In the summer months, even companies that are formal during the rest of the year, loosen their collars and roll-up their sleeves for summer casual dress. While your company may allow for casual dress, that doesn’t mean “anything goes.” Guidelines around proper dress in the workplace should be clearly stated and communicated to employees in the employee handbook or a memo, if it’s a temporary policy. Guidelines for casual dress will differ depending on the company and it’s formality, the industry and the geographic location. Cities tend to be more formal than rural areas and certain industries, such as high tech are typically more casual than others such as financial institutions.
In general, there are a few “nevers” that should be included in any workplace casual dress policy:
- clothing that is torn or excessively frayed
- undergarments showing
- bare backs or midriffs
- open shoulders (i.e. strapless)
- hats or sunglasses
In addition to clothing, you’ll want to think about what shoes are acceptable. For many companies, shoes may be a matter of safety. For others, similar to white pants after Labor Day, there are shoe options that may make some managers uncomfortable, such as open toes shoes for women or men. What works in your culture?
Managers and Executives should set the tone for what is appropriate and not be the ones to push the limits of what is acceptable. The same goes for consultants or vendors. A good rule of thumb for a consultant is to know the dress code of the company and then dress slightly more professional. A consultant and manager should not be the least dressed.
The bottom line is to develop a policy and guidelines and then educate employees about the expectations. This will eliminate questions among employees and make it easier to manage potential abuse.
Would you add anything to the “nevers” list?