the occasion, casual shirts with no slogans, sandals, and sundresses.
A few questions to ask before you decide on your office dress code:
How often do clients come into your office?
If the answer is never, obviously a more casual dress code is probably just fine, unless you just have a preference for dressing up. Just keep in mind that employees may not appreciate having to dress business formal every day if they never come into contact in-person with a client.
What types of clients do you have?
Business professionals are going to expect you to dress as they do. But if you are working with small, casual companies like your own, or even just as a B2C, a more casual approach might be less intimidating and more appropriate.
What impression about your company do you want clients to come away from your office with?
Creative? Fun? Serious? Professional? This just depends on your industry and your company culture.
For a more creative, graphic design business clients may expect colorful, creative outfits that don’t fit within the norms of a dress code. But if you are a serious lawyer, clients probably want a professional atmosphere.
Identifying an office dress can keep your employees aligned with the goals of the business, and help everyone understand your company’s culture and values. Don’t leave your employees guessing, help them out with clear expectations.