Many 20-something workers cannot understand why dress codes are so important, especially at businesses where little customer contact is made. That makes for a reasonable argument, but it may not tell the entire reason why your boss wants men to arrive at work clean shaven and sporting a suit and a tie and women wearing a dress or a business suit.

Please read on and we’ll take a look at the reasons why your employer may want you to dress up, including the benefits this policy has for employees.

Perceptible Constancy

Maybe you do not have much contact with customers. But, if you do, then your employer wants to present a unified look at all times. Your customers may expect that you will dress the part, even if you are not the type of person to wear the part.

Such constancy is important wherever a visual presence is part of the job. Some employers may contend that your mere professional look helps you to exude professionalism and confidence when speaking with customers over the phone or contacting them by email. A Rice University professional dress guide notes that students going on an interview may feel more confident and better about themselves. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that those feelings would carry over to the daily workplace.

Employee Expectations

Employees that dress up actually remove a dress code barrier that exists when employees have no restrictions. The tendency of work environments where casual dress is allowed, is for employees to push the limits by wearing clothing that might make other employees feel uncomfortable such as halters, mini-skirts and cut-off jeans.

There always seems to be someone that likes to push the limit when it comes to the way they dress. With a dress code in place, what could possibly hang out will simply be covered up, enabling employees to concentrate on their work and to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.

Keeping it Simple

While the reasons that we’ve mentioned for having a dress code are defensible, problems can arise if they are arbitrary notes attorney Jennifer Halford, a professor at California State University Chico. For example, if your woman employees are required to wear make up, but men are not allowed to have facial hair, then you may have crossed a line. You need to advance consistency across gender lines.

Sometimes dress problems become a distinctly cultural issue. For instance, some Muslim women may insist on wearing head scarves and some African-American men may need to sport beards as a certain shaving condition produces painful bumps. If your company is small enough, you may be able to get away with an unbalanced dress code policy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get sued. Your company’s attorney will want to review your dress code to ensure that it is not discriminatory.

Dress Matters

Employers should always spell out the company’s dress policy and list this information in the employee manual. One way to avoid problems is to have the dress code brought up in an interview and the employee signing a statement showing that he or she has read and accepts the company’s policy. That doesn’t mean that the company will avoid a possible lawsuit down the line, but it does make clear to the employees what sort of look is required on the job.

Finally, employers should keep in mind that certain OHSA rules can have an important bearing on what employees wear on the job. For instance, warehouse workers should wear steel-tipped shoes and hard hats on the job, with perhaps a company-supplied uniform that is fitted for the employee and matches the look the company is attempting to project.

Sources

Rice University: Professional Dress Guide — https://ccd.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/CCD/Students/ProfessionalDress.pdf

Business and Legal Resources: Employee Dress Codes: Opt for Simplicity — http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Performance-Termination/Office-Dress-Codes/Employee-Dress-Codes-Opt-for-Simplicity/

James Scaggs is the Director of Marketing for ecommerce retail sites Ties.com and Scarves.com, based in Orange County California. Check out Ties.com for a huge selection neckties, bow ties, skinny ties, tie racks, tie bars, and more.

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