company dress codes

Company Dress Codes Change with the Times

When a new generation joins the workforce, the workforce evolves. One highly visible change has been company dress codes. The American workforce has gone from suits, ties, and dresses, to business casual, to casual Fridays. Now it seems like depending on the business, every day casual Friday.

What caused this shift? Should your company enforce a more formal dress code? Or is relaxed standard conducive to happy employees?


Evolution of Company Dress Codes

Today it is not uncommon to see an individual headed to work in a pair of jeans and button-down shirt or blouse. Did millennials drive the trend? Some say so but, as The Atlantic points out, this trend towards the casual has been developing for a long time.

In the early 20th century people dressed up just about every time they left the house. People often wore suits or nice dresses when they went to work, out to dinner or to the movies. Around the 1950s things began to change. Men and women began dressing more casually as they went about their daily lives, leaving their nice clothes for the office and church. Some believe this shift led to today’s more casual clothing in the workplace.

For the most part employers and employees remained kept their suits and ties, dresses and pantyhose. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that employers really started to relax their company dress codes. Silicon Valley, birthplace of trends, started this one. Tech employees simply had no interest in adhering to the formal norm. Working long hours, they preferred comfort over formality. The trend trickled down to other types of businesses and parts of the country and has evolved into the dress codes you see today.


Fighting for Comfort

Most employees say they value comfort. Many have gotten used to their casual attire. Some feel like it makes them more productive and purposefully look for employers that permit a more casual wardrobe. Dress code gets some of the highest number of complaints in the workplace. So to give themselves a driving edge when hiring the best talent, employers have started listening.

Due to this demand, more comfortable yet professional options are available than ever before. Your company can shop for button-down shirts, polo shirts, jackets and more, embroidered with your company logo. If your staff meets directly with clients or customers, representing the company brand matters. They can keep it casual but still represent your company well.


Set Employee Expectations

The Los Angeles Times advises that you, as the manager or employer may need to lay down the rules that define “too casual.” This may seem intuitive but as American culture trends towards increasing emphasis on casual attire, some younger employees may need your guidance. This may mean talking to them on an individual basis. Maybe one of your employees is wearing a T-Shirt and jeans. If the jeans are acceptable but the T-shirt is not, take them aside and explain to them that the dress code requires, for example, a polo or a button up shirt/blouse.

Companies adopt different dress codes based on the type of business they do. Many times the formality of the dress code is solely dependent on the type of clientele and how often employees directly interact with clients. Often, the most casual dress codes who up in tech. This includes employees that mostly work behind the scenes and do not often interact with customers face to face.

Some professions that keep more traditional dress code include lawyers, engineers, and sometimes social workers. This is because clients and peers are more likely to take you seriously on important matters.


Implementing a Dress Code

Implementing a dress code can be tricky for many different reasons. As stated before the way your employees look directly correlates your company reputation. So if your employees are dressing too casually it’s important to step in.

When changing company dress codes, a gradual approach works best. The Balance suggests first talking with your employees. Explain why the change is necessary and get some input from them. Find out what changes they are most comfortable with and be flexible but still adhere to your decision.

Remember, as an employer you cannot discriminate against an individual’s medical needs or ethnic dress requirements. If an employee has a medical condition that requires them to wear rubber heels you need to allow for that. Likewise, if your dress code prohibits headdresses and an individual’s ethnic background requires them to wear one you must legally allow it.

In some instances, uniformity in employee attire is a great idea. Whether you run a direct marketing firm or a restaurant it’s a good idea to brand the clothes your employees wear. This could help put aside any confusion they may have about what is acceptable to wear in the workplace. When employees wear your brand outside of the workplace it gets the word out about your company and looks great on t-shirts, polos, and button-up shirts. If you take this route consider using Logos@work for all of your embroidery needs. It could boost your sales and make your employees look sharp at the same time.

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