How to Set a Dress Code

I work from home, so my dress code is whatever I darn well want it to be. You, however, may need a dress code or you’ll get people showing up to work in Daisy Duke Shorts. (Ask me how I know this. Okay,I’m exaggerating. I’ve never had someone show up to work in Daisy Duke shorts. To an interview, yes, but not to work.)

Anyway, Kevin Casey at the Intuit Small Business Blog interviewed me on Dress Codes.

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14 thoughts on “How to Set a Dress Code

  1. I really like the way the sample is clear and specific about skirt lengths, types of shoes, etc. and gives examples of both appropriate and inappropriate things. People have hugely different definitions of what "business casual" even means, so I think specific examples are the way to go.

    I also think your point that if dress codes are split by gender, the requirements need to be equivalent is hugely important.

  2. Funny how the above book, which has been barely out for a month, has suddenly been deemed to be relevant to the current subject on several blogs.

    Just sayin'.

  3. Yeah, it's spam. I sent an email to the author of the book this morning, after deleting the comment from my blog, pointing out how poorly it speaks of her work.

  4. Thanks fposte. It is spam and it's gone.

    Alison, I agree with you. I am so not interested in reading a book that is promoted via spam.

  5. Hello Evil HR Lady,

    Since we're on the dress code topic, I have a question regarding hairstyles for women in the workplace.

    I work in the Finance world (legal & compliance, to be exact). All my contact is with other employees 99% of the time via email. That is, I don't work with the public. Workplace attire is business casual & it's just a mellow place in general.

    Anyways, on to my question at hand: I've had several family memebers pass away from cancer; I'd like to show my cancer awareness support by donating my locks to Locks of Love (that is, pretty much shave all my hair off).

    Do you think it'd be OK to do this if I continously wear a scarf to cover up the shaved look until a decent amount of hair has grown back to create a "normal" hairstyle once again?

    Our Employee Handbook talks about appropriate attire, tattoos, extreme jewelry & excessive body piercings & mentions that this is not an all-inclusive list & management reserves the right to determine what constitutes as proper/improper, but makes no mention about hairstyles (taking common sense into consideration when it comes to crazy haircuts or hair colors, I'd presume).

    Help, Evil HR Lady!

    What will my bald head say?

  6. Pumpkin, I personally think it's appropriate, but the easiest way to deal with it is probably just to ask. Both because your boss will appreciate it and because if you randomly show up bald, people are likely to worry about you and think you're the one with cancer.

    If it turns out to be a no-go, you can still get your hair cut super-short and donate, right? I thought Locks of Love usually took ponytail sections, rather than requiring you to actually shave your head.

  7. It suprises me that appropriate dres code has to be addressed in the business world, but even in nursing, nurses have to be instructed on how to dress professionally. It makes one wonder, where do they think they are going? The cliche', dress for success, still applies. Every type of business needs a dress code to protect current and potential customers.

  8. I just read Clinton Kelly's new book (the What Not To Wear guy). He does corporate consulting on dress codes and a question he gets asked a lot is how does a company tell the young women to keep their tramp stamps covered. You'd think that a company wouldn't have to do this, but I suppose if you have invested all that time and money into a tramp stamp, you don't want it wasted.

  9. I don't understand how that's hard to tell someone. "No bare midriffs" seems like a pretty basic work attire rule. I mean, even in places that are happy with jeans and t-shirts, that's pretty basic, isn't it?

  10. Kelly, in Clinton's example, he cited someone whose blouse would ride up as she bent over. He suggested that pants should not ride too low and that blouses should be long enough to cover the lower back even when bending over.

    Then he pointed out that a lady bends at the knees, not at the lower back.

    But yes, you would think it would be simple to tell people that they need to be covered. However, at my old job, the very woman who had written the dress code was one of the main offenders: sandals and capris to work, which do not enhance the authority of a petite female VP.

    It was her leather vest with the fur-lined edges that she wore with a turtleneck and purple embossed-velvet pants that was my favorite. I called it her Philadelphia Pimp outfit.

  11. Okay, I can see having a gap when you bend over, particularly if you have a long torso. I like his answer of bending at the knees, though it's not just for ladies. (Guys, I should never be able to see your underwear in public…please.

    I'm amused picturing the Philadelphia Pimp outfit. Maybe a case of "Do as I say, not as I do"?

  12. Hi im working as a hr in small company we have 150+ employees.. i will always wear leg ins with short top.. but some employees tell its not formals and talk something at my back.. kindly suggest the dress code… will cotton chudi will be formal? plz guide

  13. You would think that you don’t need to specify that tube tops are not dress code appropriate in business casual attire, but you do. This offender wore a tube top under her shirt but proceeded to take off the outer shirt while she sat at her desk. She doesn’t meet with customers so she thought it was OK. She has a male supervisor who used to be her co-worker before he became her boss. He is somewhat intimidated by her which makes it all the more frustrating to keep “reminding” her about the dress code.

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