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The Importance of Dress Codes

A few years ago, I was asked to be a judge at a fashion show involving business majors at a local college. The show consisted of the students modeling three versions of business attire: inappropriate, business casual, and dressy. The students and I agreed on what constituted inappropriate attire; however, we had different definitions of what casual and dressy business attire meant.

One of the things that cause misunderstandings between people is that we sometimes have different definitions of the same words. For example, a recent survey implies that what HR managers and front-line supervisors consider to be professional attire differs from that of new hires, especially young ones.

State and federal laws say that it’s reasonable for employers to request that employees dress professionally (for example, no mini-skirts or low-cut blouses), present a neat appearance (no ripped or wrinkled clothing), and have good hygiene (washed hair and no body odor).

The way to attain mutual understanding is to have clear expectations, usually in the form of policies. Employers can help employees be successful by implementing a dress and grooming policy. Employees can help themselves be successful by finding out if there is a dress policy and adhering to it.

Disclaimer: The information and resources provided herein are not a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not constitute legal advice or attempt to address the numerous factual issues that inevitably arise in any employment-related dispute. Although this information attempts to cover some major recent developments, it is not all-inclusive, and any recommendations are based upon HR best practices and procedures. We recommend you consult an attorney for legal guidance.

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